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by Rose Madeline Mula

As I grow older, I am slowly disappearing. Not just shrinking in height, but less and less of what’s left of me is visible, gradually being covered by longer layers of clothing as cellulite, flab and wrinkles encroach.

When I was young (wasn’t that just last week?) I never thought of myself as pretty, but at least I never had a weight problem. Though I didn’t realize it then, when I look at old pictures, I see I really had great legs and a nice figure. But all that changed before I had a chance to fully appreciate these attributes — and before I had the opportunity to display them to the world at large since bikinis had not yet made their appearance on American beaches. I saw my first one in 1960 in Nice during my first jaunt to Europe. I couldn’t believe how daring its young wearer was — parading around in public, practically naked! I still have the picture I sneakily took of her with my telephoto lens, and I can’t imagine why I was so shocked. Her suit looks practically puritanical, compared to today’s shoe-string thongs and barely-there tops, often worn by many who should be following my example and covering up unsightly body parts.

As for me, the first to disappear from public view were my dimpled thighs, followed by my knees, calves, and ankles. Their departure was gradual as I switched from short shorts to Bermudas to Capris to long pants — from micro-mini to mini- to knee-length skirts and dresses to those that sweep the floor. I tell people I just love how graceful and romantic they look.

And forget about sandals and peek-toe shoes. My feet were always ugly and, unlike fine wine, have not improved with age. The first thing I do when I get to a beach is bury them in the sand. Elsewhere I cover them in closed shoes and high-laced sneakers. No pedicures for me. I’m too embarrassed to allow anyone such close access to my twisted toes. During a trip to upstate New York to visit my niece Shelley and her family a few years ago, one of our outings was to an indoor swim meet where her six-year-old daughter, Maddie, would be competing. Since I can’t even dog paddle, I was thrilled at the prospect of watching Maddie swim — until we got to the pool and Shelley informed me that no shoes or socks were allowed. “You gotta take them off,” she said. And not a grain of sand in sight to sink my tootsies into! I couldn’t have been more embarrassed if I had to strip naked and expose my flabby stomach.

Come to think of it, when did that get here? I never had a protruding tummy. But I do now, even though I’m not overweight. And when did my once perky breasts become pendulums? Damn Isaac Newton for discovering gravity!

Also banished from public view these days are my upper arms, which seemingly overnight developed those flapping appendages that keep waving long after I’ve stopped — like the ones I used to tease my elderly aunt about, never thinking it could happen to me. Serves me right. At any rate, since no amount of weight lifting has banished them, I now hide them. Gone from my closet are all those adorable sleeveless shirts and tank tops that I loved, and soon to follow will be all my short-sleeved tees. Recently I’ve been buying only blouses and sweaters with elbow-length sleeves. And, I hate to say it, but since even my forearms have begun to develop prune-like lines, soon I’ll be limited to wrist-length sleeves. But then what do I do about my hands with their prominent veins and knuckles swollen by arthritis? I’ve been trying to come up with an excuse to wear gloves year-round, even indoors. Do you think people will believe me if I say I have a germ fetish?

Unfortunately, that pretext won’t work for wearing turtlenecks and scarves in the summer, so how do I hide my crumpling neck and developing jowls from May through September?

As for the creases that have suddenly furrowed my face, other than plastic surgery (which I’d be afraid to try even if I could afford it), my only recourse would be a combover — one long enough to reach from my temples to my chin. Unfortunately, even that isn’t feasible because my once-abundant curly hair is thinning.

What to do? How to hide the ravages of age?

Eureka! I have a solution! Does anyone know where I can get a deal on burkhas?

©2010 Rose Madeline Mula for






Editor's Note: Rose Mula's most recent book, The Beautiful People and Other Aggravations, is now available at your favorite bookstore, through and other online bookstores, and through Pelican Publishing (800-843-1724), as is her previous book, If These Are Laugh Lines, I'm Having Way Too Much Fun.


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