It turns out that my past is spotty.
And yours may be, too.
I learned this when I turned 60.
(I'm still getting used to saying that, much less seeing it in print.)
All of us women have to cope with the signs of aging, and some of us do so better than others.
I mostly ignore it.
I'm not a model, so I don't earn a living by the way I look, and I've come to like my face, even with its laugh lines, since I like to laugh.
I know that sometimes my cheeks look drawn and hollow, which is the kind of thing that tempts some women to opt for injections of filler.
I don't judge, but that isn't my style.
As soon as I hear injections, I'm gone.
And the only filler my face needs is carbohydrates.
The same is true of face-lifts or cosmetic surgery. I don't blame anybody who does it, but my fear kicks in at surgery.
Though I have to admit that I've been tempted recently, a fact I discovered by accident. After summer was over, I noticed an oddly dark spot on my cheek, and since I wasn't always careful about using sunscreen, I worried it was cancer. The very notion sent me scurrying to the Internet, where I looked at various horrifying slides and learned the acronym ABCDE, which stands for asymmetry, border, color, diameter, and evolving.
Now, you learned something, and so did I.
The last time I had memorized an acronym with as much interest was when I was getting engaged, and I learned about the four C's for engagement rings.
Cut, clarity, color, carat.
Much more fun.
Worried, I called around and found a dermatologist, a woman reputed to be a great doctor, though on the brusque side.
In other words, a woman of few words.
I hadn't even known such a creature existed.
Obviously, she's the direct opposite of me, but I wasn't looking for love, just to stay alive.
Anyway, the dermatologist suggested I come in for a mole check.
I agreed, though she'd said it so fast, I thought she'd said "mold check."
Which was probably more accurate.
I'm not getting old, I'm getting mold.
Or maybe I'm molting.
Either way, I went to the dermatologist, who examined the suspicious mole and determined it was benign.
I promised myself never to skip the sunscreen ever again.
Then the dermatologist frowned behind the contraption that magnified her eyes to two brown marbles. She pointed to my temples and said, "You have quite a lot of keratoses."
Again, I didn't understand because she was looking at my forehead, not my toesies. "What did you say?"
"These brownish spots on your temples. You have so many."
Thanks, I thought, but didn't say. "They're from the sun, aren't they?"
"No, that's a common misconception. They're hereditary."
I remembered then that my father used to have them, which might have been the reason I never minded them. Because they reminded me of him.
The dermatologist said, "They're not related to age, but they age you, and I can remove them."
"Hold on." The dermatologist left the office, then returned with a Styrofoam cup of what looked like coffee, because a curlicue of steam wafted from inside the cup. Before I could understand what was going on, she swiped a Q-tip inside the cup and pressed it to my temple.
"Ow," I blurted out. "What is that?"
"Liquid nitrogen. It burns, right?"
"Right." I bit my lip as she swiped the Q-tip back in the Styrofoam cup and pressed it on a few other places on my temples.
I wanted my mommy, but didn't say so.
Because that would have been immature.
The dermatologist finished up, saying, "That's all for now. Call my office in a week or so and make an appointment to remove the others."
I thanked her and left the office, my forehead a field of red dots, like a constellation that spelled out:
WE AGE YOU.
A week later, the red dots had turned brown and fallen off, and in their place was fresh pink skin.
I could see that I looked better, maybe even younger.
But I have to say, I missed looking like my father.
And I think I'll leave the other ones alone.