Saturday, 31 March 2012

Limpid Pools

There was a time long ago and I mean long ago, when the process of preparing to get ready for bed was a seductive affair, and if not seductive, then it was, at the very least, brief – brush of teeth, clothes off, under the duvet. Job done. Nowadays, once I’ve gone through the rigmarole of my nightly routine I find that, once I’ve done my ablutions, I am utterly exhausted by the time my head hits the pillow.
For instance my teeth, which once only needed a quick brush with a dab of Colgate to make them sparkle like pearls, were done in seconds so eager was I and, for decency’s sake I’ll say it was Hubby, to get into bed. It was an intimate and sexy little peppermint hors d’oeuvres that we liked to do together, in our smalls, like you see in the adverts. We were young; our sexuality shone as brightly our teeth.
Times have changed. Nowadays I brush my teeth with a locked bathroom door. What happens in the bathroom stays in the bathroom. I no longer look like an advertisement for a ring of confidence. My gums have receded a little so that bits of food get stuck between my teeth in a most unsightly fashion. Once brushed, I open the bathroom cabinet, get out those tiny little interdental brush things that have to be poked between one’s teeth and, if that weren’t enough to scatter the plaque, I twist a length of floss around my index fingers, stand on my tip-toes and, opening my mouth as wide as a Muppet puppet, attack what is left of the plaque. As a final straw, I knock back a lid-ful of Listerine, gargle and swizzle it around until I want to cry, then spit it out and rinse and rinse with water until the inside of my cheeks and tongue no longer burn.
The next step is make-up removal. Years ago I never bothered. Men liked the morning- after- smudged- under- the eyes look, it made one look wanton I suppose. Not any more. The other morning as I sat drinking a coffee and reading the papers, a rare ray of sun shone on me. Once, to bask in sunshine made one look gorgeous, it complimented one’s skin tone, now, alas, it is spiteful. Hubby stared at me.
“God you look rough Alice”. Rough? That’s all I needed to hear having spent a further fifteen minutes the previous night not only brushing, flossing, gargling and stripping make-up from my face, but cleansing, toning and moisturising my skin, using the extra-special eye moisturiser to attack and smooth out my creeping crow’s feet.
I go to bed shiny. Not from a youthful dewy glow as was, but because there is a slick of oleaginous face cream clinging to my cheekbones for all its forty quid’s worth. I take my clothes off slowly and then, far from snuggling under the covers a la Marilyn Monroe i.e in Chanel No5 and bugger all else, I switch the electric blanket on and pull on my nightie. You’d think that was it; you’d be wrong. My nightly, nostril ritual has yet to be addressed, where I have to snort steroid, allergy relief up each one before swigging down an anti-histamine. This is all very well as long as I have remembered to refill my tumbler with fresh water as there is often little left of it in the morning as the cat creeps in at night and helps himself to it. So, very often I have to get out of bed again and go to the bathroom to top it up. I return to my duvet only to pick up my book and groan. My glasses are in my handbag. Damn and bloody blast. Up I get again, walk downstairs, rummage through impossibly messy handbag, find my glasses, before eventually getting into bed for the third and final time. By the time I’ve put the glasses on my nose, my interest in my book has waned and it’s all I can do to muster the energy to extinguish the light. This is what habitually happens most nights, unless a bottle of wine has featured in the run up to bedtime by which time I throw caution to the wind and fall into bed recklessly ignoring my routine waking like Heath Ledger’s fateful Joker. I wasn’t best pleased therefore to be breakfasting with Hubby after my routine had been religiously adhered to only for him to compare me with something akin to the Bride of Dracula.
I tried to ignore him and concentrate on the obituaries but my glasses didn’t seem to be working. I exhaled onto the lenses, polished them and put them back on. To no avail. I still found it hard to make out how old Betty Pengelly had been when she’d died.
I rang Specsavers. They had an appointment at 11.35. The eye test was very thorough, I rested my chin hither and yon, stared into the distance, pressed buttons and, to add to the experience, had the added novelty of having the inside of my eyeball photographed, and all this before I even met with an optician. When I finally did it was an enlightening experience. I’d never seen the inside of my eye before. It looked as though it had a tumour in it. “What the hell is that black mass?” I asked, my breath suspended with anxiety.
“And those veins and that artery? And hell, is that my optic nerve? My retina? Do I have glaucoma? Mascular degeneration? My God! I’m going blind!”.
“Mrs Band”, he said patiently, “There is nothing wrong with your eyes. You have beautiful eyes”. Ok, so he may have been talking about the insides of my eyes and not the limpid, green pools of my irises, but still it was the nicest thing that anyone’s ever said to me. For an awfully long time.

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