You’re so vain

It never fails to amaze me what people are willing to endure in the name of vanity.
It’s macabre when you think about it: Folks voluntarily have their fat suctioned, their flesh nipped and tucked, implants installed, and their eyes and noses reshaped. It’s enough to give Dr. Frankenstein the willies.
And, it’s not like there’s any dearth of options for those who don’t care for plastic surgeons. The cosmetics counter (They’ve got them everywhere nowadays, even at farm machinery dealerships.) abounds with unguents and ointments that promise to enhance your natural good looks using the best synthetic industrial compounds known to man.
In the name of research, I conducted a foray into my wife’s makeup kit, which is about the size of a steamer trunk, and found a cover-up crème that lists among its many ingredients such things as triethanolamine and propylparaben.
Oh, yeah, that sounds real natural. I can recall saying to our sons back when they were grade schoolers, “Let’s go down to the creek and gather up some hydroxyethylcellulose! I’ve heard that you can make good money selling that stuff to the cosmetics industry.”
I don’t spend much time on my appearance, a fact that has long annoyed my wife.
“It wouldn’t hurt if you spiffed yourself up a little,” she’ll say, dropping one of her subtler hints.
“What’s the point?” I’ll reply. “The dog and our Jersey steers don’t mind how I look, and I don’t especially care either.”
“Well, at least do something about your nose. It’s starting to look like a wooly bear caterpillar.”
She knows how to hit where it hurts. I’ve noted lately, with more than a little alarm, that my nose has begun to sprout hair. Not in my nose, which happens to everyone, but on my nose. On the leading edge, if you will.
The obvious remedy would be to take a razor to my face, something I haven’t done for several decades. I trim my beard, mainly because I have zero musical abilities and would hate to be mistaken for ZZ Top. Plus, trimming my beard helps justify the cost of my fancy new weed whacker.
My fear is that if I start shaving my nose, I’ll accidentally lop off a big hunk of it. And how will I explain that? People will assume it’s a do-it-yourself rhinoplasty gone bad.
There are larger issues at stake here. For example, shouldn’t we be happy with the way God made us? After all, who are we to second guess the almighty? And how much should one have to suffer for the sake of one’s appearances?
These are the type of questions I’ve posed ever since I was a child. Not that voicing them ever helped me avoid that weekly torment known as the Saturday night bath.
Every Saturday evening after milking and chores were done, Mom would run some hot water into the bathtub. All eight of us kids would then take turns bathing in that water, with the addition of a little hot water between customers. My pleas to my parents that I’d been super fastidious during the previous seven days fell on deaf ears; I still had to take my turn.
As I soaked, I would think of all the resources that had been squandered on this bath and the unnaturalness of sitting in a tub of water in the wintertime. I shivered knowing that murderously cold temperatures lurked mere inches away on the other side of the wall. What if the wall were to suddenly collapse? Icy cold would come rushing in like a crazed defensive tackle pursuing a helpless quarterback. I would instantly become a frozen kidsicle.
Bad as all that was, it was a mere trifling compared to what my five sisters endured. When my bath was done so was my torment, but theirs had just begun. Because my sisters would roll their damp hair up in big, spiky curlers and then they would sleep on the darn things.
Sitting in church the next morning – wearing my little polyester suit, my hair plastered to my skull with Vaseline Hair Tonic (aka, super refined 30W motor oil) – I would ponder deep, philosophical questions. The main one was, “What’s the point of me getting all gussied up like this? After all, I’ll just revert to a close resemblance of Pigpen from the ‘Peanuts’ comic strip just as soon as we get back home to our farm.”
The passage of time has caused my youthful attitude regarding vanity and personal grooming to evolve especially after I discovered this fabulous product called Nair For Nose.
    Jerry is a recovering dairy farmer from Volga, South Dakota. He and his wife, Julie, have two grown sons and live on the farm where Jerry’s great-grandfather homesteaded over 110 years ago. Jerry works full time for Dairy Star as a staff writer and ad salesman. Feel free to email him at


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