In the shower a few days ago, I discover a strange little patch of scratches on my chest near my right armpit. Since this is the year where everything seems to be going all to hell, I am simultaneously alarmed and resigned. Sure. Why not? I've had a quarter-sized patch of invisible itch near my left ankle bone for over a year; my lips are basically flaking off and regenerating on a daily basis with the aid of a steroid ointment; I have a more intimate relationship with my gynecologist than with anyone else; why would I not have a patch of unidentifiable scratches on my chest? Perhaps all my skin will be covered with scratches by August.
Despite my quasi certainty that it is another symptom of that most banal of maladies: "oh, you're just old now", I can't stop puzzling over it. I keep sliding my hand into my shirt collars to assess the condition. Is it worse? Is it better? It is definitely scratches, not a rash, but I can't account for it. There has been no passion. There has been no harrowing escape through brambles. God knows there have been no kittens, because I haven't encountered any and, in any case, I think kittens are terrifying and would avoid any I happened to meet [see: claws. see: teeth].
For days, I run exploratory fingers over scratches so fine that I cannot even see them. And I fret.
Then, yesterday, the proverbial lightbulb snapped on.. Sequins! Those sharp little suckers strike again. A week ago, I rented a dress so sparkly that when I stepped into my western-facing kitchen looking for a misplaced lipstick, I was instantly transformed into a golden human mirrorball. I stood in the doorway grinning and rotating my hips back and forth to send little showers of light across the cupboards. Hours later, I danced for a long time as though only a very few people were watching.
I am not being attacked in my sleep nor dying of a rare skin condition. I am paying the price of glamour. That is much more satisfactory.
Meanwhile, the fact that I have scratches only on the right definitely suggests something worrying about the way I dance, but I've decided it's best just not to think about it.