It’s now that time of year where it’s gone overnight from slightly warm to holy-hell-I-think-I’m-sitting-on-the-face-of-the-sun, which is excellent news for the 1 percent of us who enjoy their upper arms and a natural disaster for the rest of us.
Listen, you Gwyneths in your sleeveless tunics or your spaghetti-strap sundresses or, the worst, your cap sleeves that turn my white noodles into the beginning of a balloon animal, all of you can go confidently hail a cab into the ocean. My former co-worker who looked forward to summer because she was “allergic to sleeves”? She can be your driver.
You’re ruining it for the rest of us with your cocoa-buttered, bronzed sculpted limbs that are the same size whether pressed against your body or unselfconsciously reaching for something from a high shelf.
You’re the kind of nightmares who could probably wear a short T-shirt, smooth your perfect hair and then put your arm down without worrying you just exposed a shocking white ripple of albino muffin top. You disgust me. I can barely go from seated to standing without having to readjust everything.
The appropriate reaction to mercury rising is dread and anxiety. The weather is not your friend, or if it is, it’s that friend that “accidentally” tells everyone your most unflattering secrets. In this case: flabby arms, thighs that stick together and a tendency to form beads of sweat on the upper lip. And frizz. Oh, and when I’m warm, my face flushes and turns red, especially my nose. Why couldn’t we be trending toward global cooling? I could get behind that.
I very nearly wore a tank top to therapy yesterday because it was so hot the part of my brain that regulates shirts was scrambled, and I figured if I’m going to do it, it should be in a room where at least the person gets paid at the end. But at the last minute, I couldn’t force the sight of my white, wobbly, freckle-and-mole covered monstrosities onto another person. Not even one I tell my darkest secrets to.
But there’s one more secret she doesn’t know: My upper arms also have a light dusting of… What do you think I’m going to say here? Let’s play a guessing game.
Is it powdered sugar? Glitter? Rainbows? Happy faces? Raised pink dots in varying degrees of irritation and maybe a little dried blood, as I like to pick at them when I’m bored because sometimes you can find and liberate an ingrown hair? Ding, ding, ding!
I’ve read a million articles in women’s magazines that purport to get your arms ready for summer in five easy steps. Which summer are we talking about? Nuclear summer? Camus’ invincible summer? Summer 2020? Or the one a few weeks away? If it’s that one, I just don’t think a few arm curls are going to do it. I need something faster. Can’t they just paint on some muscles and shade the rest? Where are we with arm-painting technology? You don’t hear enough about trompe l’arm.
And I hate that I’m wasting this much time thinking about my arms when I have so many more important things to think about, like my hair.
The other day I went clothes shopping with my mother because I was in a good mood and wanted it to dissipate.
“So let me ask you this,” I said, turning to her in a tank top, my upper arms undulating like a just-vacated waterbed. “If I were to wear this in public, would it be like, ‘There goes a fat person’? Or, ‘There goes a small person with fat arms’?”
She looked at me like she questioned whether I’d really been going to therapy.
I think this whole time — after weight loss and exercise and diet and growing up — I’ve been convinced there’s still something about my body, or something about me, really, that, if I were to expose it, would change the entire way I come across and possibly even jeopardize relationships and employment. And all the exhausting work I’ve done to be the person I am today would simply disappear, and I’d be standing there, awkward, fat, frizzy and scared, all because I exposed a flabby arm. Or thigh. Or sweat ‘stache. The thing is, the body part I’m convinced I have to hide — the physical portal to the past — keeps changing. Probably because it’s a feeling more than anything.
It’s for this reason I have no choice but to move to Antarctica. I realize I can’t outrun my arms or my past, but I’d just rather face them in a jacket.