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Your mother was right - looks aren’t everything

January 27, 2019

Quite naturally, around this time of year, a lot of folks take out gym memberships in an effort to improve their bodies that are bloated from leftover fruitcake and sitting around watching characters die on reruns of “Downton Abbey.” This is a good effort, and I also have followed the trend. I didn’t say I actually use the membership; that would be a radical step. I simply have signed up for the gym in a desperate ploy not to improve my body, but my social image, which I am constantly striving to update.

It’s hard to work on your body when most of it is composed of replacement parts that you could easily buy at a home improvement center. At this point in my life, I am 90 percent titanium. Any more metal and I would have to file a separate tax return identifying the signature as belonging to the owner of Chop Shop.

Honestly, I can’t even drive by an airport without setting off an alarm that calls for a full evacuation of all terminals.

Planes are grounded instantaneously, as that much metal interferes with flight patterns. And people have been known to leave their baggage and flee outside to random fields, no doubt drawn by the uranium grid.

So at my age, I try to focus on things I can control, like the TV remote and the amount of sprinkles I put on that double fudge sundae with whipped cream and bananas. 

Right now, I have a problem of a different kind: my hair or what it is trying to achieve. This summer, while I was going through chemotherapy for ovarian cancer, my hair thinned out to the point where I looked like one of the three Stooges or an alien, or at the very least someone from the future.

I didn’t mind this so much, since most people, after one look at my skull, were very kind, letting me in line ahead of them or giving up a chair for me to sit in. 

Once chemotherapy was completed, I started to get seedlings of hair pushing their way in on top of my head. It kind of looked like sod had been installed for a new lawn. You probably had a brother or uncle on leave from the military who sported the same buzz cut. It reminded you of the Eddie Haskell type you had a crush on in high school and who turned out to still be wearing a Che Guevara T-shirt for the rest of his life, even at the 50th class reunion.

Then I grew more hair, but this came in awkwardly and in different colors, and still short. I took on the appearance of Jim Carrey in the movie “Dumb and Dumber.” There were no bangs; in fact there was no effort at all for control. People were still kind, but I sensed a certain reluctance. You could tell they knew something was wrong, but they were unsure if it was worth losing their space in line. 

And now I have come to the point where it looks like I went to a beauty salon for a haircut, had a panic attack and fled the salon without getting it finished. I have definitely lost my cutting-in-line privileges. 

Wearing hats, scarves, boots and heavy blanket coats is the new norm. I can cover up all I want, but I can tell from my journey, it’s what’s inside that really counts. My appearance doesn’t matter, compared to the warmth of a heart.

People won’t remember what you looked like, what you said or what you did. But they will remember how you made them feel, so the saying goes. Let’s keep it going to stay in that warmth.

  • Nancy Katz has a degree in creative writing and is the author of the book, "Notes from the Beach." She has written the column Around Town for the Cape Gazette for twenty years. Her style is satirical and deals with all aspects of living in a resort area on Delmarva.