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Late bloomer:aging on a Soapbox

Over the years, I have gotten on many soapboxes: public education, gun violence, Mello Roos taxes, the state of book publishing, corrupt government, climate change. All of which are in keeping with Wikipedia's definition of a soapbox: a raised platform on which one stands to make an impromptu speech, often about a political subject. However, in my world, there isn't a person who knows me who can deny that I've climbed on that raised platform about more than political subjects.

For example, I went on for days about the stupidity and the un-sexy look of a young man I saw crossing a street walking with his legs spread to keep his beltless, oversized, baggy pants from falling to the ground. Until this day, when I see a young man's underwear above the waistline of his pants, I stand on that soapbox.

I also have a problem with tardiness. I blame my mama for this one. She insisted that being on time was a sure way to falsify the steerotype that black folk have no respect for other people's time. She explained that during slavery, blacks were not taught to tell time, and have been ostracised for it ever since.

"Be on time," Mama would scold, "or mind your manners and let people know you runnin' late."

Hence the birth of a pet peeve that can put me on a soapbox with the tick of a clock.

Another soapbox of mine is gum chewing. I can't stand to see a woman chew gum. I blame this phobia on my grandmother who believed that chewing gum made young ladies look gangster. What can I say? You hear this incredible stuff often enough, whether it makes sense or not, it settles into your psyche.

Here's one I came with: makeup ruins black skin. I drew this conclusion when at the age of 13, my skin broke out the first time I tried to wear face powder. I declared that since makeup was not made with women of color in mind, using it caused my skin to itch, turn red, and my eyes to swell. But when I reflect honestly on the events of that day, I am forced to acknowledge another more logical reason for the breakout. That is, I am allergic to seafood, including shrimp and crawfish. That day, when I was 13, I'd gone to a crawfish boil. In all fairness, it could've been my crawfish allergy that broke my skin out.

No matter, because I never wore makeup after that day. Nor did I use cleansers and moisturizers, except NOXEMA. And since I never developed the crepe-paper skin that many of my peers complain about, nor do I have the wrinkles many in my generation earn, I've concluded that not wearing makeup is proof that women don't need creams and ointments to keep their youthful look. Only soap, water and NOXEMA.

Luckly for me, my granddaughters, whose skin colors range from Caucasian white to cafe' au lait, to cocoa brown, have shown me a way to get off this soapbox. They all ignored my antiquated ideas about makeup, and wear makeup. Proving that even if makeup wasn't available for skin like mine when I was a girl, for my beautiful granddaughtrs, that is not the case today.

I've long professed that a person should always be in self-learning mode. In fact, one of my favorite sayings is that when I stop learning about myself, is the day I die. A likely philosophy for a late bloomer, don't you think? Even so, it took everything in me to walk into Ulta Beauty Store and admit to the Asian makeup artist on duty that I needed to hide what I'd come to learn from my physician, were aging spots. Spots that I could not wash away with NOXEMA. Spots that even good genes could not prevent. Spots that according to my makeup-wearing granddaughters, can be concealed.

Since turning seventy, I have had to restart my writing career, establish myself in a new community, confront my technology phobia, and now, learn to "conceal" my age spots, demonstrating to me once again that even though time has changed things, my body (inside and out), my life's priorities, my soapboxes, it's never too late to evolve and bloom.

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