Monday, December 13, 2010

I Know Where Wrinkles Come From

I know where wrinkles come from

This weekend, my son came home from college on the pretense of studying for exams. I was suspicious his visit had more to do with lack of clean laundry than with hitting the books, and I also knew he was adamant about being present to supervise the annual battle known as “The Selection of the Tree.” This is always a rather sensitive event as there is a wide range of opinions in our family regarding the correct height and girth required to meet the criteria of the perfect Christmas tree. One would think this would be a happy, blessed holiday time, but we are an extremely opinionated bunch, and there is always much debate about which tree is taller, rounder, fuller, fresher, fluffier, sturdier, greener, and smellier (in a nice way). The underlying consensus is always that fatter is better, and I only hope this has nothing to say about the Daly family in general.

However, after much debate and effort, the tree was finally up and decorated. In fact, we had stuffed so many ornaments and garlands and lights on that tree that we could have poked a dead branch in a pot to begin with and saved the $80 bucks. But the scent of fresh fir affirmed that underneath all the glitter and gold, there actually stood a live tree, and we all acclaimed that it was, in fact, a very nice tree.

After three days of decorating, wrapping, and baking, the weekend was too quickly coming to an end. Before Bro headed back to UVA, we were scheduled to have dinner with the grandparents, as Grandma Sarah was well aware of the necessity of refueling college students in the midst of exams.

And it was there, at that moment, in that kitchen, that I had an epiphany.

It occurred as I was dipping pita chips into a bowl of hummus. Grandma Sarah was hustling around the kitchen while we chatted and nibbled on the array of dips she had set on the table before us. Being a blend of Julia Child meets Paula Deen, she had prepared a spread of roast tenderloin, scalloped potatoes, butterbeans, fresh cranberry-orange relish, hot biscuits, and Bro’s personal favorite, strawberry-spinach-artichoke salad. While she attended to the last minute preparations, Bro was locked deep in conversation with his grandfather, arguing the finer points of the proper attire for a fraternity holiday party. As they chatted, Clark suddenly realized he was looking up at Bro and exclaimed, “Look at you! You’re taller than I am! I must be shrinking!”

And that was when it happened. Suddenly, clear as a bell, it hit me. As I looked at the smooth, fresh, youthful face of my son who now towered over his septuagenarian grandfather, I had my epiphany. I knew where wrinkles came from.

Clark’s revelation that he was shrinking was the catalyst for my sudden discovery, quite possibly the greatest scientific revelation of the millennium. I now knew what caused wrinkles. It’s compression. It has nothing to do with sagging skin or aging or loss of elasticity or the toxic effects of the sun. It’s all about gravity and compression. Think about it. The earth is a globe suspended in the universe, with millions of pounds of atmospheric pressure pushing us from above and gravity pulling us from beneath. After years of being pressed and pulled, we start to shrink. As we shrink, we round out and loose the fine edges of our youth, as if the Master Creator suddenly took an eraser and blurred the borders of our former self. This compression causes pouches and bulges to appear where previously there were none. I know this to be true, as I now boast a marsupial pouch where a flat tummy used to dwell and strange crevices are appearing on my forehead.

I, too, am in the beginning stages of compression. As I am compressed, cracks and lines are appearing as my skeletal body collapses under all that atmospheric pressure. My frame is finally conceding to the power of gravitational pull, and I will eventually shrink and round out until I am nothing more than a short, wrinkly pile of mushed flesh. There is not enough cream or serum or botox or surgery on earth that can arrest the effects of all that pressure. It’s inevitable, and it will progress until we finally gasp our last dying breath and deflate, our souls mercifully escaping our compressed earthly bodies and fleeing quickly into heaven.

It was my Christmas epiphany, a miraculous revelation: Compression causes us to shrink! As we shrink, we wrinkle. It’s as simple as that, which is actually a quite merry holiday thought. Since there is nothing we can do to reverse the power of atmospheric compression or gravitational pull, you needn’t worry about exercise or diet as you skip through the holidays. Go ahead and have that second glass of eggnog. Enjoy another slice of fruitcake. Sleep in and forget about the treadmill. The world will continue to spin and we will continue to compress. Can’t do a thing about it, so you might as well enjoy the ride and have a very Merry Christmas!

And that, my dear, is where wrinkles come from.

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