Thoughts from the ammo line

Ammo Grrrll has a vision of our BRAVE NEW WORLD. She writes:

Well, L’il Jimmy Accost-Her has prevailed in litigating his inalienable right to wrestle young women for the mic. (Geez, isn’t that pathetically phallic?) The Democrats did NOT prevail in stealing elections in Florida or Georgia. And that’s all the politics I can stand today. In happy news, my book is selling well. Click on the cute little book picture on the book shelf below and get yours before Amazon runs out! Okay, I just made that up to encourage you to hurry, because they print the books one at a time as ordered. They are a dollar off for Black Friday and beyond!

But the big happy news this week is that our son sent us (by actual snail mail!) the school picture of our 13-year-old step-grandson. He is a very handsome young man, though I’m sure no more handsome than your grandchildren, if your grandchildren could be movie stars.

The sweet, round, dimpled 11-year-old face smiling at me from the fridge has lost its baby fat and has now taken on the contours that will serve him well in adulthood. Among his striking features, we noticed his perfect skin.

Our son texted us that he has “normal” teenage skin, but that there is now an option in school pictures: One can pay extra for some amount of airbrushing! What an extraordinary new world! It sounds like just one more pampered thing, but, actually, I approve. Thirteen (also 14-45) is a traumatic enough time. If some minor little thing can be “fixed”, why not do it?

Now, speaking for myself, this would have resulted in no improvement at all to my senior picture, the only year for which we had pictures when I was growing up. I was blessed with clear teenage skin, praise the Lord, but a very prominent nose. So, my picture would have needed a virtual nose job rather than airbrushing. And a much better hairdo. Maybe a makeover. And a more flattering outfit. Other than that, it was just fine.

The only time I ever had a skin “eruption” was on Prom Night when a zit appeared – of course, it did – right on my nose. Yes, the feature that I most wanted to draw attention away from, sprouted a great big ugly red glowing welt, such that, like Rudolph, I could have guided Santa’s sleigh with it. Seriously, Lord? THIS was a critical part of your grand eternal plan?

If suffering builds character, I must have character up the wazoo. “Character” must be the only thing that a teenage girl prizes more than “a good personality” in that famous fix-up line: “No, really, you’ll like Susan. She’s not fat and she is pretty funny and she has a great personality … for a manic-depressive…mostly manic, actually. Did I say funny?”

How we get through high school still ambulatory and not permanently in the fetal position is anyone’s guess. Two groups of people seemed to have fared the best back in my day: good-looking girls and athletic boys. The adult men I have known who were star athletes in high school retained a high level of confidence throughout their whole lives.

Randy, one of my best friends back in Minnesota, was a track star in a large high school in Iowa. He set records that endured for over 25 years. He ran track competitively for the Army before he got sent to Vietnam. From being a top athlete, he came away as one of the three or four most self-confident people I have ever known. From surviving Vietnam, he came away fearing nothing ever again. But, Lord, at what a price.

The Paranoid Texan Next Door was captain of everything – football, basketball, track. He is modest as well as paranoid, and pooh poohs the whole thing by explaining that the school in his Texas town was so small that everybody had to be in everything in order to field teams. But I believe those athletic achievements helped give him the confidence to go from college into Information Technology (IT), for which he wasn’t formally trained at all. The whole field was in its infancy. What probably helped even more was that he was also valedictorian. Yeah, come to think of it, I bet that was decisive.

Being a really beautiful girl is more of a mixed bag in my observation, from knowing a few. On the one hand, it would seem to be a sure-fire ticket to wealth, fame, and happiness. The “average” among us might wish for a chance to find out. But life is more complicated than that. Several gorgeous actresses, most notably, Elizabeth Taylor, Delta Burke, and Kirstie Alley – really struggled with their weight. And were made the butt of cruel jokes when they failed at that. What wretched impulse is there within us all at one time or another that just delights in seeing the high and mighty laid low?

For even the pretty women that don’t get heavy, there’s no way – outside of dying young like Marilyn – to not get old. All the cosmetic surgery, Estee Lauder, Pilates, and dieting in the world will not stave off the inevitable. Women born in exactly my year include Dolly Parton, Susan Sarandon, Bette Midler and Cher. Dolly seems pretty centered, but I bet I’m the happiest of them all with my long-term marriage, modest lifestyle, fun careers as comic and columnist, and wonderful friends. (I take none of these blessings for granted, believe me.)

A whole new crop of lovely young ladies invades Hollywood every year. Women who were playing ingenues start to play the mothers of ingenues and then just disappear. At the Oscars when they have the traditional tribute to stars who have passed away since the last Oscars, who among us has not said, “Holy Cow! I had no idea she was even still ALIVE.”

The lovely Candace Bergen admitted in a sad interview decades ago that she searched the mirror every day for signs of aging. Some of the most beautiful women I have known are afraid that they are only prized for their pretty faces and that they are easily traded for newer models. Then again, I have also known a few who are pretty, smart, kind and psychologically healthy. Lucky ladies with lucky husbands.

To bring us back full circle to my opening thoughts about my grandson’s airbrushed photo, if I could go back to that angst-filled time of life and change anything, I would not do it – even with perfect 20/20 hindsight – if it would mean that I would not end up exactly where I am today. On the other hand, if there is such a thing as reincarnation, maybe the next go-round, I could look like either Halle Berry or Grace Kelly. You know, just to see how that would work out. Pretty sure “Princess” would not be in the cards. I would be the worst one ever. Mr. AG – famous novelist Max Cossack – is cuter than Ranier anyway. Lucky me!

Have you ever seen a picture of Princess Grace in a Tactical Range t-shirt with holes in the bottom from bore cleaning fluid? I thought not. I bet she had staff to clean her guns.

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