One of the best things about Steel Magnolias is every other line is quotable. Lately, I’ve been dwelling on this line, delivered by sweetly sassy Truvy:
Honey, time marches on and eventually you realize it is marchin’ across your face.
Last night, I was staring at myself in the mirror. I have a deep line next to my left eyebrow that betrays inherent skeptimism and questioning nature. I must be skeptical and confused a lot because when time stomps across my face, it trips a little before making a recovery. Time looks around sheepishly to see if anyone noticed. Time should have been paying attention, but Time was texting Memory the grocery list. Again.
Not only am I perma-skeptical, I’m rapidly greying. I’ve had strands of white-grey since age 16. My mom found them, squealing and cackling like she found a diamond ring in a Happy Meal. I didn’t believe her, so she yanked them out to show me. There were four. It was kind of mean, but now as a mom I think she was so gobsmacked at finding grey hair on her child that her brain went a bit haywire. What greater evidence of your own advancing age is there than evidence of the advancing age of someone you used to wipe multiple times a day?
I’m reminded of that when I look at one of my son’s faces. He has a thin strangely-black mustache I mistook as dirt the first time I saw it. Luckily, it seems to fall out on its own and regrow. The little hairs haven’t found their anchors yet, but when they do it will be time for razors and shaving creams that smell manly. The first time I hug him after his first real shave, I might go a bit haywire, too.
Time—as we understand it—is always in motion, always creating waves of change, growth, catalyzing decay. While Time marches across our faces, it goes off-roading into our hair, turning it white, thickening, and sometimes harvesting in the case of men.
I rake my splayed hands through my hair. Strands drape between fingers and around my palms. I shake them off into the trash and my skeptimistic forehead wrinkle deepens. Sometimes, I look at lost hair and think about the math God is constantly spinning out to us. I remember my mom hunched over the bathtub in my childhood home, washing my hair with apricot-scented shampoo. She told me God knows how many hairs are on my head. I wondered why He would care about that. But it would be cool to know, if He were around to ask. Real quick, God, how many hairs are on my head?
He wouldn’t have to stop to think. He could just tell me and also tell me what happened to the dinosaurs. What did Time do to them? How many stars are in the sky? How many ladybugs in forests? How many bubbles have there been? How many angels? How many chocolate chips? How many demons? When is Jesus coming back? How many feathers? Did Adam and Eve have belly buttons? How did Noah?
Why do horrific things happen to good people? What was the last miracle you did? Oh, this. Right here, right now?
Maybe, if that had happened, my forehead line wouldn’t be so deep.