February 21, 2011

Groupon, groupoff: so much for that eyelash perm

In this day and age, well past the dawning of Web 2.0 and nearly, I suspect, near its sunset, many, many entities want to sign me up to spend more money. Their premise? Since we have such a large buying group, it's a bargain.

Oh, really?

Explain to me, please, why on earth I would purchase a Japanese eyelash perm, at any price, for any reason. I understand the Japanese are known for straight hair. I get it: I sent hair straightener for black woman to Dona, the year she lived in Japan. Not a lot of African-American or Caribbean-American women in Tokyo circa 1985, before the multi-culti globalization of our little world.

If Japanese women were curling their eyelashes, they probably did it the old-fashioned way: with the type of metal eyelash crimper last seen by me circa 1970, when my bunk counselor -- at an all-girls' camp -- persisted in doing full makeup every morning.

In retrospect, who was the counselor primping for? Not the other female counselors, not circa 1970, when bras were flung with abandon, underarm hair and unshaven legs were a political statement, and the word "femme" had yet to come into popular usage. (Even now, it's only used in certain circles, and I'm not quite sure I understand the complete definition, or if it varies, city by city, urban by rural.) I'll never know, except to chalk it up to pre-feminist cultural conditioning.

But I digress: before chemo, I might not have realized that the everything-must-go sale my hair follicles staged was complete, and I would not have grasped the full extent of the loss-of-hair. It never would have occurred to me that my eye lashes were lacking.

(Yea, you -- tell me my hair will grow back and I will ask you if you've ever seen your pubic hair on a wad of toilet paper.) It does grow -- but not back -- it grows in textures and levels of curliness not found on any head of mine I ever brushed. My eyelashes hold mascara now just as well as years ago.

When my hair, now 3 inches in length, started its regrowth, it was not the hair I had cut off in the ponytail to donate to other women with cancer. That hair was thick, and long. I don't recognize myself as the woman in the mirror with short, curly, hair. She looks too old to be me.

That may be the woman I have become, but I've yet to adapt to her, the one with a scar down her chest where the surgeon opened her sternum, and the one whose other incision, now healing, came from inserting and removing the quarter-size port under her skin, at a level just above where my cleavage, such as it remains, happens to be. That, and having been a Superfund site for several months. Do the poisons ever leave?

Here is where I step sharply on "groupoff." I missed the day when my email bargain-getter sent trampoline lessons on sale. Groupon? Middle-aged women in circus school? In Brooklyn, on a street name I recognize from my childhood in the 'burbs, but not directly over the East River? Not part of any group that I can imagine, not without an ambulance and an orthopedist nearby.

If you're of an age to try the tramp or flying on wires, perhaps you have not reached the age where you understand the repercussions of signing a waiver of responsibility. Or, no one has texted the legality (or lack) of the form to you. Or you are one of the various lemmings comprising the group for which these "bargains" are targeted.

In high school, I loved the tramp (not the dirty little man outside the gym). But not now, in what I assume to be the midpoint of my life. No sane person wants me, veering on osteoporosis, to hop up on that tramp to jump and fly. My bones might not make it through intact, for one reason; another, bigger question: could I ever feel as free jumping now as I did at 14, when fear was not a part of my physical makeup? I'm guessing, not so much.

"Freedom's just another word for, nothing left to lose," or so sang Janis Joplin, at the ripe old age of 25 or so. Apparently it look me longer to lose my water-wings and training wheels. Twice as long, to be precise.

Having stepped over the medical threshold into the land of illness, of temporary disability, some of my fears have grown, but others? Not so much. Sure, there's the State Department. I hear it has issued a warning on travel to Mexico.

I'm sure there was one on Haiti, at least part of the time I was there. It didn't occur to me to be afraid. And Mexico? Border drug trafficking is not happening 1000 miles from the California state line. Where I stay in Baja, the only drugs on special are Viagra, anti-depressants, and Retin A. Each is freely available in pharmacies. I'm not even fearful of germs -- 20 years of visiting Haiti, and I know what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. (Cf. Superfund site).

My friends confuse the border with Cabos, 1000 miles down the peninsula. In timeshare-ville, guards blend in with the scenery, but I know they are there, just as I knew the staff paced the grounds in the Haitian beach where I went from girl child to grown woman.

Americans, except in war zones and potential political hotbeds (find me a dictator the U.S. didn't fly out of his country in the past 25 years, and I'll show you a dead man), didn't used to need private security protection. Now that we've globalized, U.S. citizens are easy targets.

Especially targeted are those those who give rise to the ugly American stereotype, one I've discovered is not without those secured to it, the ones who don't give a damn that, hey, no one speaks English here and speaking louder is not going to change that.

Volume is not the key to language comprehension, much to the chagrin of many. (Take that, groupon, and go global.) Hand signals are much more effective. In moments of desperation, you will get your point across -- perhaps not in a grammatical sentence, but in the way you most need at that very second.

Or so I continue to trust, as my attempts to learn Spanish (where is that group discount when you need it?) regress, and fluent French dating back 30+ years spews forth in in its place.

Why such an emphasis on group discounts in the cyber age? Because no one would ever leave the keyboard, the cell phone, the "smart" phone, or the PDA? Makes me think the Internet is not where we find each other; it's where our connections fray, and, if you're not careful, lose all meaning.

Groupon? Is this for 21st century groupies? If you're offering discounts, perhaps you or your oh-so-clever computer, could devise a few not designed to add to a woman's insecurities. Don't try to make me think my eyelashes are doomed, the way the teeth-whitening crowd has tried to convince me to add that task to daily maintenance. It's not working.

If that's groupon, stop the world -- I want to groupoff.

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