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You can be 35 or 55.  It doesn’t matter.  We either die or get old.  It is, however, feasible . . . in this youth centric society we have evolved . . . to forestall the obvious signs of aging for an indefinite period of time.  I mean, really, have you seen the 60+ ladies in the “Lifestyle Lifts” commercials?  These “old babes” are putting the 50-year-old Bowflex hottie from a few years back to shame.  Don’t get me wrong.  I believe in doing anything that makes you feel better about yourself.  Kudos to these with the means and the balls to fight off the ravages of time for as long as possible.  Still, no matter how much we workout, nip, tuck, plump, lift, cover, “yada, yada, yada” . . . there are still a few sure signs that “maturity” is settling in. 

“Submitted for your consideration.”

  1. You find it necessary to negotiate with your beautician or barber the percentage of gray hair you have.  A dear (and younger friend) was recently informed that her tri-foiled locks were — if left untreated — more than 50% “arctic blonde.”  If you are among the uninitiated, “arctic blonde” is the new “PC” term for gray.  How bad is it when we can’t even call it gray hair anymore?  Still, it is a true sign of encroaching age when you are confronted with being grayer than you think or can possibly accept.  Girlfriend reached a compromise with her stylist settling on an “arctic blonde” ratio of only 25 to 30 percent.  Hey, I’m not gray . . . those are arctic blonde highlights! 
  2. You don’t mind that couple of extra pounds, if it means your butt don’t sag.  If you’re there, you know what I’m talking about.  I never gave it any thought until happily losing some unwanted pudge, I caught a horrifying glimpse of my backside.  Sure, you expect some things to “go south,” but really?!?  You struggle to keep the “junk in the trunk” to a minimum only to one day realize the “junk” is all that’s propping it up!  Thank goodness we live in the 21st century.  All it takes is a pair of Booty Pops to make everything right with the world.  Wonder bra . . . check.  Booty Pops . . . check.  William Shatner-style girdle . . . check.  I’m never taking my clothes off again!
  3. Cheaters!  Not spouses that are fidelity challenged, but those cheap reading glasses.  You can’t deny them.  You can’t disguise them.  There is a distinct correlation between qualifying for AARP membership and the cumulative length of time they are on your face in combination with the number you own.  Mine once served more often as a hair band, less as a visual aid.  Now I can’t function without them, so it’s a pair in each room of the house, the car, my purse, the computer tote, the garage, even a couple in the miscellany drawer.  Of course, I’m not old enough to go to the optometrist to get bifocals.  God forbid!
  4. Hair that grows where it shouldn’t.  This affliction differs person-to-person as well as between men and women.  The universal indicator of encroaching decrepitude is, however, the unruly eyebrow hair.  I believe they spontaneously appear and aren’t visible in the privacy of your own home, but you get out in public . . . you will see it in any reflective surface you get near.  It’s generally half inch longer than the rest of your eyebrows, the consistency of wire and sticking out at some bizarre angle.  It will also be impossible to discretely pluck.  I have found long bangs to be the only sure method of hiding one until it can be ripped out with a stout pair of pliers.
  5. Last, but not least . . . your off-the-cuff references mystify those still in possession of their youth.  You qualify as an oldster if any of the following apply.  You remember when Johnny Depp was on 21 Jump Street and Tom Hanks was on Bosom Buddies or Sean Connery was 007 and Roger Moore was The Saint.  You used aluminum foil to improve TV reception or 8-inch floppies in your IBM XT.  You owned an Atari, Commodore 64 or Apple II.  You ever did the watusi, the hustle or the twist; Moonwalked with Michael; Cloned with Molly; or Superbowl Shuffled with the Bears.  You can see where I’m going with this, right?  “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia.” 

All of that said; I reckon knowledge is power.  Thus empowered, I figure with constantly changing beauticians, meticulous personal grooming, proper foundation garments, never reading in public again and keeping my big mouth shut . . . I’m good for at least a few more years of being one of those women of undetermined age.   Well, that’s my plan for now . . . maybe a consult with the “Lifestyle Lift” people . . . of course, I don’t need one yet . . . perhaps just a little resurfacing or Botox . . . was that an anti-aging cream ad in the sidebar?

bungalow.png

 

They lived just down the road in a tidy, little bungalow painted a soft blue-gray with creamy-white trim. The modest dwelling had an aura of happiness and serenity.  I would see them on warm days puttering together in a garden filled with a riot of bright blossoms complemented by eclectic yard art and musical wind chimes created in the tiny shop set just back of the house from bits and pieces discarded by others.  My mother purchased a whimsical, mosaic ball constructed of shards of tinted glass one autumn from under the multi-colored canopy shading the spot they occupied every Saturday in the local Farmer’s Market – along with a jar of the best huckleberry jam I ever tasted.  I would run into them sometimes in the grocery aisles or notice them gaily singing at Sunday morning’s service.  Their presence was ever accompanied by carefree sounds . . . laughing, whistling, singing, happy chattering.  Always they were together.

