By Barbara Falconer Newhall
I feel bad about my lip. My upper lip.
Nora Ephron felt bad about her neck, a body part she made famous back in 2006 with her book I Feel Bad About My Neck.
Nora also felt bad about her frizzy grey hair, parched skin, incipient mustache, flabby upper arms, and tendency toward belly fat.
She did not, however, seem to be bothered by the bottoms of her feet.
I am. My toe prints and footprints – technically known as friction ridges – seem to have worn down a bit with the passing years, making stepping into a slippery bathtub a life-threatening proposition.
Slick feet aside, my getting older complaints are pretty much the same as Nora’s. I feel bad about my neck, my upper arms, the frizzing of my hair, the curving of my spine, and the extra – let’s call it tissue – across my ribs and belly.
But right now I’m mainly focusing on feeling bad about my upper lip.
What’s left of it.
Day by day and year by year, my upper lip has gotten smaller and smaller and narrower and narrower. (See for yourself. There’s a mug shot at the top of this page.)
Before long it will be a straight shot, vertically speaking, from the bottom of my nose to the modest bump that is my lower lip.
We Falconers have never been famous for dewy, luscious, bee-sting lips. Unlike say, Angelina Jolie. And unlike the Newhalls, whose lips can sometimes run to the downright lascivious. Take my husband Jon, for example. I think maybe I married him, and stayed married to him, for those lips of his. They were and continue to be ever so full and . . . generous.
My disappearing upper lip, on the other hand, is anything but generous. It makes me look mean. Mean as in unkind. Mean as in stingy. Mean as in mean.
So mean, in fact, that I’m afraid it will scare away the grandchildren.
Not that I have grandchildren. But by the time I do, I’m pretty sure that upper lip of mine will be a thing of the past.
I could do like Lucille Ball. I could ignore my lip line and draw a nice lipsticky mouth way outside the kissing part of my lip. But that would be a 1940s thing to do – and my decade of choice is the ’60s, when the hip woman kept her lipstick confined to her lips, if she wore it at all.
I could do the Botox, of course. But like I said, my aesthetic is 1960s natural. My body is a temple and all that. No messing with Mother Nature.
I’m going to die someday, I’m told. But dying isn’t my sorrow of the moment. First of all, it isn’t really going to happen to me; dying is what happens to other people, people I care about maybe, but other people nonetheless.
No. It’s the decades that lie before me, the decades on the way to this dying that trouble me right now.
Where my body is concerned, matters are going to get worse. The breasts will continue on their way toward the waistline. The hair will thin. The body fat will move around some more. My fingerprints will go the way of my toe prints.
And my upper lip. It will vanish.
Without a presentable upper lip, how will I kiss the grandchildren?
More to the point, will they let me?
Next week: Tune in for the answers to today’s luscious lips quiz.
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Right now: Check out “Mad Men Exposes the ’60s Girdle — But Will She Get It Off In Time?”
“I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman,” Nora Ephron, Knopf, 2006, $19.95, hardcover.