Thwart and Conceal

laire stands in front of her bathroom vanity in nothing but a towel, holding her iPad over the back of her head, trying use the vanity’s mirror to angle the iPad’s front camera to capture the bald spot she is certain has started at the end of her hair’s part. She holds the iPad in both hands and twists this way and that, keeping a thumb constantly over the shutter button and waiting for the bald spot to appear in the mirror. She has been here for five minutes.

“Come on you annoying thing!” Claire snarls at the back of her head, “I know you’re there. Show yourself!”

The alleged bald spot refuses to comply.

Claire knows the bald spot exists because the Beauty Specialist at the Black and White Monikered Beauty Store told her it did when she went in for her free to Diamond Status shoppers makeover. Diamond stats requires you spend $1,000 or more in beauty products a year. The beauty specialist examined Claire’s 35 year old skin and immediately started discussing the effects of aging, including dark circles, deep wrinkles, large pores, and, last but not least, bald spots.

“You never want to show your age,” the B.S. told Claire as she rubbed some $100 wrinkle serum on Claire’s face. “It’s hard enough on us women as it is, without having to look old.”

Claire wholeheartedly agreed. She is not worried about dark circles, deep wrinkles, or large pores. The B.S. was able to suggest the appropriate beauty potions for that. Sadly, the B.S. did not have a cure for that bald spot. She told Claire to locate it and then discuss it with her hair stylist, whom Claire is seeing this very evening.

Claire clears a space on the vanity’s counter, which among the thwart and conceal cacophony and hoists herself up onto the vanity’s counter. is cluttered with glass bottles and plastic tubes from everybody’s favorite black and white monikered beauty store. Each bottle and tube has a purpose: to thwart the inevitable process of aging.

She leans in closer to the mirror, still holding the iPad with both hands over the back of her head. Her arms are sore. Her thumb is aching from being positioned over the camera’s shutter button for so long. The towel loosens itself from around her chest. Sweat washes away the layer of murky flesh-toned fluid applied to her face that morning. A thigh brushes up against a frosted bottle filled with a strangely chemical-smelling liquid. The bottle totters for second, threatening to fall over, but it doesn’t.

Finally, Claire thinks she has the elusive bald spot in the camera’s lens. She clicks the camera’s shutter button in triumph and hops off the vanity. As glass bottles full of thwart and conceal potions falls over and break, Claire looks at the photo and sees a full head of hair. The bald spot isn’t there. Claire sighs and starts cleaning up the vanity, preparing for another go with the iPad camera. That’s when she glances in the mirror and sees her face, now devoid of all makeup and potions. Claire stares hard into the mirror, looking for the under eye circles, the smile lines, the sagging chin. She can’t see them.

Did she truly need all of those jars and tubes, or did she simply fall prey to a retailer’s well-intentioned B.S.? Is there truly any harm in looking your age?

Claire sets the iPad down, picks up a towel to protect her hands and a large garbage can. She sweeps the vanity clean, washes her face, Next time she’ll check Glossy Magazine and see what they say before heading to the beauty counter.

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