I’ve always had a round face, with chubby cheeks that bend and stretch with every goofy expression, a little “butt chin” poking out. (And when a boy in one of my classes informed me of this term in grade school, I spent the better part of the year attempting to flatten the east and west butt sides of my chin dimple, to no avai.l)
By 12 and 13 I was engulfed in teen magazines informing me that bob hair cuts don’t work well with round faces, that my bangs were scrunching and exacerbating that circular look, too, and I’d better employ a long hippie style if I wanted to make my curved face have some length. Luckily, it was becoming more acceptable to toss the hairspray and huge bangs and let them grow out. I also have hair that only wants to be long and straight. Because I hated haircuts I had no idea how to make my hair do anything but fall fast to its ends.
When I was 15, I completed training as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), and started work the week of my 16th birthday. Suddenly I was surrounded by people from another generation, gals who grew up watching Mae West, Jean Harlow, Betty Grable, and Joan Blondell on the big screen. Some of those ladies even had butt chins! I remember quite vividly, while putting an elderly woman to bed or chatting her up while I helped her with breakfast, she’d say, “I love your round face, I always wished I had a pretty round face like yours.”
It’s probably one of those things I remember because it struck a chord with some inner insecurity. I mean, those were the days of Cindi Crawford, of starved cheek bones pointing out of long, alien looking faces on all the famous females. It was like the time the Minnetonka Youth Symphony Orchestra instructor/conductor told me I had nice hands -- somehow that moment is frozen in time for me, because, at 14, I was convinced mine were fat man hands. It’s nice when people surprise you.
Along with this round face (even in my skinny college years, these cheeks were still puffed like a mouthful of marshmallows), I have always been blessed with pimples. According to elders in the family gene pool, these will stay with me long after my current, mid-30s age. They’re not the monsters of my teen years. These are older, more dignified zits. And, although the teenager inside of me screams, the older I get, the cuter they become. They make me look young, ha ha! That round baby face with that scattering of pimples is probably the reason clerks at stores sometimes still ask me for identification.
It wasn’t that long ago that I was on a road trip, my dog waiting in the car on a 100-degree day while I ran into a gas station. I went through the long line, impatiently, and then realized, when I got back to my car, I had forgotten to get a book of matches Since the line was still equally as long, I knew I couldn’t butt in and try to grab a book, so I waited again. When I got back to the counter, the worker asked to see my license for the matches, which made for another walk to the car and another wait in that long line! It also allowed for a bit of reflection time for my final interaction with the guy, who I ultimately told to “hurry up, I’ve got tree houses to burn down.”
I guess I’m lucky, I’ll keep this baby face even as the gray hairs begin to grow in. (They are concentrated over my right temple. Phrenologically speaking, it is the “comparison” part of the brain, the part they used to believe compared the sensations and notions excited by all the brain’s other faculties. This is where the brain points out the similitudes, analogies, differences of identity, and “comprehends their relations, harmony or discord.” Hmm.)
Sometimes, (although seriously, I’m not complaining), I do wish that people wouldn’t mistake me for younger than I am. I know, I know, this feeling will pass, and all too quickly. But sometimes, only sometimes, I feel like I am getting the ol’ college student brush-off, when all I want is a little mid-thirties respect. (I promise, I am making fun of myself right now.)
One time, while trying to get a photo taken on picture day for a media pass at a school district I used to cover, after I carefully explained that I was a newspaper reporter who needed said pass, etc., etc., the woman blinked and asked, “So what grade are you in?” She didn’t even peg me for an obvious senior. Bother!
It’s even worse when there are no seats left at a long meeting, and none of the young bucks give up a seat for me, because I don’t look like I’m propped up by an 80-year-old back.
And I wish I looked too old to be up to any mischief with matches and tree houses