Monday, February 24, 2003

Prior question

One of my prior questions: Do people know when they get old or do they think they aren't old?

Now why would I ask that?

The obvious reason: When I was nine, thirteen seemed REALLY old. When I was 23, 28 seemed REALLY old. Etc. Then when you are 13 or 28 or 31 you don't think you are old anymore. Does this go on indefinitely. Do you think this when you are 90. Do you say 'heh, heh I remember when I used to think 90 was really, really old....' right before you keel over into your plate of soft and pliable food?

Another reason: It would be weird to think "I'm old! Yup! I'm done for! I'm really old!"

People are always in denial. You always want to be the one with the total handle on the truth. But you never are--you're just as deluded as the next person and they think they know what they're about also.

Which answers an interesting question I have been asking myself lately. It is part of the 'why bother'? question--a much larger question.

(Oh why did I do all that acid in my youth? It seemed to have burned the 'why bother' question deeply and permanently into my brain. It's a real disadvantage career-wise. But that's another issue.)

One question I wonder about is why I bother with what can euphemistically be called 'anti-aging' techniques. Like the vast majority of women I actually spend a certain amount of money on certain kinds of moisturizer. Actually, I buy the cheap kind. It is unclear to me because in the abstract I do not truly care how I look. Nor do I really care how anyone looks. I'm too tired to care. I barely look at people in the first place. I mean--I do but I don't. I register that they are occupying space but when I do look at them I find their face interesting or something and don't often think much about whether they are hot or not.

It is sort of like my approach to food. I like 'space food.' I like dehydrated or pre-created protein bar things that take 45 seconds to eat. That whole 'eating' thing generally seems like a big hassle. So does looking at people. So does looking at myself.

On the other hand I have literally hundreds of pairs of fairly sexy underwear. I need to wear sexy underwear and always have even when there was not the slightest possibility of anyone seeing my underwear. The thought of wearing jocky cotton underwear seems horrific. Sometimes I think the only explanation of this is early brainwashing of some kind--some kind of consumer programming that you undergo when you are asleep. A wave pulsing through the darkness or subliminal messages underneath the muzak.

To get back to the main point I was wondering why I am bothering to preserve my beauty when I hardly care whether I am beautiful or not. To be honest, at this point I can't see why the difference between people's appearance has the profound and deep significance it is so often thought to have.

Maybe I got confused about this when I lived in Los Angeles for 2 years and it seemed that meeting all your human needs--such as love and companionship or even getting directions--would depend on what you looked like. However, once I moved from Los Angeles this no longer seemed plausible.

I have several theories about beauty maintenance but none are satisfying. One is simply fear of change. One is fear of death. I think I crave death while I am still young if only to get out of paying my bills and thereby cheat my creditors. It would help me get out of work and avoid failure to die before I've had a chance to waste my astounding potential. Perhaps I am still a normal person, however, and actually fear death. Aging will remind me that I will die and this daily reminder must be beaten off so that I can enjoy the last few years of the illusion that I won't die.

One explanation is to avoid thinking about the fact that I am highly immature and thus shocking people with my immaturity. So far I have no wrinkles to speak of. And this is good because I am completely irresponsible and when people find out that I am over thirty they always seem confused and somewhat disconcerted by my inability to act like an adult. So at least I can pose for a little while longer.

Actually, I think a kind of social programming is the best explanation of all--Still, I realized something even if I really am just a product of my culture and unable to act freely. And this is that there's something like a game in the idea of avoiding for as long as possible the confrontation with your own decay and mortality.

It's a beating the system thing. I love to beat the system whenever possible. I had weeks of euphoria when I paid my taxes a year late and got out of the fines. (Did you know that the IRS will always let you off the hook if it is your first time fucking up? It's true!)

I like to park in the no parking zone as I've said before because of the thrill of not getting a ticket. I like to let deadlines go by and then see if I can get out of the trouble I've caused for myself. I like to do the minimum or do things the wrong way and see how successful I can be anyway. I used to like to see if I could get A's on tests without studying for them. I like to ask bureaucrats for favors and see if they will break the rules for me thus proving to myself that a flexibility exists in what seems like a seamless consumer hierarchy.

I'm immature--remember?

So at least part of the idea of creams and lotions and good makeup and rosy cheeks is the idea that you might be the one who beats the system. You might be the person who gets to 60 but who can pretend that she is not 60...You might stave off age and entropy longer than everyone else does. You might get some kind of favor and extend your youth far past the moment you were supposed to.

Stretching the boundaries of the normal human life cycle is all the rage nowadays. Finally, I am with the zeitgeist!

Holy God. What am I thinking? There is no way to beat the system on that level. What am I going to do--chop off my head and have it cryogenically frozen? Sheesh. Sometimes I can't believe myself.

Anyway, by the time I get really old they will probably have some kind of special cure for death. Right? Right?


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