The you reflected in the window

August 20, 2007

It’s puzzling, sometimes, how stories can float around in the background for awhile before making any big splash in the news.

Just recently news anchors were mentioning – it never went much further than that – a Dutch study which revealed that women who have had breast implants were three times more likely than those women who had not had them to commit suicide.

Never mind that the results of the study were reported by the BBC in March of 2003. We probably didn’t hear about it in the U.S. because there was too much important breaking news going on, such as Britney’s absent bloomers and other ongoing scandals of the rich and vacuous.

The gist of the study was that the researchers looked at the records of about 3,500 women between the ages of 15 and 69 who had implants between 1965 and 1993

The researchers, from the University Medical Centre in Utrecht, looked at records of 3,521 Swedish women aged between 15 and 69 who had had breast implants between 1965 and 1993. The causes of death were analyzed and compared with the death rate in a similar group of women from the general population.

There were 15 suicides in the breast implant group compared with five expected in the other group.

In the U.S., once the story about the suicides did rise, somehow, to the point that it earned mention by the TV meat-puppets, the story was off and running.

Well, at any rate, the late night comics got hold of it and tossed out the usual flutter of tasteless jokes.

I don’t remember anybody wondering why despair should visit so many of those women. One of the researchers said that perhaps women about to have the surgery should be subject to more strict psychological screening.

Gee, really? I would suggest that anybody who volunteers to spend thousands of dollars to have somebody sew bags full of silicone gel into their body does, indeed, need to have their head examined. But that’s just me.

I’d like to offer a possibility, based on observation.

How often have you seen a middle-aged man hit one of those dreaded “zero” birthdays, 40, 50, 60, and the next thing you know he’s thundering around on a Harley, or in a Corvette, perhaps, God bless him, getting filigreed with tattoos.

Said codger is then seen hanging around bars, annoying younger women and generally making a spectacle of himself.

Where I live, there’s a big festival weekend held every year and attended by more than 10,000 Harley owners. It’s sort of a celebration of denial. Everybody, of course, is entitled to their own pursuit of happiness. At the same time, I have to say that guys my age do not look like Arnold Schwarzenegger when they dress in leathers, sleeveless shirts, and tats. Hell, neither does Arnold Schwarzenegger, not any more.

In my late teens and early twenties, I wanted to be a writer. I had a typewriter. I took to smoking a pipe. At a local used furniture shop I found a saggy old hound’s-tooth tweed sports jacket with leather patches at the elbows.

There are few things in this world that look as silly as a peach-faced youth dressed in a tweed jacket, a fuming pipe sticking out of his mouth. With the possible exception of old, fat men with tattoos, drying their armpits as the roar down the road on expensive motorcycles.

Anyway, I spent a lot of time looking thoughtful and polluting the air. I stayed up late at night, thumbing through reference books and reading other writers’ work.

I really looked like a writer, I thought.

Never mind that I didn’t actually write anything except for some pretty awful poetry. I was not really a writer. But I had the look nailed, baby.

We’re all about appearance, aren’t we? We look at those magical people, the ones we wish we were, or were like, and think, down deep, if I looked like that, drove one of those, bought one of those, wore that, I would be like them.

And so you get yourself an outfit, or a thing, from tattoo to Blackberry, hot car to hot babe to artificial these and those, implanted here and there.

And one day you catch a glimpse of yourself in a store window as you’re going by on your Harley, or in your tweed writer’s jacket, and your realize that it’s just you, that you’re no cooler or with it than you were before the tats or tweed.

If you’re lucky, you shake your head sheepishly and get rid of the trappings and go on and actually be who you are.

If you’re not lucky, well, maybe you become a statistic, a subject of a study somewhere.

© 2007 Marsh Creek Media,

Gettysburg, Pa.


3 Responses to “The you reflected in the window”

  1. Ann said

    I’ve only recently discovered your writing–and I could slap you on a biscuit and eat you up. Very smart stuff, with a chuckle on the side…I just love it!

  2. At last, Terry, glad you’re here with your sassy writings. But in my case, hold the biscuit! ;p


  3. Jessica Schally said

    Another one that made me think…you always make me think Terry! Thank you for sharing this with the world…I think all teenage girls should have to read this one…it’s hard sometimes to accept yourself…this really brings it home…

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