It was my birthday last Sunday. How old am I now? Dream on! All I’m willing to reveal is that in the past decade, the state of my eyesight can no longer be associated with regal birds featuring giant wing spans. Nowadays, without my glasses, my sight is reminiscent of nocturnal flying rodents with inverted sleeping habits.
Basically, I can see the big picture, but not the small print. This is a drag, of course, but since I’m not one to mooch on the drab side of life, I’ve decided to embrace the positive aspects of hypermetropia.
Lens-less, when I look in the mirror, I don’t feel an irrepressible urge to float my arms into the air, pick up my skirts and twirl away trilling “I feel pretty”, but neither do I gasp with horror and dash off to dial 1-800-Nip/Tuck either. Sans lunettes, my fine lines, my not-so-fine lines, my crow’s feet, assorted dry patches and random dodgy bits are magically Photoshopped.
Generally, first thing in the morning (when I need all the Photoshopping I can get), I enjoy tripping around the house with reality pleasantly out of focus. I’ll have breakfast with my family and, once they’ve left, I’ll hop in the shower and reach for my familiar soaps and gels, my shampoos and conditioners. Then, pink and fresh and squeaky clean, I’ll slap on some moisturizer, get dressed, put my glasses on, do some tidying up and then head for my office, with my two little dogs pattering along behind me.
But last Monday began rather differently.
I’d had a busy birthday weekend, and with my first book release scheduled for Tuesday, I knew the days ahead were bound to be even busier. Consequently, I decided to treat myself to a slow start and stayed in bed a little longer. The house was empty when I finally got up and made myself a mug of tea. Feeling a little risqué, I took my mug back to bed and read a book for half an hour while the dogs lay on the bedside rug, snoring. It was lovely!
It was so lovely that when I finally rolled out of bed, I went into published author/glamour puss mode, opting for a long morning soak in the bath instead of my usual quick fix in the shower. Besides, I had some nice new goodies to heighten my bathing experience; my family and friends know I’m a sucker for bubbles and crystals and oils, and had lavishly indulged me over the weekend. I reckoned I’d slip into the age of literary success, sophistication, and maturity by relaxing in hot, perfumed water.
Channeling Nora Roberts, Jackie Collins and various other literary sirens, I lit a lilac scented candle, put on some soft music and tuned on the taps. I’d like to say I shimmied out of my champagne colored silk negligee, but that would be a lie, so I’m going to admit to struggling out my old flannel PJs.
I stepped into the tub and reached for a brand new bottle of ocean blue bath crystals with a big, stylized fish on its label. While Spanish guitar music wafted from the CD player, and multicolored leaves danced outside my window in the cold November wind, I unscrewed the bottle-top and poured a ribbon of ultra fine, cerulean salts into the water. Drifting in a Caribbean blue, I lay back, closed my eyes and relaxed, my long hair spreading out around me like a mermaid’s. I inhaled a somewhat pungent, steamy blue bliss, opened my eyes, lifted one foot and, with my big toe, drew a blue circle above the surface of the water on the far end of the bathtub.
“Wow, what brilliant bath salts!” I mused, languidly sketching a lopsided heart. Was this some sort of multitasking formula, designed to stimulate people’s artistic skills while they bathed? Wonders never cease! I lay daydreaming for a while, then sat up and doodled a daisy with one finger, my hair dribbling blue rivulets down my body…
Wait a minute! Blue rivulets dribbling down my body?
Perplexed, I stood up and squinted at myself in the large mirror opposite the bath, and nearly burst my Botoxed brow. Was this some kind of joke? What the devil was in these bath salts? Why was I Smurf blue from my head to my toes?
More alarmingly, why was I so horribly itchy? And – crikey! – was I going to have to repaint the bathroom to match the streaky, marbled, speckled, bright blue bath before my husband came home that evening?
Nora Roberts, Jackie Collins and the rest of the sirens immediately decided they had more important things to do. They cleared their throats, wished me well and left, leaving me floundering in Smurf City, naked, lost, and all alone.
Whimpering, I pulled the plug and jumped out, leaping straight into the shower cubicle. I turned on the water and stood under the deluge, scrubbing myself with soap, dredging my Smurf hair in shampoo, anxiously watching the colored water drain away. To my relief, eventually (and I mean mucho eventually) the water ran clear, so I stepped out and wrapped myself in a towel, wincing as the thick cotton came into contact with various particularly irritated areas of my anatomy.
Muttering under my breath, I slathered my skin in ultra-soothing, one hundred percent organic body lotion, grabbed the incriminated bottle, went into my bedroom, found my glasses and zeroed in on the label.
And promptly had another panic attack.
This elaborately packaged, fishily decorated bottle did not contain bath salts, but chemically colored sand to be used strictly for decorative purposes.
“Avoid contact with skin” warned the initial small print, before yelling, “DO NOT INHALE!”. This was followed by an endless list of diabolical chemicals in a microscopic font that stubbornly defied my nocturnal rodent eyesight, specs or no specs.
If my skin had been crawling before, it was now formicating. I could feel my pores oozing carcinogenic substances. My pulse galloped off into a red, raw, apocalyptic future. I raced back into the bathroom and plunged back into the shower where I remained for a good part of the morning, emerging only to ring my Mama.
“You’d better go and scrub the bath; Cedric’ll have a fit!” she gasped, after I’d poured out my Smurf woes.
“But…what about my skin?” I bleated
“Oh, you’ll be all right! Rub on some Nivea, and take a couple of drops of Fenistil. Now, have you got any bleach? You’re going to have to fill the bath with cold water, and then…”
Cedric didn’t have a fit. By the time he came home, the entire house reeked of bleach, the bath had never been whiter and I was high on a cocktail of bleach vapors and antihistamines.
The kids were blasting the hastily downloaded Smurf song on the stereo, openly mocking me. When I told Cedric my Smurf story, he just chuckled. “Didn’t you read the label?” he said, then began his usual evening routine of striding up and down, straightening bedcovers, plumping up pillows, shutting cupboard doors, aligning magazines and books. My husband is lovely, but he’s a bit of a neat freak.
“The bottle had a bloody fish on it!” I protested. “I just assumed…”
But he’d already gone to empty the dishwasher. I retrieved my glasses from beneath the fiesta of papers, chocolate wrappers, biscuit crumbs, coffee cups, eye drops, school forms, hair elastics and other flotsam squatting my desk, bunged them on and smurfed into the kitchen to make dinner.
There’s a new pink Post-It on the pin-board above my computer. It reads: “Welcome to the age of literary success, sophistication and maturity. Don’t count your chickens without your glasses on.”
Thank you for the warm welcome. Yes, I’m a published author. Now, if only I could get the Smurf Song out of my head…
Francesca is the author of “MUCHO CALIENTE! – Wish upon a Latino Superstar”