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Michelle Lovato: There's a first time for everything

The Adventures of Garlic Man and Wedgie Woman

Posted: February 19, 2009 1:17 a.m.
Updated: February 19, 2009 4:55 a.m.

I ordered lunch at my newly not-so-favorite fast-food restaurant last weekend, and the cashier, whom I’ve known for five years, asked me if I wanted the senior discount.

I stood agape. He wasn’t joking.

“I’m 44,” I squeaked.

My 15-year-old daughter laughed out loud.

“I always thought Dad looked older,” she said, as I held her up.

“On second thought,” I said to the cashier. “I’ll skip the fries and make that a bean burrito.”

A breeze curled through my bright young daughter’s hair as I shot passed her on my way to the car. With my frozen-purple fingers curled tightly around my makeup bag, I jumped into the driver’s seat and yanked down the mirror.

“New rule: Never leave without at least a pound of face goo.”

I rubbed on foundation, swirled on rouge. I stuck myself in the eye with a really useless eyeliner pencil that spread around on my lid and gave the appearance that I had a pair of black eyes.

“This is better?” I walked toward my darling daughter feigning dignity. It didn’t work.

Later, she told me that I actually slithered in with my husband’s stained 30-year-old ski jacket pulled up to my ears, crinkling my neck in my famous turtle pose.

“Put your glasses on. Your face is naked,” she said as I approached. Why did I choose to bear children?
“You want me to draw on my eyebrows with a Sharpie?”

“You already did that. Scary.”

I plopped into the cold plastic booth and began fondling my hot bean burrito. I sucked in a big steaming bite and pondered my reason for consuming the pint-sized pintos every day.

I never had to resort to healthy eating before. I should have laid off all that cheese.

“I’ve been wondering ...  when are you going to start dying your hair?”


“Serious. I’ve been meaning to tell you.”

Why, Lord, why?

“Grandma was an old lady before she showed her age,” I sparred.

“Yeah. So, what’s your point?”

I turned my attention to the decidedly depressing day of my mother’s maternal disintegration.

Good ol’ Mom arrived at my desert doorstep ready to shop. She was my best friend and we went everywhere important together. And outlet shopping was definitely at the top or our list. Mom and I shared a brisk walk from the end of the outlet mall parking lot and dug in to a Levi’s bargain bin when she started coughing. No. Hacking. Furious hacking.

“Lordy, Mom. You getting old, or what?”

Our shopping was flopping.

We headed toward the local fast-food pavilions for sodas and a bite. She paid with her brand-new ATM card. My mom’s cool, I thought of her eternal desire to keep up with life. I heard banks were offering plastic money keys.

“Bean cup and water?” I said.

“Too much cheese,” she coughed.

“You are looking a little ... stern-faced.”

“Wait till you’re old.”

“First of all. You’re not old, just decrepit-looking. Besides, I’m never going to look old. I’m 29, and I just got carded.”

“Age arrives quickly and refuses to leave.”

“Words of wisdom, too, Mom? When you going to start dying your hair?”

She leaned in to make a point.

“I started dying my hair when you were in high school.”

What did she mean by that?

I threw a sideways smirk her way and took a good long look at the old lady.

Fifty is nifty? I wondered.

New rule. Never wear make up again. It makes you look old.

“Still hungry?” my smart-aleck teenage offspring asked interrupting my thoughts as I washed my beans to their digestive destiny. I glared at her, confused.

“Not already,” she shouted. “Don’t tell me you’re losing your hearing, too.”

I stared into to her bright young eyes and smiled politely.

“Nah. I stopped listening to you when you got into junior high school.”


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