“Doctor please, some more of these. Outside the door, she took four more. What a drag it is getting old” The Rolling Stones, Mother’s Little Helper
I happened to overhear something hilarious while out shopping yesterday. A 50-something dad was trying to explain a disposable camera to his tween daughter. She was holding the relic, looking at it like it was some kind of magical fossil from the Jurassic era, while he was attempting to tell her how it worked. Daughter: “But like where do I upload the pics?” Dad: “You don’t upload. You take them to a lab to get prints.” Daughter: “Wait, but like, what does that mean?” Dad: “Prints. (off her confused look) “Prints. Actual paper pictures.” Daughter: “But, like, what’s the point of that? Like, how do I even put that on my Instagram?” I couldn’t help laughing and then it hit me- the fact is, I kind of got a late start on this parenting thing and when my kid is that age, I will be (gasp) also firmly into my 50s. How did this happen? When did I get so old?
You barely think about it when you’re young. You know you’ll get old someday, but someday seems So. Far. Away. And you take it for granted- the smoothness of your skin, perkiness of your ass and boobies (and everything else), the sharpness of your mind, the thickness of your hair. These are things that barely register because it seems like a given that they will always be so. Until they aren’t. Until suddenly, you’re being referred to as ma’am and not even getting the courtesy ID check when buying a drink. And then, if you’re anything like me (did I mention that I’m a little bit crazy?) you’ll start to panic that the easiest currency you’ve kind of always had in your back pocket is depreciating quickly.
Now I suppose I should explain that last sentence, because reading it back, it sounds vaguely prostitute-ish. But that’s not how I intended it, just in case anyone was actually thinking I had the world’s oldest profession on my resume. I just mean that a woman, especially when she’s young and at her physical peak, carries a kind of safety stash that she doesn’t necessarily always spend- it’s just nice to know it’s there. Drinks are bought, doors are opened, mechanics might give you a better deal for work done on your car, you might get out of a speeding ticket, all simply because someone thinks you’re pretty and wants to do something nice for you. And let’s be clear- there are a lot of men out there who don’t have such noble intentions, but in my lifetime, I’ve been lucky enough to run across quite a few of the former and not too many of the latter. And then, in the blink of an eye, it all kind of stops. Which is fine, especially if you’re married to a great guy like I am who buys you pretty things and tells you you’re beautiful with some regularity. But it’s still terrifying to know that what was once a quick and easy way to get the guy at Les Schwab to give you two tires for the price of one or to get a bi-weekly free iced venti soy chai at Starbucks is not something you have at your disposal anymore.
Let’s face it- aging sucks. It comes with some perks, for sure: more wisdom, a slight sense of calm that comes with just not wasting the time giving as many effs as you once did, financial stability, responsibility, more meaningful relationships. But physically, it blows. I’ve always found it to be some sort of crazy karmic joke that when we are in our prime emotionally and intellectually, we are beginning our slow physical decline. Which is not to say that we begin walking with a cane and wearing hearing aids at 40- just more that what once was will never be again in the looks department, no matter how hard you work it. I realize that I am now in better shape than I ever have been, mostly because I have to work out six days a week to have a body that barely resembles a chunkier cousin of my 22-year-old body. Or even my 32-year-old body, if I’m being completely honest. I now have to work twice as hard for half the result and that’s fine, if a little unfair and sad. But it’s all part of it, especially here, where standards of beauty are impossibly high and the girl who would be considered skinny in any other city is basically plus sized in Southern California.
The fact is, here, in one of the plastic surgery capitals of the world, there is always a “quick fix” and I’m all for doing whatever makes you feel good about yourself, but often, when you start with the surgeries and the fillers and the facelifts and the boob/butt/cheek/lip implants, you end up making yourself look older. It’s a slippery slope for sure- a little goes a long way, but very few ever stop at a little. So, what’s the solution?
I honestly don’t know. Sometimes I still feel like a 22-year-old in my mind, then I look in the mirror and face the harsh reality that 22 is firmly in my rear view. And no amount of diet and exercise and clean living is going to change that so I’m all for trying a few little tricks to keep me looking and feeling younger. I just started doing Botox about a year ago, and I think it’s a big game changer. I’ve been trying the anti-inflammatory diet that all the celebs have been raving about which means I had to swap out my beloved coffee for tea, which was hard, but I have to admit I do feel better. And I’m even working on cutting back on the wine, with marginally successful results, because, let’s face it- I’m a wino, and I’m married to an Irishman.
The other day, I was at a med-spa trying yet another one of my “keep it young and tight” tricks (“lipolight” which is essentially just using a laser to melt some of your excess fat- I’ll keep you posted on the results) and I had to do a consultation. The tech was asking me a lot of questions so she could put a plan together to get me optimum results when she asked the dreaded question, “And how old are you?” “43,” I responded, thinking in my head how old that sounded, particularly since this young lady was in her 20s. “Oh wow,” she said. “I would have thought you were a lot younger.” Now she may have just been trying to get a repeat customer, but even if she was, it made my day. So there I was, feeling confident and hopeful when she said, “I really like your haircut. Can I take a picture of it?” “Sure,” I said, thinking I really must be having a great hair day. “Thanks,” she said as she snapped a pic. “I’m going to show it to my mom. I think it would look so cute on her.”