Chicago, IL

Ladies, is the Last Year Etched on Your Face?

Sherry McGuinn

Because it sure as heck is on mine.

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Before the pandemic, and the year from hell that might just morph into another year from hell, I thought I had a certain glow about me, you know? Smooth skin, relatively wrinkle-free. A decent ass. No batwings, or turkey wattle.

All in all, not too shabby. Especially for a woman in her 60s. I don’t like the fact that I feel the need to add that disclaimer but the reality is, I’m not a doe-eyed nymph. Although sometimes, I feel like one! (Especially when I dance around in my underwear. Does that count?)

Pre-Covid, I stuck to a healthy eating plan, worked out at the gym regularly, and in general, felt damned good about myself. It wasn’t easy, but well worth the time and effort. After being diagnosed with breast cancer five years ago, I was determined to stay as fit as possible, without getting too obsessive about it.

Let me just say: That shit has left the building. The simplest way to explain it is to say that I feel as if I’ve aged five years in the last nearly-twelve-months of a shit show that has comprised “daily life.”

In spite of the fact that I exercise at home every single day, I’m at least eight pounds heavier than I was last year at this time. That’s a concerning number to me because eight extra pounds of flab can quickly jump to ten and fifteen and well, you know the rest. If this makes me sound like someone who isn’t “body positive,” so be it. Because right now, I’m not.

Every morning when I weigh myself, which I’ve started to do daily, for the sake of “accountability,” I feel as if someone dropped a brick on my head. In my mind, two pounds of water weight is still two pounds.

I feel and look, wiped out. Along with pissed and frightened and disgusted. Angry. All. The. Time. All the emotions that everyone is dealing with. How much of this rot can you hold inside before your whole persona changes, much like Dorian Gray’s in the Oscar Wilde classic?

My super-low-carb diet has fallen off track with my new-found affinity for jalapeno poppers and quick-cooking barley. Not together, mind you. But I do love carbs.

Now barley, I realize is a healthy grain, but carbohydrates of any kind have a negative effect on me. As in “fat ass.” No can do, nor do I want to.

I used to snack on apples with peanut butter every day and drank gallons of green tea. Now, I stand in front of the fridge and pick on whatever is left over from the night before. Or two nights before. Or even, three.

Yes, I have an amazing tolerance for “previously-used” foodstuffs.

To top it off, I’ve been hitting the vino way too hard. And we all know what booze does to our bodies, inside and out. It’s dehydrating as hell, for one thing, and even though I’ve been working hard to up my water intake, going for a pee every five minutes is debilitating in its own right. How do people do it?

The reason I targeted this story to the women here is that men, outwardly at least, never seem to get that “caved in” look that we gals get when under extreme stress. Why do you think that is?

We slather ourselves with every lotion, cream, and unguent that promises all the crap we know they’ll never deliver, and men, well, a little soap and water, a spritz of deodorant (or not, these days) and they’re good to go. The old saw is true: By and large, men do age “better” than we chicas.

Although it feels like this mind-switch from self-confidence to self-loathing hit me — BOOM — all at once, I know it’s been a gradual progression and I’ve been in denial over it. But I need to wake myself up. Because the shit can only go downhill from here.

I blame Donald Trump. Yes, I blame this maniac for damn near every terrible thing that’s happened to this country and its citizens. He is a pestilence on two legs and why he is still breathing feels like a personal affront.

By the way, if Trump had Covid, I’m a rodeo clown.

I knew he wouldn’t magically disappear, but naively, I believed that once Joe Biden won the election, as he did fairly and legally, our situation would look a bit brighter. Like the impending warmth of a summer’s day, when we were kids…and time seemed to stretch on, forever. Ahhh. Finally!

Well, it hasn’t gotten brighter. Every single thing sucks. Because this disgrace of a “human being” just won’t shut the hell up and his staff is too cowed to do anything about it.

As terrible as it sounds, this is where my mind goes to these days: Last night, we turned on C-Span for a while to watch the Orange Felon warm up his crowd full of maskless crackers. All crammed in together, some of them barely listening as their Fuhrer spewed lie after bullshit lie.

Watching him, I felt my stomach tighten like a violin string, and every time he uttered the word “rigged,” which he did repeatedly, I waited for a shot to ring out or a bomb to drop. And when his empty-headed Barbie Doll of a daughter took to the podium, that was it for me.

How much more of this would we have to endure? One would think that the PHONE CALL would seal his fate. But no, no, no. He continues to bleat and Tweet and threaten his sycophants and vow, “Four more years!”

Anyone here nearing a breaking point? Ladies, do you look in the mirror and wonder where the hell you went?

Any men here feel the same? I shouldn’t discount the fact that many of you probably do.

For me, I’m going to try to return to my regimen with a vengeance, if nothing else than to keep myself from imploding. But I know in my heart that all the exercise and healthy eating and beauty products in the world won’t bring us back to ourselves.

What will? The end of Donald Trump as we know him.

© Sherry McGuinn, 2020. All Rights Reserved.

Sherry McGuinn is a slightly-twisted, longtime Chicago-area writer and award-winning screenwriter. Her work has appeared in The Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, and numerous other publications. Sherry’s manager is currently pitching her newest screenplay, a drama with dark, comedic overtones and inspired by a true story.

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Chicago, IL
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