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Humming along to Brenda Lee's "Jingle Bell Rock," I'm almost ready to leave for my follow-up appointment with Dr. P. Perr, my optometrist. I'm not sure what the P. stands for, but it could be Petunia for all I care. Not exactly tall, dark or handsome, he is, however, a doctor. My friend Gertie's told me for years that I should snag myself a well-to-do man; she never said he had to be handsome. So what if this one's short, fair and as far south of handsome as one can travel without booking a flight? Professional men hob knob with the higher-classed crowd, you know. And since Nancy, Dr. P's assistant, told me he's headed down the divorce trail, there's hope for me yet.

I wanted to make myself so darned gorgeous, he'd have little choice but to forget his wife, old what's her name, and notice me. So after my shower, I sat at the vanity table and gazed into the mirror. I frowned (well, I could have sworn I did, but my expression didn't change; those Botox injections I got yesterday really work!). What was that jutting from my left cheek? On closer inspection, I saw that not only was it hair, but the three "tresses" were long enough to put Rapunzel in a snit! Wasn't it just yesterday that I visited Mimi, my electrolysist? The woman must be visually impaired. Was I expected to French braid the monstrosities and fashion them into a makeshift bun then walk around looking like Princess Leia after a rough night on the town?

Aquamarine Post-It-Note to self: Add Mimi to Christmas list. Purchase a seeing-eye dog and Braille instructions.

It was time to put in my new gray contact lenses. I chose that color in honor of Dr. P., who wore a tie that very shade the last time I saw him. Lenses inserted, I wiped away the automatic tears and looked at my reflection. I shrieked so loudly that the cat shot straight up off my bed, most likely losing one of her remaining seven lives in the process. Now I ask you, would I have bought the darned contacts if I'd known I'd look like that cat in "Pet Semetary?"

After my initial disappointment in the new look, I applied moisturizer (along with several helpings of wrinkle repellant – a gal can't be too careful, you know), foundation, blush and eye makeup. I looked at the results and know darned well I frowned again because my eyelashes looked stunted. I decided to use the new heat-seeking eyelash curler that Trina, my Acme Beauty Representative, delivered Monday. Battery-operated, it didn't take long to get nice and warm. Ok, really warm, but who can go wrong with an Acme product, right?

I followed the instructions verbatim, and my left eyelash looked cute and perky, just as I'd hoped. I repeated the steps on my other lashes, but my arm grew tired from holding the gizmo. Consequently, I guess I must have relaxed my fingers a tad. Big mistake. I'm not sure whether I felt the searing heat first or smelled the scorched skin. At any rate, I now sport crescent-shaped, Acme-induced scar tissue a quarter of an inch below my right eyebrow. I look as if God hiccupped when He created me.

Lime Green Neon Post-It-Note to self: Christmas for Trina – a "like new" Acme Eyelash Curler, Neosporin and Band Aids.

Next I tackled my hair. Yesterday afternoon, I videotaped Maggie, my hairdresser, so I was confident I could repeat what she did with the curling iron. Halfway into the process, my hair got caught in the heated brush; apparently I'd wound it a bit tight and none too smoothly. How come hairdressers make it look so easy? I tugged, pleaded, pulled. Finally the curling iron released my captive hair and I let out a relief-filled sigh. But I should never have looked down at the appliance. Gobs of my mane were wrapped around the barrel! I let out a war whoop that would make Custer's knees buckle. My eyes crept to the mirror. I almost fell off my vanity chair – there were more curls in the curling iron than in the forefront of my head! If a gaping bald spot didn't get my mirror-carrying membership to Egos Anonymous revoked, I hated to see what would. I wondered if there was a twelve-step program to help me through the ordeal. I spent the next twenty minutes in an attempt to sweep what's left of my hair over the gap. I ended up looking like Mortie the grocer!

Hot Pink Post-It-Note to self: The heck with Christmas – courier Maggie an anonymous, hair-encrusted curling iron today!

Resisting the urge to open my Prozac and down the contents, I slipped into black slacks and buttoned into a new hot pink blouse I bought yesterday. Pink, black and white earrings completed the ensemble. At least they did yesterday! A few minutes ago, I thought maybe if I tied a white scarf around my head it would cover the bald crater, as well as blend with the outfit. Apparently thinking isn’t my forte.

I'm finished tying the scarf now, but a glance at my watch tells me I've got to hustle – no time to review the damage in my mirror. I slip into black Prada’s and am finally ready to go. Before I head out the door, I grab my purse, unable to resist one last look in the full-length mirror in the foyer. My jaw drops. Staring back at me is a de-haired, Star Wars-cheeked, dead-cat-eyed woman dressed like a giant box of Good & Plenty!

Chin aquiver, I pull my cell phone from my purse. "Hello, Nancy? It's Barb. Yes, Happy Holidays to you, too, Hon. Listen, I can't make this afternoon's appointment.” I repeat Nancy's question about when I can reschedule. Then, mouth tight, injected forehead impassive, and vision fixed on the cue ball of a forehead peeking out from under my scarf, I dab at my creepy looking eyes and say, "Um … I'm thinking maybe late July."

April Winters hopes to help people forget their troubles through her stories, even if it’s only for a little while. Her other works can be read at The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Linguistic Erosion, The Short Humour Site, The Story Shack, and here at Short-Story.Me.


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