Like a baby that finally drops into your pelvis to signal impending motherhood, my wattle dropped the other day to herald impending death. Too dramatic? Maybe, but we all know there’s no coming back from a wattle drop. You can color your hair, peel your skin, lift your eyebrows or Botox your lips, but when the wattle drops, it’s committed. The wattle hangs there, under your chin, as if suspended from each of your ears like a hammock, but without the relaxing effect. It’s just skin that stopped trying.
Unless you choose to go under the knife, there’s no escaping the wattle. Oh sure, you can buy all the turtlenecks you can afford, but what to do in June, July and August? Scarves you’re thinking, and you’d be right, but even scarves have their limitations. Besides being completely useless in a swimming pool, what happens when you wrap a couple of yards of chiffon around your neck on an 85-degree summer day? Hot flashes. At least a scarf can sop up the sweat dripping down your face. Otherwise, you’re on your own with a wattle. There are times you might get away with coyly resting your chin in your cupped hand. But you can’t walk around that way. How do you drive? How do you drink wine?
My wattle lurked menacingly above my neck for the last several years, just waiting for the day to ambush me. It’s tricky, the wattle; some days it retreated and let me believe I could be mistaken for Audrey Hepburn. But after a couple of margaritas and a little water retention, it would be back in all its threatening sagginess. Eventually I’d have to deal with it permanently, but until then it was forgotten as easily as my children’s names.
And then, one day, there it was. A flap of wrinkled skin, quivering ever so slightly just under my jaw line. Remember when quivering used to be sexy? Ingénues used to quiver. Now it’s an ever-present indicator of getting older: quivering chins, hands, gaits, memories. Wikipedia describes wattles as “such a striking morphological characteristic of animals that it features in their common name.” Wattles are for turkeys, goats and lizards. How in the world did it become a feature of an aging woman?
Resigned, I practiced tilting my head upwards in my bathroom mirror. That worked until I had to pick up my grandson from school. “Gramma. Why are you walking that way? You just stepped in dog-doo!” Apparently no amount of camouflage or physical adaptation is going to prevent the fact that I am now a member of a new species.
Just call me The Silver-Haired Single-Wattled American Female.