I could never go past a mirror without glancing in it. In fact, any reflective surface - shop windows, car windows, shiny fridge doors- Yes, it's me. It's still me.
I know it's always called vanity but I think for a lot of us it's more like the opposite. We don't think we look so good: we're just hoping somehow this time, at this angle, in this light, we won't look so bad. Even beautiful young things do it and most for the same reason. It doesn't matter how young or beautiful you are you will find something wrong. All those gorgeous teenagers scowling along a line of parked cars, checking themselves in the succession of car windows.
Or they used to. Now they're all talking or texting and they hold these iPods like young women used to hold compacts, looking in that little round mirror and touching up the face. Interesting! One thing these miracles of technology lack, apparently, is a mirror.
When you're young, of course, it's no good being reassured how nice you look. Perhaps that's why my grandmother never bothered. If I grumbled about my legs, she would announce that I was lucky to have two because some people only had one. She was one of the models for Aunt Charlotte in Orchid Territory but I missed out one of her classic lines. If anyone asked what time it was, she would answer, for example: "Two o clock! You be lucky you've lived so long. Some people die at one!"
Mr. Wilson had the same no nonsense approach. If I ever start a wellness center I will replicate Mr. Wilson's. He rented rooms in a small house on a beach in Jamaica, a stretch of beach with evidence of past hurricane damage -maybe that's why it was so nicely underdeveloped. We stayed there a few years ago and I remember it with much affection because at Mr Wilson's you just got out of bed in the morning and went down to the beach.
Mr Wilson did not have mirrors in his rooms. I think I remember one narrow oblong high up in the bathroom. Short, anxious females had to stand on tiptoe and still not see much below their ear lobes. He had no new shiny appliances either or cars parked outside and the beach shack where we got breakfast had no walls to hang a mirror on. It was worth any amount of massages and treatment with hot pebbles and aromatic candles. Nothing could beat not looking at yourself for a few days. It was a real holiday.