I treasure my anonymity. I wrap it around myself like a burrito wraps itself around beans. It allows me to write whatever I want. It (usually) keeps me from offending people. It makes me falsely brave, and allows me to share deep, neurotic confidences with strangers. Like this one, for example. I know, it also means that I’m chicken shit, but I’ll go with that. I’ve always maintained that being invisible frees me up creatively. I try to stay honest, and I try to stay true, but really, if all my real-life friends and family were reading the things I post, it would seriously cramp my style. I’d be disowned, disavowed, disinherited from my vast family fortune and by now, fired from about six different jobs.
So I hide. I like hiding.
It’s become a bit complicated lately. My blog friend. Wendy and her husband, Buck, recently hired me to write for them, and it’s been wonderful and fun and fantastic. I’m meeting new people, telling their stories, and making them happy. I’m taking photos of their motorcycles, which in essence are bikers’ babies, and who wouldn’t be delighted to have someone brag about their baby? Who wouldn’t be thrilled to do that for a living? I know I am.
In the beginning, when I first started writing for them, Wendy said, “I realize that this is going to cause you to have a panic attack, but y’know, at some point we’re going to need a picture of you. We show photos of all of our writers.” Bear in mind that after all these years, Wendy’s never seen me. In fact, I use my blog name when we speak on the phone (I do have a few friends who call me “Moonie,” so that’s not such a big deal), and I always use a pseudonym when I write. Still, when she told me this, I promptly agreed to comply, then conveniently forgot all about it.
It all goes back to anonymity. I’m glad that you can’t see me, that you have no preconceived notions about me based on the way I look, unless perhaps you imagine me like that little photo in the upper right hand corner of this page. But mostly, I like it that the words go from my fingertips to your brain, with no visuals of me to clog things up. I could look like Quasimodo’s big sister, and you’d never know.
A few weeks ago, I spoke to Buck on the phone, and he brought up the subject of my name, which isn’t really my name, but in a way kind of is. “I think you should be writing under the name ‘Moonbeam’,” he said.
“I can’t.” I whined. “I’m just kind of weird about it. I want to keep my blog writing separate from my other writing. I don’t want to mess with my online persona. I don’t want to confuse my readers.”
“Yeah,” he laughed. “Because your blog makes you so much money.” Touché.
Anyway, none if this is really what this blog post is about. What this blog post is about is that, at the root of all of these neuroses, is a deficiency in self-esteem. I’m less than fond of the way I look, especially in profile. I hate having pictures taken of myself, and have gone so far as to contact friends on Facebook to request that they remove my visage, so as to keep from upchucking on my computer screen. It mortifies me. I’m fighting with middle age (okay, old age), and while I like the way I look just fine in my mind, a photographic image serves as a reminder that what I see in my head is not what the rest of the world sees. It’s a phobia, and I’ve had it since childhood.
So Wendy called me again. “We need a photo.”
Buck e-mailed me. “We need a photo.” I started getting hives.
I contacted my daughter and asked her if she’d shoot some pictures of me, knowing that she is the only person on Earth patient enough to snap 14,000 images so that maybe, just maybe, I could cull one good one. I’m also comfortable enough with her so that my face doesn’t contort into a series of blinks, tics, scowls and other assorted unpleasant expressions during the photographic process. She agreed to do it.
By the way, Wendy is the Queen of Photoshop, and this made me feel a little less anxious. I’ve seen evidence of her skillz. She swore she could make me blonde and twenty, and I believed her. “You’re like a surgeon,” I told her earnestly.
My daughter took a bunch a photos, and a few were actually almost decent. I e-mailed five head shots to Wendy. “Feel free to remove all wrinkles, gray hairs and pores,” I wrote. In actuality, I wanted her to remove my head, but that seemed a little overboard.
She sent me back a very sweet e-mail. “You’re beautiful,” she lied. “I hardly had to do anything to it. Let me know what you think.” I opened the attached, Photoshopped picture, expecting to be airbrushed to the hilt. I was hoping for goddess, though I would’ve settled for soccer mom. But what Wendy did was to correct a flaw that I didn’t know I had. A new flaw, another body part to obsess about.
Wendy gave me lips.
“Oh my god,” I told Amadeus. “Wendy gave me lips.” They weren’t big, pookie Angelina Jolie lips; she just added a little padding, a little definition.
I thought I’d completed my mental list of plastic surgery objectives long ago. The eye lift, the face lift, rhinoplasty, chin-oplasty, implants, the waist-to-knee liposuction, the works. But I’d honestly never considered my lips. Okay, maybe I had, but I guess I was in denial about the extent of my imperfection. I hadn’t realized I needed a Photoshop intervention.
This transpired a couple of weeks ago, and I’ve been thinking lips ever since. Keep in mind that this was all for one damned photo, no bigger than a postage stamp, in a magazine that’s only read by bikers. Still, I’m a professional worrier (PW), and I can’t stop thinking about my lack of lipped-ness. I looked up facercises online, and I’m now doing twenty sets of lip lifts, six times a day. It’s not working.
Tonight, I was looking at photos of Kate Middleton, that British chick who, by the time you read this, will have married Prince, or a prince of some sort. Her photo’s plastered all over my Yahoo mail page, and as I saw Her Thinness waving at her soon-to-be subjects, I noticed that A: She’s beautiful, and B: She’s got thinner lips than I do. This made me happy, but it also made me wonder what other beautiful people suffer from liplessness. I do plan to be beautiful one day, once I’ve won the lottery and completed the Plastic Surgery Wish List, so I started researching.
“Famous women with thin lips,” I Googled.
And so, without further ado, I present my newly compiled List of the Lipless.
I wondered– was there a link between being named Kate and having no lips? I quickly looked up other Kates. Katie Couric has no lips at all, and Katy Perry is lacking in upper lip, but Kate Capshaw, Kate Beckinsale and Kate Winslet are pouty, so my theory quickly died.
Jennifer Aniston was listed as lipless, as were Heidi Klum and Reba McEntire. Gwyneth Paltrow is top lipless. Nicole Kidman used to have lips as thin as rubber bands, but apparently has adopted some fatter ones.
I’m sure there are more lip deficient celebrities, but I had to stop there. My hives were starting to come back. Amadeus, who’s a band instructor and a musician and a sweetie, told me that lips like mine are very good for playing french horn. I wonder which is cheaper, collagen injections or a ten pound brass instrument.
Anyway, I’m taking my angsty self to bed. I’ll do my lip lifts while praying for the people of Japan. Then I’ll fade out, dreaming of playing the french horn in a punk band.