I have no illusions of my mortality, at least in the sense that I am VERY killable; I can clearly remember three different occasions when I was within three seconds of what I expected to be the final blackout. I am willing to entertain the possibility that I may yet find a way to beat entropy at a personal level, but that is an unrelated bit of lunacy.
I also have no illusions about the gargoyle who faces me in the mirror every morning; I realize that the world in general doesn't regard him with quite the same horror and disgust that I do, but I also know that he is decidedly NOT decorative. *I* react to him with horror and disgust, because deep in the pit of my stomach, I know what I am SUPPOSED to look like, and he is so very much not it.
The face that I honestly expect to see in the mirror hasn't seen the light of day since I was 23, back in the Jefferson administration. He was no better than moderately decorative, but he WAS healthy...
This comes up because lately I have become self conscious about my tendency to flirt, which is a problem. Obviously there are things that the idealized "self at 23", who had some definite social market value, can say acceptably that are simply scary or disgusting from the gargoyle who is actually present. And flirting isn't any fun if the recipient doesn't enjoy the comment (even if it is a bit embarrassing). The end result is that if the person with whom I am flirting sees only the gargoyle, and has no sense of the idealized self-that-was, the world will be better off if I just keep my mouth shut, and that would make me very sad.
I enjoy flirting; I think that it makes the world a better place. I really want to be able to throw compliments around at whim, be they hyperbolic or sincere. But if my words are greeted primarily by horror or disgust, it is time to keep my mouth shut.