My Troublesome Elbows


I don’t know if it was because I played outside a lot or because I practiced poor hygiene, but my elbows were a constant bone of contention between me and my mom when I was little.  Every few weeks she would use a hand mirror to prove to me that my elbows — apparently saturated with dirt and oil — were 11 shades darker than the rest of my skin.  Then she would prepare a bucket of hot, soapy water, and whilst holding me down with one hand, she would scrub my elbows (using one of those plastic-bristled, wedge-shaped scrub brushes with the handle on top) with the other.

I would squirm and howl as she scrubbed, then escape to my tomboy lifestyle as soon as she loosed her grip.  Our pattern continued until I was well into my teens, when she finally convinced me that a healthy daily application of lotion to my elbows would save me from continued scrubbings.  Using gross amounts of lotion, I kept my elbows in good shape for a period of a few years (the physical prime of my life?), just long enough for me to meet, woo, and marry my Beau.

We’ve been married almost 13 years now, and the other day it hit me:  I’ve let my elbows go again.  It’s just that I don’t have much time to shower these days, much less stand around after a shower massaging my elbows with lotion.  Then, a few months ago, I felt of my elbows and realized that they were unkempt once again, after all these years… not exactly dirty, not exactly scaly, but not exactly nice either.  They are not husband-getting elbows anymore.  I can only hope that, because of our mature realization as a couple that perfection is unattainable anyhow, they’re good enough to keep him for a few more years.

I think the truth of the matter is that I, here at 34 and still a tomboy at heart, am developing Mom Arms as part of the masterfully cruel joke told by Time which for a few years there I thought I would outsmart.  You know, Mom Arms.  They’re not as youthful as they once were.  They’re starting to jiggle in unfortunate places.  The skin on my arms isn’t as taut as it once was.  It’s dark, spotted with age and evidence of sun damage, and lined with microscopic wrinkles.  My arms these days are… troublesome, for lack of better words.  My elbows and I, we had a few good years together.  They gave me enough time in which to snag a man.  And now that he’s stuck with me, they’re showing themselves for what they’ve always been:  problematic.

I could ask Mom to scrub my elbows for me again, but I’m afraid that a sound scrubbing wouldn’t solve the problem anymore.  This is age.  This is irreversible.  I should’ve known that these troublesome elbows of mine would be the first parts of my body to betray me.

© Tami Blake

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