Why didn’t you tell me my neck would fall?
The scene is a gathering at lunch with a group of women friends. We’re all on different diets, or healthy eating plans, which is the more politically correct way of saying that we’re 2 pounds from having to live in elastic waist pants. One of us is a Weight Watcher who orders a salmon salad and takes out her measuring spoon and pours one tablespoon of olive oil on the lettuce, another is a whole foods vegan who eats nothing that has been cooked over 118 degrees Farenheit, and another is on the high protein keto plan so she ordered a steak lathered in butter. In this way we are all different. But we are bonded in many other areas and there is one that leaps to the top of the list.
We are all of a certain age and that is to say that I am certain we are all over 50. One of us poses the hypothetical question, “if you were to be allowed only one (or one more) cosmetic surgery. What will it be?” And with that, these women all flap the hanging chads under their chin and shout, “the neck! It has to be the neck!”
Let me pay homage to Nora Ephron who felt badly about her neck 13 years ago before I had to face this awful truth on my own. 13 years ago I felt badly about my extra 20 pounds, having my father’s legs, giving up a career, and yelling at my teenage children. 13 years later not much has changed except that I have traded yelling at my kids, who cleverly grew up and moved out of the house, for finding new brown spots on my skin, counting crevices around my mouth, and taking and deleting selfies of my neck.
The strange thing is that I’m so generous with everyone else when they ponder if they should do fillers, tuck their tummies or lift their faces. I almost always vote against it telling them they look great and I almost always mean it. But when it comes to self assessment all I can do is look at my profile in the mirror and wonder if, instead of obsessively trying to lose 20 pounds, I should be gaining weight which might fill in the skin around my neck making that the solution. And that thought almost always leads to a bowl of pasta.
If the eyes are the mirror into the soul, the neck is the mirror that screams you’re heading past the middle age mark. It is unforgiving. I might feel 40 on the inside, but the neck is like a neon sign advertising my true age. Left untouched it doesn’t lie. It seemed to me that this happened overnight. One day, I thought I looked good for my age and the next morning while taking a walk, I felt the wind flapping against what I thought was the scarf around my neck except that I wasn’t wearing a scarf. When I got home and looked in the mirror, I thought, “It’s my Grandma Esther.”
I was lucky enough to recently go a trip to India with several of my women friends. India, it seems, is not only a spiritual destination, but it turns out that it’s also an amazing destination for the purchase of scarves, deftly feeding the soul and the wardrobe at the same time. Up until this trip, the only scarf I owned was a 20 year old wool thing that I would keep for the occasional foray into cold climates. But on this trip all of the women were in a feeding frenzy for scarves. They taught me how a scarf flung around the neck just right can hide the turkey neck and draw attention to the beautiful accessory instead. I bought 15 scarves. For the first few weeks back in Los Angeles, I donned a new scarf everyday. It didn’t matter that some days the temperature rose to the upper 70s and I was trading showing off my neck for perspiring in unattractive places. My sagging neck was kept under wraps.
There are many variations on the demise of the firm youthful neck. There are women who have several deep lines running across the circumference of their necks mimicking the rings on a tree trunk that determine the age of the tree. I never saw that in myself but for the purpose of research, I took a new round of selfies of my neck. I was horrified to find that in addition to the loose droop, those tell-tale rings around the neck have appeared without warning as suddenly as Kafka’s Gregor’s transformation from man to cockroach. And without mercy the skin above the neck has decided to fall to meet its brethren.
So what to make of all of this? One thing leads to another and, although I haven’t checked this out for myself yet, friends tell me that you can’t do the neck without lifting the face and when I think about that, all that comes to my mind is, “then what?” And having done a couple of things in the past (more on that another time), I know that these tweaks are never as easy as the doctors say and I also know that I’ll still have my father’s legs so where will it stop? It’s a personal decision but, for me, I think I’ll just buy some summer weight scarves and sweat this one out.