Recently I posted a picture of myself with no make up or photo shop tricks, and a fan from my movie days commented, “Wow! You look so different.”
Really? I look different than I did thirty-five years ago after teams (meaning multiple people in each) of hair and wardrobe and makeup and lighting and camera experts worked on me for hours to get that perfect shot?
Now, I don’t think he meant it meanly, but it gave me pause. Should I be insulted? No, because he’s absolutely right. Should I be amused? Oh yeah, because it feels much better (and is much smarter) than feeling hurt and indignant for denying the superior forces of gravity, time, and ‘nature’s changing course, untrimmed,’ as young Will would have put it in a sonnet.
Face it. Or should I say, Wrinkly face it. I look different and you will too.
Because it goes like this—and really quickly by the way.
You’re young, you’re naïve enough to get away with stupid mistakes, (live and learn, you shrug as you laugh off getting called out for pretending to be an expert on some shit that turns out to be some stranger’s dead wrong opinion you overheard in a coffee shop) you’re healthy, you’re gorgeous…
and then you aren’t.
Why stretch that excruciating transition out over thirty or forty years? Why torture yourself by denying the inevitable? Why beat yourself up at every one of those learning curves? All those middle aged ‘firsts’ that smack you upside the head because you were actually delusional enough to think you were going to be young and cool forever.
I’m talking about firsts like:
The first time you realize that cute guy or girl doesn’t just not notice you, they don’t even see you.
The first time you go to your doctor and instead of offering solutions, she just says, “These things happen as you age.”
The first time you get that AARP packet, (and it won’t be your last, those people are ruthless!)
The first time you realize you’d rather sit your ass down and watch kids play instead of challenging them to a race across the monkey bars. (Although I do still love a good playground!)
The first time you meet a twenty-year old who says you remind her of her grandmother. Her grandmother! And you realize you could easily be.
Take some advice from 56 year old who had a really good run in the young and stupid years, and who is now happier than any other time by a factor of at least 10.
Ready? Now focus because this is profound, I mean this is some seriously deep shit. Here it is.
When you get to about 40 say, “Fuck it. I’m old.”
Skip all that bemoaning and worrying, and suffering for the loss of your figure, hair, mind, sexual attraction, ability to blame your youth for your ignorance and/or bad behavior, and being able to read anything smaller than the top line of an eye chart in noon sunshine. And you get to enjoy all this while you gain weight, forgetfulness, jowls, and wrinkles that look like a compressed trail map of Yellowstone National Park complete with accurate topography. And let me tell you, if you’ve never hiked Yellowstone, there are thousands of criss-crossing trails, glacial ridges, mountains, valleys, and not a few geysers.
Brace yourself baby. Your ego is going to take a hit.
You used to eat spicy food, now you can’t. You used to drink all the tequila you wanted and bound out of bed the next day. (Can I get a white wine spritzer?) You used to be able to wear a bikini with pride, now it takes a certain amount of denial verging on belligerence, or at the very least a tankini.
Prescriptions take the place of most recreational drugs. (Notice the use of ‘most’ wink wink. CBDs rock for menopause and arthritis!)
For some unknown reason, you will need to blow your nose all the time. Sure, I had the same problem when I was 18 and 19, but when you snort a gram or two of cocaine every day that can happen. Now, the only white powder I use on a regular basis is Dr. Scholl’s moisture absorbent foot powder.
Dancing until two was an every night occurrence. I’m still up every night at 2 am, but now it’s to go pee.
You have to be on LSD to pretend you are still 29 and expect other people to buy into it. Your thought process there approaches the hallucinatory and the odds are strong that it will be a bad trip.
Let’s look at this from another angle. I’ve always been mystified why women lie and say they are younger than they are. The logic is lost on me. If you are, say, 50, and you lie and say you are 42, you risk people thinking, “Damn, she is not aging well at all!” The best you can hope for is someone complimenting your plastic surgeon. But if you are 50, but tell people you are 59, it’s far more likely someone will think and even say, “Wow! She looks fantastic!” Of course the unspoken finish to that comment is, ‘for her age.’ I mean, if what you’re worried about at my age is people notice that you’re aging—which translates, let’s be honest, to being vain—then you need to think this mo-fo through.
What are you grieving? Oh no, boo hoo, as you age you’ll loose the leering, sleazy admiration of jerks who think you exist solely for their sexual gratification. How ever will you survive the loss? “Alas I confront the gaping void! Such tragedy befalls me! Oh woe, calamity, the end of all I hold dear! Darkness descends, beauty fades and my worth is ended!”
Can we just take a moment of silence for your mental sanity, and your values?
Of course that’s what we get as a country for equating youth with beauty and beauty with happiness.
Talk about setting yourself up.
The moral of the story is; get the f’ over yourself. You are going to age, and as you do so you will begin to disappear more and more in the eyes of youth and a societal ethics you helped to create by valuing your own youth and beauty above things of actual importance. Will you panic and cling to the illusion that you can stop the clock? Or will you relax and enjoy the easy fall into shorter walks and birthday cakes that increasingly resemble burning man less the fun drugs and nudity? What is your option to aging? I’ll let you think about that for a minute.
Got it? Yes, the option is death. And whether you take the longer way or the express, your ticket disembarks at the same destination, so you might as well enjoy the ride.
You get to choose when you make your wish. Will you use that flame to set yourself on fire and end the shame of, dare I speak the word, unattractiveness? Or will you use the light of experience, of years, to be enlightened?
Is there an up side to living to be less physically attractive? What can we learn from all these bonus years on the planet?
Lots. You don’t have to impress anybody, and you learn to be fine with that.
You learn to say, “I don’t know,” and be fine with that.
You learn to be fine, in a completely different way.
You get to be who you are.
Finally, at long last,
You can be who you want to be.
Hello old friend!
Oh, it’s me.
Shari, August 19, 2017