My Public Apology to My Skin

Dear Skin,

Sure, I know you're the "largest organ in [my] body." I learned that little tricky tidbit ages ago from some snide classmate quizzing me on trivia in order to show up one of the gifted kids.* I know that there are some very simple ways to nurture you.
  1. Drink lots of water. I try to. I go through nice long habit-forming streaks of filling a gallon jug with water in the morning and working to polish it off by bedtime. It goes great while it lasts. Though I'm not sure it lasts long enough to make any real difference to you.
  2. Get plenty of sleep. I'm a mother and a wife. That's all I'm going to say on that point.
  3. Don't pop pimples. Seriously? Everyone ignores this one. And everyone pretends they adhere to it vigorously and that they're grossed out by everyone else's popping. OK, maybe we all ignore it and yet are also grossed out by everyone else.
  4. Avoid touching your face with your hands. Wha? Like I should wear gloves when I touch my own face? Not lean on my left hand while I surf the Nets? Not rub my eyes (please see #2)? Not pop pimples? (Oh, wait. Right.)
  5. Keep hair away from your face. I wear bangs to cover my ridiculously high forehead. Always will. Deal with it.
  6. Wear sunblock and sunglasses all the frakking time. All right, I paraphrased that one. But it's all right, because this one I'm actually now pretty good about. I have major glare issues in my eyes the last few years. I keep spare pairs of sunglasses everywhere and wear them unless it's actually the dead of night. And I keep sunblock in my house, my purse, and my car and apply it generously.
However, there's nothing in my routine that I'd call a skin-care regimen. I use whatever body gel they have on sale at Target that doesn't "smell too girly" (Joe and I share). I use Clinique's Dramatically Different Moisturizer on my face when it feels tight across my cheeks (which probably already means it's too late). But that's pretty much it.

I mean well, skin. I really do have good intentions. I buy luxurious Bath & Body Works body creams and use them diligently for about a week after I get them. You drink in the moisture and revel while it lasts, I'm sure. I buy grape seed masks and enjoy the peel-away-the-gross-ick-from-my-pores feeling on a regular basis until company comes over. Then everything on the bathroom counter gets tidied into cupboards to be forgotten. I'm a big proponent/victim of that whole out-of-sight-out-of-mind thing.

I buy my Clinique moisturizer during Bonus Time so I can get sample sizes of all the new and latest technologically advanced skin-care goos, creams and gels. I use them for a few days and pretend I can already see how youthfully glowing you have become. But then ennui or fatigue or amnesia sets in and stuff gets shoved aside and forgotten.

If you weren't already so good to me, skin, maybe I'd take more care of you. But you've always been rather clear and youthful. Recently I'm beginning to realize that your pale creaminess** is becoming increasingly marred with freckles I've never seen before, scars of baking accidents long past, and *gasp* wrinkles that don't subside when my facial expressions do. In a middle- and high-school world of girls with great hair, great legs, great teeth, great boobs, "I'd kill to have great skin like yours!" always seemed like the Miss Congeniality award of teen beauty.

I suspect that taking care of you is rather a too-little-too-late proposition at this point. But I'm going to give it a go. For real this time. Honest. I'm going to drag out all the bottles, tubs, jars and tubes, check all the expiration dates, and use all those products like the love child of Ponce de Leon and Nicholas Flamel and stick to a regimen for once.

Sure I will. Until company comes over.

I'm sorry, skin.

*Yeah, how much does that suck. "You think you're so smart? Well, [insert bizarre question they heard on Ripley's Believe it or Not the night before] Do you know that? Huh? Yeah, you're not so smart." Cue the further weakening of the already fragile 5th grade girl's self-esteem.

**If we were placed on this map, I think we'd be somewhere between that milky cream color and the zombie-like grey. Maybe in summertime we creep down from the tundra toward rosy pink.


My Public Apology to the Banana

Dear Banana,

You are an ideal fruit, from what I'm told. You replenish electrolytes. You contain three natural sugars for a quick energy boost. You're easy to serve, what with your handy peel and all. Your attractive shade of yellow makes it abundantly clear when you're not-nearly-ripe, not-quite-ripe, perfectly ripe, time-for-banana-nut-bread-ripe, and whoa-Nelly-how'd-this-banana-hide-in-the-bottom-of-the-fruit-bowl-this-long?-ripe.

I'm sorry I went years without buying or eating one of you.

But, you see, it's not really my fault. It's my toddler daughter's fault. Really. Her wild-abandonment-passion for you necessitating a daily (or more often) serving of bananas just at the age when all meals required bite-size-chopping followed by pincer-gripping, smearing, mushing, shampooing, nostril-stuffing, etc of all foodstuffs did me in. Well, all that aromatic and slimy banana drama coupled with the oversensitive nasal passages of my pregnant body ... it did me in.

So, there you are ... equal blame between my two kids. Not really my fault at all. Nope. Nada. Zilch. Zero.

Still, I'm sorry.

Starting in the first trimester of my second pregnancy (say, Thanksgiving 2000), I could no longer stand the smell of you. You were everywhere, in every orifice, skin fold, crevice, pore of my tiny daughter's body. Every day. Sometimes twice. You were slimier than the nastiest diaper change, the gooey-est used tissue. It got to the point where I had to pinch my nose shut with one hand, wrestle my fortunately-light toddler out of her high chair with one hand and whisk her squirming, you-slippery body right into the bathtub; stripping her naked and rinsing her off all one-handed. Otherwise ... the gagging, the ineffectual retching, the nausea for hours. Not fun.

I expect the phase to pass, but it didn't. In fact, it got bad enough that I just couldn't do it any more. Just the act of pulling one of you off the bunch and starting to peel you would unleash a Pavlovian gag reflex of anticipation. Eventually, all banana-related activities fell firmly into a paternal jurisdiction.

Even after the baby was born, I still couldn't approach you. I was just starting to think of a mind-over-matter approach to getting over this phobia when my second-born entered the gross-out phase of eating and the whole thing started all over again.

By the time my baby had turned three and mastered some level of cutlery control, I decided that enough was indeed enough. It was time to re-introduce bananas into my life. But, I tell you, banana, it was rough.

I had to start with that most-wonderful-yet-not-terribly-authentic banana treat ... banana-pudding-in-a-Nilla-wafer-crust pie. YUM! I thought I was on a roll. But, nope....still couldn't tolerate peeling the real thing without a gorge-rising reaction. sigh and Grrr...

Baby steps. Three baby steps forward and two baby steps back. Over and over again.

It took time. Years, in fact. Eventually I could eat an actual banana. Just did today, in fact. You're pretty yummy. But there's still a moment, a pause, a doubt each and every time, "Can I do this?"

I'm sorry, banana. You have many wonderful qualities, but you're just never gonna hold that special place in the fruit bowl of my heart any more.

A-peel-ing to your better nature (oh so uncalled for....),