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Gravity? // grave, indeed

Do not, I repeat, do not install a full-length mirror in your bathroom. It could be hazardous to your mental health.

You ask me how I know? Well, we did it and that is when the gravity of the whole situation was made very clear to me.

For years I have been showering, drying, putting on an uplift girdle, snapping up an uplift bra and facing the long mirror on the back of my bedroom door only when I am all tucked into place, face as nearly perfect as is possible after the flush of youth has gone. A quick look to be sure the slip doesn't show and I'm on my way, convinced that for an old gal I'm not in too bad shape.

Then I saw this mirror, with its lovely frame, and I could imagine it to be just the touch my personal bath and dressing room needed. To see was to purchase, and it became mine.

Because of its fragility and beauty, I was able to convince friend husband it must be put up immediately, which he did. The next morning I received the shock of my life.

I stepped from the shower, reached for my towel and beheld this "thing" in my new mirror. "Good Lord," I thought, "when did this happen? Everything droops from my eyelids to my knees." Believe me, if awards were being given for getting everything under cover in record time, I would have won, hands down! I couldn't give that mirror another chance to catch me out.

Before I left the bedroom, I took a quick glance in the glass there, and found I seemed just as usual. But I knew otherwise. Maybe the surface was the same, but I now knew what was underneath. The gravity of the situation had come home at last. Remembering those words jogged my recall button, one not touched for more than 60 years.

As a child I had loved the sound of words and reading. I liked to impress my peers by using words they had never heard. I also had the bad habit of listening in on the conversations of my parents, or my older sister, on the off chance I might pick up some juicy tidbit. One day, just before the crash of the market in '29, I heard Mother and Dad discussing the state of the country and heard Mother say, "They don't understand the gravity of the situation."

The phrase intrigued me; I liked the sound of that word, "gravity." I plunged into their discussion with my question, "What does "gravity' mean?"

Now if Dad had been alone, he would have told me to go to the dictionary. But I guess part of my showoff comes from Mother, for she always answered with the definition. "It means a very serious condition," she told me.

Dad, not to be outdone, got into the act with, "It is also the magnetic force that holds us all on Earth and keeps everything from flying off into space."

Well, as you can imagine, Dad's definition impressed me much more than Mother's. And since I was horribly afraid of heights, I spent some anxious moments and some nights of wild dreams as I flew off into space with trees, houses and animals floating by as the water freed from the oceans and rivers made it a damp journey.

Finally the dreams faded, and I must have found a new word to tickle my fancy, for I had not thought of the incident until I stepped from my bath and beheld the definitions, both of them, reflected back at me in living color.

Certainly the gravitational pull was in full display from the droopy eyelids and double chin to the saggy quality of the flesh over my knees. What to do! What to do!

I considered my options. What about traction? If my head were pulled north and my heels south until all the in-between was taut, would that help? No, that resembled torture on the rack. That I couldn't face. Plastic surgery? Maybe. Then I remembered the TV anchorwoman who had her eyelids lifted and came back to stare into the camera with a glazed look as if she was afraid to blink, fearing her eyelids would come apart. And besides, the skin tone of earlier years was no longer, so it wouldn't last as long as I might. No, I had to come up with something very simple.

Something I could handle myself. A diet, that was it! So I resolved to go on a two-week, 1,000-calorie-per-day diet. Surely that would at least slow my downfall.

I didn't make it. At the end of five days I was snapping at the cat, arguing with my husband, unable to concentrate and ready to kill for a chocolate bar. I had hung my bathrobe over the offending mirror and sneaked a peek when the scales affirmed a loss of 3 pounds, but my reflection said, "Nothing is changed."

Right then and there I decided it was time to sit down and have a talk with myself. "Self," I said, "this is ridiculous. We have to make up my mind on a course of action. This all started when I had to have that miserable mirror." Self agreed.

"So, let's get rid of it. Let's put it in the garage sale and just be glad if we can palm it off on someone else."

I sold it to a young couple furnishing their first home. They were delighted. They can hang it in their bathroom, boudoir or living room, and it won't cause any trouble. They are in their early 20s, with beautiful figures, and it will be years before it tells them tales they would rather not hear.

As for me, I shower each morning, pull on my upright girdle, snap on my uplift bra, finish my toilette and stop before the bedroom mirror to be sure my slip doesn't show. Then I go on my way, and when some kind soul says, "You surely look lovely today," I just smile a knowing smile and say, "Thank you, indeed."

As for the gravity of the situation, it is all under control, and the magnetic gravity has pulled that molehill I was trying to make into a mountain back down so I won't trip on it.

Amy Wadsworth divides her time between Pinellas County and Hiawasee, Ga.