In my family it is a ritual, a must phase.
You can attempt to escape in a hundred ways, try a thousand strategies to put a remedy on it, but there is no chance of salvation. You have to play it off and put a good face on a bad game.
How many poor pre-teens girls have fallen into that trap? It is rumored that they are at least a dozen among the people I know, although no more than four are verifiable, which are my sisters, and absolute certainty at least one fell… myself.
It all begins on a sunny spring day, windows wide open, the scent of geraniums in bloom that floods the house, sunlight brightening the rooms, a fine powder flying in the air and that is only visible when it is struck by the rays of sun, a large mirror in my parents’ room, and me crossing the room. I turn to the mirror, like a thousand times before, and suddenly there it is: enormous, red, about to explode!
Terror turns on my eyes but wonder turns it off immediately: what is that?!
As an elf in a fairytale mom shows up behind me, watching me through the mirror with a sly smile. I look at her in the eye. She knows what is happenng, I can see it in her face.
With a lot of peace of mind, and with a smile that seems more like a joke , she says: ” It ‘s a pimple ! It means that you’re getting older … “.
It seems to me more than a pimple, but a Siamese sister who tries to break away from me, for such a massive thing it is.
I already see myself covered with disgusting warts all over my face. What will I become? How do I leave the house with this thing which has decided to show himself off badly on my chin? And, last but not least among my problems: who will take me, so much brought down?
Disheartened and a bit in disgust, I keep desperately staring at my reflection in the vain hope that the Thing vanishes. Gradually the room is filled with other women, other faces that look at me through the mirror, faces that I know look at me with an unexpected sweetness and satisfaction. As if their eyes told me: “See … ? It has happened to me, right ? Now you are up to it. ” How sweet, my sisters are!
Mom hugs me and says ” Do not worry . Once you get married, they disappear. Just find a husband and they will go away . ” And she kisses me on the forehead after pronouncing this pearl of ancient wisdom, which has been handed down from generation to generation in my family. Only several years later will I be able to understand that, for my mother, a husband is the panacea for a bunch of unknown diseases: from the broken arm to hallux valgus, from liver stones to psoriasis. However, it was too late, I had already fallen into the trap!
This way, at the age of thirteen, I had begun the exhausting search of my “Topexan Man.” But please do not believe that this venture was this easy: it is not that finding a man makes pimples vanish. Oh no, that would have been too easy. The message is clear, precise, and unassailable: you must find a husband.
Hence I dive into the human tide, sniffing the air like a dog, in desperate search for biocompatible male pheromone. The first knowledge that I acquire in this senseless research is that teenagers of the eighties are mainly divided into two categories: those who drown pheromone in hectoliters of perfume (The perception of Drakkar Noir as I walk down the street triggers the hunting instinct in me), and those that stifle it with noxious fumes because they have not yet understood well what soap is.
Alas, at that time I certainly did not comply with the typical fashion canon of women’s beauty. Not because I was not cute and friendly. Except that nobody cared if a person was cute and friendly : it was not essential. What mattered was how you dressed.
You had to choose which category you would like to belong: there were Paninari who wore strictly designer’s clothes, Metalheads who wore studs and metal rings on every possible handhold of their clothes, the Dark who wore make-up and dressed only in black. And then there was me.
I still wonder how, despite being outside of any outlined social context, I could , occasionally, have some “boyfriends”.
It took long, however, to find a solution to my problem. Sure, it was quite unlikely to find a husband at the age of fifteen, but neither did I lose my hope. My primary goal was to get married by the age of eighteen.
But I became of age in a flash . As well as twenty-five , in full nineties. The teenagers were now young men. It was no longer fashionable to wear trendy clothes, but it had become imperative to be physically beautiful and career ambition was the only goal … and I was still unmarried.
A little disappointed by the failure of more than ten years of research, I decided that it was time to adapt to the times. I dove fully in my work and devoted myself to building my career. I forgot my so deeply obsessed research for the ideal husband that I stopped worrying about poking pimples on my face. Sure, it’s not that they, feeling neglected, had decided to move elsewhere. But no: undeterred , they continued to remain in this strange building at a fair rent regime.
Blindly believing that the job would make me happy and free, it took me a long time to incorporate the messages that my body , in spite of my carelessness, was sending me at all times. I put on twenty kilos of weight (no, it was not a hysterical pregnancy) and I basked for several years in an endless series of panic attacks.
What happened to me? Why was I so sad and unhappy? I could afford to buy everything I wanted. I felt like a rich woman . So, what was wrong? Why did I feel so bad?
I found myself fantasizing about walking back into the rooms at my parents’ house. Wide opened windows, the scent of blooming geraniums that filled the house, sunlight illuminating the rooms, the fine and bright dust, a large mirror and myself in front of it.
Looking at myself straight in the eye, fully understanding the woman who looks at me straight from the smooth and merciless surface.
Finally I understand myself and hear my voice saying, ” Do not worry, everything changes when you get married . ”
That was it ! I had forgotten my goal, what I had been subconsciously programmed at the age of thirteen. Heaven! A husband ! To hell with my career! I needed a husband not to suffer anymore!
I restarted my hunt . I was past thirty, and everything had become more difficult . Almost all the men were already someone else ‘s husband, or ex-husband of someone else and did not ever think of falling back into the trap.
I drew my best weapons: joy , intelligence, understanding, boldness and two huge boobs. I did not want to forget any man from the list: friends, colleagues, the guy at the bar where I had breakfast , Internet users, clients of the firm where I worked … No one was excluded: My husband must necessarily exist on earth!
I vivisectioned every man who fell into my highly transparent network . Everyone could immediately understand the limits and weaknesses of that pressure. I knew exactly what to say to make a man find me interesting and extraordinary. I almost had a fixed repertoire to display: the right dress, the right word, the right scent, the right look, the right paranoia to be consoled – a perfect woman , a perfect wife .
I began to have more admirers than I could handle. Each of them spoke words of admiration, sometimes even words of love. I was amazed and overwhelmed. Suddenly I was transformed into the ideal woman for all of them. With each one I could be the woman that they wanted. No matter what kind of woman they wanted , I could play her.
Yes, in my reborn obsession for a husband I had come to pretend to be someone other than who I was. In fact, many people other than who I was. Once again had I forgotten myself. Once again I was lost along the way .
I found myself again in front of that mirror, wondering what I really wanted, and how much of myself I would agree to lose in order to get it . The answer came so sudden and strong that I was surprised: I wanted to be myself, I wanted to live for myself and with myself. If ever a man had wished to share the journey of my life, he would have to take me for what I was: me.
At what point of my life am I? Well … let’s say that I am now thirty-six, which means a spinster … and I still have acne .
Translation by Ilaria Rossi