"Turkey neck, jowls, no matter how you try not to, you get them."
 (Photo/PublicDomainPictures.net CC0)
"Turkey neck, jowls, no matter how you try not to, you get them." (Photo/PublicDomainPictures.net CC0)

So what’s the big deal?

Turkey neck, jowls, no matter how you try not to, you get them. My grandmother had double jowls. I have them too. Most of the time I wear this huge silver Tibetan choker. Sometimes I wrap my throat twice with a scarf but then it always gets knotted up. In the winter I wear high turtleneck sweaters past my chin but then I talk like I have marbles in my mouth.

From the front I don’t look too bad, but from the side, under my chin my jowls hang like a purse. I don’t want cosmetic surgery. It’s enough I’ve survived uterine cancer, glaucoma, diverticulitis, pneumonia, and other stuff. I’ve had it with the hospital this year — bells going off every time I move, the daughters nagging about whether I made the life insurance payment!

Manipulating age gives this odd effect, alien like. Myrtle Bernstein had her jowls removed and the surgeon took so much out that she has no neck and her head wobbles like corn on a stick.

What’s the big deal? What is this obsession with age? Why can’t we just enjoy life? Why do we have to monitor every wrinkle, every sniffle? My cardiologist gave me this gizmo thing on the back of my smartphone: All I do is touch the silver bars and wham, my EKG and blood pressure records. Do I have to know every breath I take? Every heartbeat?

Can’t a person just be? Enjoy a walk, watch a movie, paint a watercolor? And what’s the big deal about jowls?

I’m off the medications. But at the daughters’ insistence I have a Life Alert bracelet. I rolled on it in my sleep and in the middle of the night these egghead medics break into my apartment, pumping my chest and lifting my legs as I yell “Rape! Rape!” I explain to them that I’m fine and in my sleep pressed something and the alarm went off accidentally. They shout that they’re busy people and if this happens again I should be booked under Section 5150 as a danger to myself.

It was awful. Humiliating. The entire building is in the hallway in their robes, staring. I call my daughter who yells that maybe I’m getting dementia. I throw the damn Life Alert down the toilet.

Today I’m at the pharmacy. A huge line of people waits impatiently for their flu shots. Everyone is on their cellphones and I eavesdrop. Behind me is this silver fox. He’s tall, lanky, about 70 with a puffy head of silver hair. This guy is hot city. Not the nebbie type with floppy Bermuda shorts and white socks and a perpetual frown.

“Are you here for your flu shot?” I ask.

He nods. We shoot the breeze about global warming and that we better enjoy the planet while we can. He, too, is a native San Franciscan.

“Wow, I never meet natives.”

“Lowell [High],” he says with a prideful shrug.

“Me too.”

“What year?“ he asks.


OK, he’s 10 years younger. He’s cool. This dude has a butterfly tattoo on his arm and is fit as a teenager. Turns out he’s a fireman.

“I love to wave at fire trucks,” I say eagerly.

He smiles, revealing even nice teeth. “My Jewish parents wanted me to be a dentist. I always wanted to be a fireman.”

Bingo! Jewish too!

“I like your red high heels! Bomber jacket. Good for you!”

“You mean good that I’m old and wear heels. I also love Snoop Dog. Do you?”

“Love Snoop and Billie Holiday.” He laughs.

So I’m flirting like a mother, tossing the wave in my hair, letting him know that I’m “single.” Just then the pharmacist through this mini-megaphone calls not only my name but that my colonoscopy preparation is ready. I step up to the counter, and the pharmacist explains to drink it all and not to leave “one speck of feces.” After I pay I rush away, mortified that the fireman now heard I wasn’t getting a flu shot.

Carrying my paper bag with the prescription stapled to the outside, I meander along the aisle, looking at lipsticks, damning myself for caring what anyone thinks.

The fireman taps me on the shoulder. He has deep-set blue eyes.

He’s holding the same brown bag. We laugh.

“Last year I got the super-duper senior shot and I got double pneumonia,” I say. “So this year I might as well go for the colonoscopy.”

“Want to ride a fire truck? Then get a bite? We can’t eat after midnight anyway.”

Barbara Rose Brooker
Barbara Rose Brooker

Barbara Rose Brooker is a native San Francisco author. CW is making a pilot for a TV series based on her book "The Viagra Diaries." Barbararosebrooker.com.