It would have been easy to dismiss them as a trio of “crazy, old, cat ladies” sans the multitude of critters. In all honesty, there may have been a cat or two around though nothing defining.  What was most noteworthy were their eyes. All three had sparkling, amazingly youthful eyes of distinctly different colors.  Over time, I came to associate other particulars with each as well.  Boots had eyes of uncommon green and straight, blondish hair with a smattering of silver.  I can’t recall any time I saw her without her signature boots. She wore them everywhere and with everything.  Gypsy’s eyes were brown and soft and inviting.  Need I explain why I tagged her Gypsy?  She would forever put me in mind of the stereotype associated with those nomadic, romantic peoples.  She was not a caricature, but from her flowing skirts to her golden earrings and dark, wavy hair, she had that same flavor. Curly most certainly had once been the quintessential beach girl.  Her eyes the color of a summer sky were underscored with a sprinkling of freckles across the bridge of her nose and framed by the platinum grey curls that could not be contained by clips used in the vain attempt to control the rebellious mop.  They were the embodiment of Bohemian regardless their advancing age.

I often wondered how they came to be the inseparable troupe they were.  It was unlikely they were sisters, though their closeness that often seen in twins.  They even finished one another’s sentences. They shared everything.  It was not unusual for Boots to retrieve the reading glasses from atop her head handing them over to Curly to examine the print on a box or in a hymn book.  Curly, in turn, frequently pulled one accessory or another from her own hair to gather Gypsy’s locks keeping them from interfering with whatever undertaking Gypsy was absorbed with.  Should Boots shiver with cold, straight away one of Gypsy’s scarves would materialize to cloak her.  I don’t believe words were necessary between them.  They were synced on a level sometimes developed by couples married a lifetime.

One winter day I was watching Boots and Gypsy from the street as I meandered past their cottage on my way home from school.  They sat at a desk in the window engrossed with the computer before them.  I was not surprised to see them tapping away at the keyboard switching on some mystic cue back and forth, pointing, pausing to laugh, only to return to the task they were so obviously enjoying.  I was so captivated by the scene, the sound of the mailbox closing startled me.  I found myself staring into a pair of amused, blue eyes.  Embarrassed to have been caught so blatantly peering into the home of another, all I could do was stammer and become intensely interested in the toes of my scruffy tennis shoes.  The resonance of Curly’s supple chuckle brought my eyes back to hers.  What was there to do, but shrug and smile?  The gentle touch of her hand on my arm, as if by some strange conjuring, released me from my anxiety and shame.

“I’m sorry to be a Peeping Tom, ma’am.  It’s just that you and the other ladies . . . well, it’s just that . . . you can’t be sisters.  Why aren’t you with your families,” the words had slipped from my lips before I could filter such an inappropriate inquiry from being born and trailed away with an awkward, “or something?”

Curly then gave me in her sweet, quiet voice words I would learn the truth of throughout the years of my own life. “Well, I suppose, it might seem odd to a girl as young as yourself, my dear, but in your future there will be both cheer and tragedy, glad times and heart breaks.  It’s sad to say, but men will likely come and go.  Your parents will not always be around.  Should you have children, you will raise them and they will leave you to lead lives of their own as will your siblings.  But if you are truly blessed as I have been, you will have those sisters of your soul that will be there with you through it all. They will laugh with you in your joy.  They will support you in your trials. They will encourage you to pursue your dreams. They will cry with you your tears of sorrow. They will be proud of your achievements. They will ground you when you drift from what is reasonable. They will find you should you lose your way. They will hold your confidences and keep your secrets.  They will offer the hand that helps you up when you have fallen.  They will come to know you and you them in ways no one else ever can.  So, at the end of the day, you are never alone.  We three have each other now that the loved ones in our separate lives have passed or moved on.  We are simply doing what we have always done . . . be there for one another when there is no one else.  We are friends!”

What really makes men and women different?  I think I’ve found another defining point of difference.  Which would you pick?  I’m not saying there aren’t crossovers.  I struggled with the question.  I have had my eye on a sweet, little Pontiac Solstice for a while, nice roadster  . . . red with all the bells and whistles.  I was actually putting money away to buy it.
 
I also believe that what we live through impacts our response.  If men had babies and endured the ravages childbearing bestows on our bodies, they would be foregoing the sports cars too.  Yes, I gave up my hot, little sports car in favor of one last shot at a hot, little body.  I’m shocked I did it!  Even now it seems so superficial and shallow to me.
 
I have been working hard on the whole health and fitness thing for some time now.  I’m in great shape and workout everyday.  I do it because it makes me feel good.  There are byproducts though.  I’m more fit than most 20-somethings.  I started looking younger too.  Men are interested in me “that way” again.  People treat me differently.  I like it.
 
It wasn’t good enough anymore to look good “in” clothes; suddenly, I found myself yearning for the half-naked days of beachwear and tank tops, shorts and minis, bare midriffs and belly-button rings.  Having children and years of yoyo dieting had taken their toll on my previously unappreciated physique.  I’m not so old yet as to not care.
 
I embraced my narcissism . . . quit smoking . . . cleared out my savings accounts . . . let a surgeon carve up a perfectly healthy body and why?  Is it vanity?  Have I finally reached that “age?”  Have I succumb to commercial and societal pressure to be forever young and beautiful?  OR . . . Has this always been a part of me?  Is it only now that I have the means to do it?  To be honest, its probably some of all of it.
 
Let’s put it in a box and call it “mid-life crisis” . . . the final culmination of disposable income and facing of one’s own mortality.  One of my bosses bought a bright, yellow, convertible Vette last year.  He said he had always wanted one and could finally afford it, so why not?  Well, truth be known, I always wanted perky breasts.  Why not?  I never had them . . . till now.
 
Yes, I plan to be in shape to go toe-to-toe with the BowFlex grandma by this summer.  I think I can take her!  So what’s left but to save up for a tropical cruise and find that perfect bikini?  Aloha!

 

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