My children are NUTS. They are obsessed with my triceps, or actually the jiggly skin on the back of my upper arm where my triceps should be. They’re teenagers, for heaven’s sake! It’s been YEARS since they used me as a jungle gym, life preserver, or nerf gun target–often simultaneously. Yet there they are. Pouncing on me and playing with that probably No. 1 most hated body part of all women over 40: the back of the arm. I say most hated because well…what can you DO about it? Nothing, that’s what. No matter how fit you are those arms are gonna jiggle. I don’t care how close you are to your college graduation weight; at this stage, it’s not the amount of avoirdupois that matters, but the speed with which it is traveling southward.
This geographical redistribution is luckily still most often covered up by clothing. Except for your neck. Nora Ephron has already covered necks, so I will shut up about them, mostly, because I am only semi-obsessed with necks, which is defined as: mentally compiling a list of actresses who are, like fifteen years older than me, and are, in fact, showing the effects of gravity, but for some bizarre reason have swanlike necks.
I see this with unforgiving clarity because we now have a home theater in the Basement Formerly Known as the Rumpus Room, which Himself installed so he could watch Manchester United play live and large as life at, like, 4 am on the West Coast on a Saturday morning. This big-screen thing has been just a total eye-opener for me.
I have been known to JUMP up in the middle of a movie, FLING my arm out dramatically like an insanely invested computer geek doing a presentation to senior execs, THRUST my finger into the rubbery fabric of the screen, and screech, “Look at that neck! That woman is (fill-in-the-blank) years older than me! How does she DO that?”
I do this almost, but not quite, often enough to be annoying. At least not yet. And that is the limit of my obsession with necks.
But as for arms, who the heck cares? Unless you live in, like, Tahiti, or anywhere below, say, the 32nd parallel, where you are not likely to be swathed in a Burberry trench coat ten months of the year. But I do NOT live in Tahiti. Ergo I am not worried. But now my kids are making me feel self-conscious.
Miss O. breezes home from school. She tosses the car keys on the counter, drops her backpack on the floor, and then starts kneading my arms. “How are those fly-ceps today?” She gives them a shake, like she’s testing jello, and then coos, in the tone we usually reserve for addressing infants: “Ooh…so sweeet! So soft! Made from love.” I’m telling you. Sassy.
Sparkles troops in behind her. She drops her backpack on the floor, squeals, “Oh, are we playing with mom’s arms again?”, and grabs a chunk of upper arm between thumb and forefinger. “Mom,” she sighs, “this is so soft it could be a neck pillow for a small child!” Then she starts burbling, “Chicken giggle! Chicken giggle!” in a tone only a mother could love.
“I’ll chicken giggle you,” I say, ostentatiously crossing a line through CHOCOLATE on the grocery list in front of me I have been trying to write, which now more closely resembles the print-out from a seismograph.
But such indignant threats are meaningless to children who have their own car keys and can run out at 9 pm to buy their own candybars at Tar-get (French pronunciation please). So they persist just long enough to make it clear they are NOT cooperating with me. Then they abandon me for the refrigerator, grabbing the side-by-side handles and swinging them open simultaneously, thereupon to stand gaping into its maw with identical blank stares.
N.b. I class the tricep thing as an obsession because as you may have noticed, they are doing this BEFORE they open the refrigerator door.
There’s not a whole heck of a lot I can do about the situation except wait it out. Kids do get these little fixations, you know, and then drop them, like for example when you buy a new healthy snack at Bossco for them to try, like crunchy rice rollups or something, and they scarf it down SO fast all you glimpse is the emptied bag spinning around and then hitting the pantry floor with a rattling sound kind of like Rango collapsing on the main street of Dirt; so then you get real excited because it was lo-carb and gluten-free and conscience-clear and you buy a bunch more–and they don’t TOUCH them. They ROT.
Or, like all they want and all they wear is Blueberry Splash nail polish and then you’re at Target and see it’s on sale so you buy four more bottles and proudly deposit the bag on Sparkles’ desk where she’s squinting at Honors Chemistry gobbledygook (to mom) on her iPad and she looks up at you and says flatly: “I don’t wear that anymore.” Right afterwards, of course, grabbing your upper arm and bleating Wait Mom don’t go away I can’t DO this homework I need my stress ball!
So I guess I just need to wait out this little fad. Based on past experience, it should soon go the way of all flesh.