Michael Wheaton




Everything is fine, and then I turn my head and spot my reflection walking in the windows and the people behind the reflection shopping in the aisles, so I look ahead and keep walking so I don't see my reflection because I don't want the people on the other side of the windows noticing I am looking at myself long, but then I look left again because I do want to look at myself long, and suddenly I don't see the people on the other side of the windows; there is my profile from the waist up, and even with clothes on the width of my body seems wider than in mirrors, and the shape of my small adult head seems even smaller—which rules out the idea that a warp in the window is making my body appear wider—and the wind coming at me and the momentum of my walking makes the thin strands of hair blow straight up. There is a lot of scalp, and I wonder if my hair does this often when it doesn't feel like it is doing this since it doesn't feel like it is doing this now. I run out of windows, and I hold the door open for people walking in and out so they see me better than I see myself in the mirror, which I know is only a window.




In the bedroom mirror I stand up straighter to see if the drooping flab at the bottom of my chest rises or flattens and looks more like a virile chest, and it must be hard to be a woman in a mirror (considering all the expectations commercials implant in their heads and men like me who grew up watching commercials implant in their heads) if I am a man in a mirror worrying about the size of my chest and the way the stretch marks on my stomach make my gut look flabbier than it feels when I press into it and continues to look flabby no matter how many times I press into it or do the yoga video or try swimming or bike or walk instead of driving down the street or hold plank poses and sweat on the carpet or do push-ups or eat the way I've been eating, which is healthy, or healthy compared to most people, though I could stand to drink less alcohol even though I am not an alcoholic but instead just enjoy alcohol in moderation (and occasionally without moderation) throughout the week, which helps me stay away from mirrors. Maybe I should do squats though because my legs are thin which doesn't help the appearance of my stomach, or maybe it's not my legs but the size of my hips which seem too narrow, or maybe it's that my frame is small when the rest of me is not.




I towel off the leftover shaving cream, and the neck nicked red, for the first time in a while I recognize the weight of the chin, and if a chin can grow, then why haven't these child-sized ears, which despite their size, have been producing long hairs without my noticing on a daily basis, a similar pattern to the inside of my nostrils, the outside of which are showing veins on the side, which may be the alcohol or may simply be increasing age. The phenomenon has skipped the greased head hair palmed to one side to fill in the gaps, but I am thankful at least that mirrors do not show the backs of our heads, which in pictures has an amount of hair that cannot be matted over or thickened with palm strokes (so I try not to look at the pictures) because I prefer what I see near-sightedly in the mirror, the eyes that, without their glasses, sink into their prune eyelids to the point that when someone does see me without glasses they ask me if I am okay or tired, and I say yes, tired, but I am lying—the parts of me I know exist but pretend, whenever I can, like the back of the head, are not there.