Monday, February 15, 2010

Age Cannot Wither Me - although it may wrinkle me…

I just had a birthday (did you know that?)
which means, whether I want to be or not, I am another year older, another year closer to “over the hill.”

I am not yet over the hill nor do I intend to be any time soon - despite what some might have begun to insinuate when I turned 40 by giving me all sorts of ridiculous black gifts, tonics and creams for warding off the signs of aging and making really bad jokes.  What was the commercial, “You’re not getting older, you’re getting better “ - and I damn well am getting better all the time.

I’m more comfortable with who I am than I was 20 years ago or as is sometimes said, “I am more comfortable in my own skin.”
That is sort of true as I can’t imagine being in someone else’s skin but I’m not totally content with the extra tonnage I am carrying around nor the wrinkles that keep appearing all over my body, not just on my face.  I’m trying to “love the skin [I’m} in “ and, hopefully, as soon as I can motivate myself to do the shopping I recently convinced myself was OK I should look pretty effing good. There is a show on British telly called “How to look good naked.”  I’m thinking that if new clothes and makeup don’t work - I already have the new haircut - then I may audition for the show.

In the meantime, I keep an eye on my idol, Dame Judi Dench,for motivation.
She is 76.  She is wrinkled.  She is short (she prefers “petite”).  She is “cuddly” (doesn’t that sound ever so much nicer than “fat”).  And she still looks fabulous!  She steals the show in the Bond movies not just from gorgeous Pierce Brosnan or that amazing 6- pack of Daniel Craig, but from the Bond girls, too.  I love her!! She won an Oscar for being the Queen. I want to be her when I grow up.

You see, I am already just like her. Her specialty is being adored.  So is mine (well, it will be as soon as I convince the three men in my life that their job is to adore me).  She was married to the same man (now deceased) for 30 years.  I’ve been married to the same man for 28+ years and he is still around, thank goodness.  Dame Judi was totally dependent on her Mikey (the actor Michael Williams), as I am on David.  She has been heard to say that “I can’t do anything on my own.”  Ditto!  I need my men around.

She is always looking for the next good thing to do - which in her case is a new film or stage production just as I’m always looking for the next adventure.  She didn’t make her first film until late in life
so I am inspired that the next great  thing for me may still be out there.

The problem with aging isn’t all me, it’s the attitudes and expectations of other people. Our culture does not value the lives of older people because, well, they will soon be dead.  The feelings of older people can’t possibly have the depth or significance of the feelings of let’s say, teenagers. The real problem here is that we are the ones that started all that youth culture stuff and now we are having to deal with the monster we created.  I am smack in the middle of the baby boomers and, unfortunately, the birth rate just hasn’t kept up.  There just aren’t enough young’uns to support us in our old age. 

But there should be an upside to an aging population - and to being a part of it.  I’m sorry Jane Fonda, I don’t want to be a GlamMa - too much work.  I have earned the right to go without all that makeup and still like myself.  And who wants to “feel the burn” at 60.  Arthritis is bad enough without exacerbating it.

After all that adolescent angst of  the last half of the 20th century, perhaps it will be good for things to settle down a bit.  Who can disagree that the world could benefit from the calmer, wiser, more studied approach that comes with age?  Maybe it is what is needed to save the planet.  As historian Theodore Roszak said, “Aging is the best thing that has happened in the modern world, a cultural and ethical shift that looks a lot like sanity.”

Now I’m not saying that I won’t bitch about getting older from time to time.  And certainly, it doesn’t look like the media is poised to change from total youth orientation to an appreciation of geezers.  Have you ever noticed how in our often overly PC world it is not acceptable to make jokes about Blacks, Jews, the disabled, Muslims, even Poles and such but it is still perfectly acceptable to joke about or even ridicule old age?

  I liked it when I could be the center of any function.
Being married to someone nearly 10 years my senior has often made me the youngest woman in the room..  No more.  But, I am learning that it is good sometimes to be the wise one rather than the cute one.
 Time to grow up.  Just so long as I can do it as elegantly as Dame Judi.

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