polite circumstances

When I was about to turn 30, I found myself living in the Valley of the Sun among a group of very thirsty people who insisted on calling where I came from “back east.”

Now, if I was interested in living in Scottsdale at all at that time — aside from the draw of being with the then “love of my life” — it was the prospect of the zero humidity that promised an end to my lifelong battle with my unruly frizzy hair.

It was 1989, I was months from turning 30 and truly, smooth hair was all I lusted for — worried over — and worked for in the category of women’s grooming concerns. 

A good hair day and I felt like a goddess — a bad one — a troll. 

My simple and innocent self-image — when it came to matters of beauty at least — was about to meet the anti-aging devil for the first time.

In the desert, no less. 

After a few glasses of wine with some single 40 something women, it went something like this:

“Who are you thinking of using for your boob job?”

“What?  Why do you need to do that?”

“You don’t know what we’re up against miss perky chest.”

“C’mon, really?  You really want a guy who only gave you a second look because of something that’s not even you?  Don’t you want to be loved for who you are?”

“Easy for you to say while your face is still tight and you look good in any light —”

“But, still —”

“No, you don’t get it.  Women your age are lined up for men our age and we don’t stand a chance at even getting a first date if we can’t compete with firm and supple.”

“I don’t believe you.  If that’s true, I’d rather be alone.”

Ah, the arrogance and ignorance of youth.

With 50 on the horizon, I get it now. 

The war against the frizzies now runs a close second to any one in a growing list of borders that must be patrolled — and the time has come when being met with politeness is both yearned for and feared.

As in the polite expression “you look good for your age” — dreadful to hear.  And the way your heart leaps for joy when you enter a room with low soft lighting.

Even though I admit it’s a much tougher sell than it used to be, I am still holding out for a man who loves me naked in any kind of light. 

And yet.

I’m no fool — it’s gonna take some mighty polite circumstances to get the ball rolling.

Author: Julie Ann Stevens

My art flows from the patterns & paths of my lived experience which ⏤ like yours ⏤ are at once deeply personal and entirely universal.

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