The aging process is like a bad Halloween shadow. It creeps up on you from behind when you’re least expecting it, taps you on the shoulder to let you know it’s there, and then stays with you… like bursitis. Personally, I don’t like to think of myself as aging. Cheese ages, then turns moldy. That’s a visual that I find particularly unattractive, so I really don’t like to think of myself in those terms, and who would? I prefer to think that I’m “maturing.” It sounds better, and makes it seem like there’s still considerable time left before the actual “aging” part sets in.
Most women realize they’re “maturing” when they become a “Mam” instead of a “Miss.” I don’t let a little thing like that bother me. After I disengage the head lock and release the choke hold on the person speaking such dribble, it’s amazing how an attitude can change. No… the first time I actually felt the tap on my shoulder was when I overheard the teenager next door discussing me in less than favorable terms with some of his peers. I had a difficult time with that, because it seems only a short while ago I was considered “cute” by someone his age. When did I suddenly become the age of his mother…er…grandmother? Of course, I’m still told I’m cute, but now it means something different. “You look so cute in that scarf.” Translation: “Look at you, trying to look younger in that brightly colored scarf, probably trying to cover your crepey neck.” How dare that person think that and how did he or she KNOW?
It really hit home when I was walking down the street the other day, feeling good, feeling youngish and — dare I say it? Yes, feeling rather spirited. I happened to glance into the mirrored front of the building I was passing, and wondered who the older, slightly overweight woman was busily peering back at me. If it weren’t for the fact that I was taught to respect my elders, I would have yelled at her to stop staring. It took me a full minute to realize it was my own reflection. I immediately sucked in my stomach, threw back my shoulders and pushed out my jaw. To my dismay, upon taking a second look in the world’s largest mirror, I found myself looking at an older, slightly overweight woman with great posture and what appeared to be a stiff neck.
I want to know who on earth invented mirrored buildings, and what possible reasoning could they have used? You can bet it must have been some young 20-something with thick shiny hair, a perfectly toned body, and no wrinkles; someone who isn’t bothered at all by the sight of his or her reflection appearing endlessly, block after block, on busy streets. And have you noticed that there always seems to be a bus stop right in front of one of these buildings? What’s that all about? As if a four block long mirror weren’t bad enough, now you’re expected to sit in front of it in bad weather, bedraggled, your double chin shiny with sweat, your hair wet and stringy, and on hot days your sticky clothes hugging every pound. I’ve been told these buildings are considered aesthetically pleasing. I don’t know about you, but I have an affinity for concrete; it’s durable, and better yet, it’s solid and offers no reflection. If folks want aesthetics, paint comes in a variety of colors, and adheres to concrete quite nicely.
But at least I’m not alone in this “maturing” process. My husband started an exercise regime to help fend off the years, but then complains about his numerous aches and pains. Well, if you’re 70+, get up at 4:50 AM to play 8 games of racquetball in 2 1/2 hours, followed by a 10 mile bike ride and an hour of stair climbing, I say you deserve to hurt. Stop your whining. Personally, I prefer to sleep in and go to brunch. That way I’m well rested, fully energized, and ready to give the next person who calls me “cute” as much grief as humanly possible. After all, I’m his or her mother’s age…er grandmother’s age … I figure it’s my job.
A 71 year old who truly believes she’s still 26, Lindsay Brown is a freelance writer who has been published in Women’s World, major newspapers, and of course her personal diary. A retired English professor, Lindsay ponders the universe, makes great almond cookies, is in constant battle with ageism and anyone who wants her to be PC.
You may reach her c/o Jonna@Janglery.com
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Those first “ma’am”s are rough. I’m always pleased at the places out in the world–stores, museums, restaurants–where the young people have been trained to call everyone “miss.”
I’m certain I wasn’t as kind in earlier years to women more “mature,” so those less than flattering interactions might just be my karma.