Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Vicissitudes of Age

I’ve joked often with my friends that they just don’t make high school boys the way they did when I was in high school. Back then, high school boys looked like boys – they were mostly kind of thin, gangly, occasionally spotty, and there’s no way that they could’ve walked into a bar without being tossed right back out. Today, though, if you walk past any high school football team at practice, you could be forgiven for thinking you were watching a team that was at least semi-pro. These boys are big! And where the heck do all those chiselled jaws come from? I mean, are they ordered before conception?!

Even my friends’ sons don’t look the way I expected them to look – sure, for the most part, they are in their late teens or early 20s, but they don’t look anything like the boys I remember from high school or university. So we remark on it, blame it (only half-jokingly) on hormones in chicken, and move on.

But the other day (by which I could well mean a couple of weeks ago – my grasp of time is sometimes quite fluid), I was on a bus heading downtown. The bus was crowded, and so I was standing near the rear exit door, contentedly listening to my iPod. Near Dalhousie University, 4 young men got on the bus and moved towards the rear, where they wound up standing near me.

Here’s what I noticed – they were all very attractive. No spotty skin here, but lovely complexions. Nice haircuts. Clear, bright eyes. They were all close to 6 feet tall, if not taller. They were all very nicely built (although it’s winter, it wasn’t a very cold day, and they weren’t seriously bundled up – I don’t have x-ray vision!) – one might have been a football player, another a soccer player, but they were all fit. And they smelled marvellous – how to explain this without having my friends lock up their sons?? They smelled clean, of nice soap… and someone was wearing one of my favourite men’s colognes. I felt myself smiling inside as I listened to their conversation – nothing important, just talking about what they were going to do that day, and generally having fun. I remembered being that age, and having those conversations. My whole life was ahead of me, and there were a million decisions that were finally mine alone to make – and not all of them were big decisions.

Here’s the other thing I noticed. In the couple of moments it took me to notice all this about this small group of young men, I also noticed that they did not notice me – I don’t mean that I think they should’ve been checking me out (erk!), but rather, that I wasn’t even on their radar. I was invisible! When the heck did I become invisible? I think it must’ve been around the time I turned 40. For the most part, young men do not notice women of my age (and what the heck is this – ‘women of my age?!’ Sheesh.) – and lately, those who have noticed have been full-on hitting on me (I think they want their Mrs. Robinson moment, although many of them wouldn’t get the cultural reference).

And the last thing I noticed as they exited the bus is that if they had noticed me, it would’ve been along the lines of … being reminded of an aunt… or their mother. Oh, dear. I won’t really be cute again to adorable young men for another 30 years or so, when I have become a truly old lady!

Someone once said that getting old is not for sissies, and indeed it is not! I’ve long since accepted much of this whole aging process, sometimes with great bemusement. I can live with the wrinkles around my eyes (crows’ feet, my ass!) – but perhaps that’s because they’re generally obscured by the temples of my glasses!

I’ve accepted that my pores aren’t what they used to be, and like everything else, are not as tight and smooth as they once were.

My grey hair has never bothered me – in fact, I think it’s kind of a pretty, shiny grey, and if I knew that my whole head of hair would go that colour, I think I’d be ok with it. As it is now, though, I get a bit of grey at the temples, and it’s sometimes noticeable where my hair is parted. Just enough grey, in fact, for people to wonder why I don’t do something to touch it up! (A sidebar: I have been dyeing my hair for a very long time, since my daughter was 2, in fact. It has been many shades of red, a couple of shades of blonde, and it’s now brunette, which I quite like. I have never dyed my hair to cover grey, but only because I’m easily bored, and it’s cheaper than a vacation!) But what’s with the thinning hair?? It’s not enough that it’s gonna go grey whether I like it or not (thank goodness I don’t care!), but thinning hair? Really? I noticed this in a picture that a friend took of me, and as I first glanced at it, I thought, what’s that white in my hair?? And it was my scalp!! I could see my head through my hair! (OK, this is probably a shrug-inducer for men, many of whom deal with the whole thinning hair thing long before most women, but still. My hair was thin enough before, thanks very much!) And I thought that perhaps it’s because I’ve put waaaaaay too much hair colour in my hair, but when I mentioned in a whisper to a friend, she said, “I know just what you mean!!” Oh, thank God. I am not alone. This happens to other women as well. It doesn’t make it OK, or anything like that, but at least I’m not alone!

I look at my hands sometimes, and I see the hands of an older woman, particularly when I look at my hand next to my daughter’s 21-year-old hands The skin on her hands is tight and smooth, while mine is… not. That surprised me, and I don’t much like it, but I can live with it.

But then there’s my chin. I know, I know, this is vanity unfettered, but this is my blog, and I can wax poetic (or rant) about whatever the heck I want. And the subject today is my chin. What’s with this … loose skin I’m seeing there?? That is an old lady chin! I’m not ready for that! I used to think I wasn’t vain enough for plastic surgery – don’t have perky breasts? So what?! They have served me well, done what I needed them to do, fed babies, been objects of desire for lovers, so if they don’t stand up like an 18-year-old’s, I am ok with that. (I’ve watched enough of Nip/Tuck to know that plastic surgery doesn’t always go the way one expects, after all…) I’ve never had any desire to shoot botulism into my forehead, nor to sand away the wrinkles around my eyes, nor even the lines I’ve noticed on she sides of my mouth – they are brackets to my smile, and I’m ok with that.

But I’m not ok with this whole chin thing. I could see having plastic surgery for this, honestly! And how vain is that?? I’ve already established that I’m getting older, and I’m ok with it, truly! It’s inevitable anyhow, even for a goddess such as myself. And I am still the youngest of all my siblings. But I’m having issues with the chin thing.

I can’t imagine ever being one of those people ‘of a certain age’ who dresses in a manner more appropriate for someone 30 years her junior (30 years… sob!), but insofar as I wish to look in the mirror and still recognise myself, I’m gonna invest in more moisturiser! I wonder if women get hair implants…


Chaviva said...

Evidently, The Boss feels the same way I do!

rob said...

I read this one with a faint smile on my wrinkled face...nice writing!

Chaviva said...

You don't want to smile TOO much... we people of a certain age have to beware of accordian face...