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I, Too, Feel Bad About My Neck

March 3, 2014 - Diane Laney Fitzpatrick

I hope I'm not plagiarizing Nora Ephron, but I'm a firm believer that mimicry is the most adorable form of flattery and I need all the help I can get. Especially in the neck area.

At 55, I'm long overdue for night creams and wrinkle reducers and youth serums and other products that I think are amazing when I see the infomercials, but then hate like poison when I see that I have to go on a payment plan to afford them. So when I walked into Sephora yesterday and stage-whispered to the first black-lab-coated saleswoman who walked up to me, "I need something for this" and grabbed my gobbler and stretched it out, the whole scene should have happened about five years ago.

But it didn't. It happened yesterday, and I'm not going to agonize over that. I 'm slow to catch up to my actual age. My brain and heart seem to be about 5-10 years behind my body and its slow, steady decay. There are several reasons for this.

One, I'm immature. Two, I hate the time and effort it takes to try to look good. It just doesn't seem worth it. I feel like I'm too smart to spend more than a few minutes and a few cents per day on my looks. I mean, really, I only just a few years ago started using product in my hair. Six months before that I didn't even know what product meant.

And third - and I know this is going to take me down a few notches in your opinion of me and my intelligence - but when I was a young girl, I fantasized about being a middle-aged housewife. While other girls were imagining a future as an actress or Speaker of the House or even shift supervisor at the hospital, I was leafing through the JCPenney catalog and fantasizing that I was in my 40s and I had a bunch of kids of all ages, a handsome husband, and a three-bedroom ranch with a finished basement. And then I would pretend the whole family was going out to a picnic or a wedding or some event, and I would pick out all of our outfits. I would plan my own look from the models, who were conveniently all middle-aged housewife types. I was classy and sensible with a frosted flip and understated makeup, and I possessed a beauty so deep that all the peach and mauve plaid polyester couldn't hide it. I had lots of other fantasies, some that had me accomplishing a lot more than matching the purse and shoes I wore to the neighborhood July Fourth gathering, but the most prominent vision of my future was that of a gracefully aging woman.

So when the crows feet, mousy hair and saggy jaw started to appear in my real life, I wasn't all that freaked out. Botox and plastic surgery were not an option. (Have you seen Melanie Griffith lately?) I had to muster up some energy to even deal with it at all. I'm inexplicably and unapologetically comfortable looking my age. So at first I simply dimmed the lights and bought a Photoshop package. It wasn't until I saw my neck in a selfie that I thought, Oh hell. It's time to hit Sephora.

The black-coated saleswoman led me to the way-back of the store, where they keep the non-makeup makeup, and introduced me to Jeff, a skin care expert. I was relieved that he wasn't 17 and as far as I could tell didn't even color his hair, let alone sport any other enhancements that are so popular with Sephora employees. To tell the truth, Jeff looked a little out of place. He and I were the only ones not wearing 3 shades of eyeshadow.

I repeated my neck problem and he started nodding his head halfway through my declaration.

"I know exactly what you mean," he said. "I'm 57." Oh thank god. He walked directly over to a shelf and picked up two DermaDoctor products and told me that's what I needed. Then he told me how much that was going to cost me. "Is that more than you wanted to spend?"

"Nobody wants to spend $156 to make one notecard-sized patch of skin look better," I said. "Do you sell turtlenecks? 'Cause you should." When Sephora opens a clothing line in the way-way-back of the store, remember, I thought of it first.

~ ~ ~

Diane Laney Fitzpatrick is the author of Home Sweet Homes: How Bundt Cakes, Bubble Wrap, and My Accent Helped Me Survive Nine Moves. Her Just Humor Me column runs here on her website at


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