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(“Ice optro phobia”).  Just off the top of your head, does anyone know what this is?  Well, I do, and I suffer from it.  Every day.  For 65 years now.

Eisoptrophobia is a fear of seeing one’s own reflection.  Now, take a good look at my picture, and you will understand my problem. Not just my visage, but my hair as well.  Everyone who has ever tried to style my hair has committed barbicide.

I think that when I was little, I must have performed the trick of standing in front of a mirror, turning the lights off, saying “Bloody Mary” three times, then switching the lights back on.  What transpired, what hell was wrought there, has been a lifelong terrifying encounter with mirrors; some reflective surfaces are worse than others.  To spare myself, I look the other way when passing by store windows.  I also hang crepe in front of the mirror in dressing rooms.  I don’t need any more stress than I already have.

When my husband – then my fiancée – introduced me to his best friend – I was in the hallway when I heard the best friend whisper shakily, “Why?” Now, it wasn’t “For God’s sake, why?” or “What were/are you thinking?” Or even “What the f-   are you thinking?” It could have been worse.  (I could tell you that on the day of our wedding, he actually sat out in his car with the motor running, his foot hovering over the gas pedal, as he contemplated life with me.)  Why?  Why indeed.  But I get castigated whenever I mention this little scene.  My husband, 33 years later, still defends his friend.

Eisoptrophobia – the body fears itself.  Well, with good reason.  I avoid mirrors like most people avoid the dark, or checking under the bed at night, or the dreadful black mamba.  And the situation has only become exacerbated with age.

I feel sorry for anyone trying to take a photograph of me.  It’s so sad; they try, they’ll say, “Let me take one more,” and after about three attempts, they forlornly give up, and they seem to blame themselves.  To spare them this humiliation, sometimes I demonstrate how clever I am and look away really fast, just as they’re taking the picture.  Oh, it’s blurry again!  Well, you tried!  Damn camera/phone!  Absolution all around then.  It is what it is.  I am old.  But there is an upside to looking this way.

In Hawai’i, where I live, there is the legend of the volcano goddess Pele.  The legend dictates that if an old woman with a little white dog approaches you and asks for food, you have to accommodate her or she will cause a volcano to spew its contents all over you and all over your entire community as well.  So I stopped coloring my hair and then, I bought a little white dog, just to mess with people.  I haven’t had to pay for a meal in five years!

But because of how I look, I mean, I guess this contributes to it – I am very jealous.  Two years ago, I contemplated assault.  I wanted to beat the tar out of this other woman whom I observed to be fancying my husband (he is 66 years old). I asked an acquaintance, who I figured had information on this subject, about the consequences of such a thing.

Now this is not legal advice.  This is just hearsay. She told me that there are four rules:  Don’t hit the person in the face, don’t get the person down on the ground (not a problem for me, because then I couldn’t get up), don’t hit with a weapon, and don’t choke her hard enough for her to pass out.  Things will go very badly for you if you choke someone hard enough for them to pass out.  Then she said, if you don’t have a prior (which I don’t, not yet), call HPD and tell them, I just beat somebody up.  After HPD picks you up, you can then get bailed out. And the first one is always free; that is, after you cop a plea and get placed on probation.  Gotta love Hawai’i.

I love the advertisements for Cialis.  These ads always feature a hot woman, but then the side effects are enumerated, including nausea and blurred vision (the first one is a given, the second, a plus for anyone who finds himself with me).  But I have news for anyone trying out Cialis – you’re not going to see any sexy “Alice” – who, by the way, is at least thirty years younger than you are.  You’re more likely to see Sally.  So think about it.  Think twice.  Think three times. Just for God’s sake, don’t turn the lights on!

Sally Stratso (USA)

Sally Stratso is a character actress, standup comedienne, and writer. Her work has appeared in Grit Magazine, Equus Magazine, Indie Slate, and Lemons Publications. She used to live in Honolulu, Hawai'i and has now relocated to Corpus Christi, Texas.

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