I must admit I have a warped nostalgia for the commercials of my youth. I can sing, in one breath, the entire Oreo cookie song, and do so pretty much every time I see one. My daughter asked me one day how I did something, and I told her it was an “ancient Chinese secret.” She looked at me like I was speaking Chinese. And to this day, I cannot watch a sunset without hearing in my memory, “going, going, gone…” “Do it again, Daddy!” At a time when I was naive to the evils of advertising, commercials were fun (“No, silly, I’m talking to the toilet paper”) and lighthearted, and I was easily and eagerly impressionable.
I don’t feel that way any longer, now that a commercial has ruined my life.
Many of you are aware that, despite my childhood nostalgia, I do not watch much television at this point in my life. I wish I had not been watching this particular night, as well, as the images and ideas refuse to leave my mind and probably never will. This is why I don’t watch television, I have reminded myself. But the damage has already been done.
For the life of me, I don’t remember where I was when this occurred, nor do I remember what I was watching at the time. Someone was trying to get me to buy something, and then suddenly there was a woman in front of a mirror, gazing intently at her face. The woman raised one finger to each temple, and then very gently lifted up her cheeks. And then another woman. And then another. I cocked my head to one side. Another woman. My eyebrow went up. Another woman. I began to think about how I was going to get nonchalantly to the bathroom. Ten or fifteen women, all told, all around my age, examined themselves in the mirror in that 60-second, million-dollar spot. And then one more got up and excused herself to the bathroom.
Eyebrow still raised, lips pursed, I stood in front of the mirror, knowing I should just turn around and walk away. But like a dieter drawn to the buffet, I could not help myself. One arm lifted, then the other. I placed my fingers to my temples. I looked deep into my eyes. I lifted.
Today I turn 37. They tell me I will be at peace one day with the wrinkles across my forehead, the jowls around my mouth, the salt beginning to mix with my pepper–but not today. Today I am 37 in a world of 27 year olds, and I wish I’d started using the Mary Kay a whole HECK of a lot sooner.
And I wish to God I’d NEVER seen that commercial…