So I had a picture of me at 45 posted on Mirth’s About page. It was a good picture – especially for someone who’s never been photogenic — taken on that birthday at the library where I worked. Husband had sent a big beautiful bouquet via the trendiest and most expensive florist in town (we must have been fighting bitterly, or I must have been particularly bitchy or depressed; he at any rate atoned for many sins with that fabulous flourish of flowers. We women are a shallow lot). An impressed co-worker took the photo, and had a gift for the medium. It was a good picture.
But that portrait is now 12 years old – this, in the day of the hourly-updated social-media Selfie. How did 12 years happen? And I claim to be a woman who doesn’t palaver about her age, who doesn’t dress like a chicklet or giggle like an ingénue or flounce like a cheerleader, a woman who tries to man up to the ravages of time and say, “This is what 57 looks like.”
That in itself is vain, of course, but I tell myself it’s a mature sort of vanity. “Not too bad for 57” is a fairly modest self-assessment. One might even call it “humble.” One might even say, “How pathetic!”
Yet my 57 apparently screams Senior Citizen – and not just to the clerk at McDonald’s, who automatically offers me a free small coffee and warns me in a loud overly-enunciated voice about the dangers of its temperature. Interesting, that as Old People we’re treated once again like children.
Cue the Circle of Life soundtrack.
What’s a handful of years, at this point in life? Nothing, really – but the assumption, based upon gray hair, that I’m a decade or two older than I am makes me want to mutter naughty words (and I’m a person who flips off other drivers below the dashboard so they won’t see me. Pointless? Perhaps. But, that way, they’re not so apt to pull out a gun and shoot my ass).
I’m still 35 inside, after all. Why don’t people see that?
I got off on this tangent because a co-worker of rather advanced age is retiring and offered to give advice about social security and pensions and retirement options and Medicare and insurance supplements. Granted, that’s akin to sharing details of the indignities of age-related hemorrhoids or thick yellow toenails or newly-vigorous nose hair. But she meant well, and sent a lunch invitation out to everyone she considered Old.
Far be it from me to turn down a free lunch.
Husband and I get those dinner invitations from financial planners all the time now, too – sit through a scintillating three-hour retirement presentation, share your bank account information with us, and we’ll treat you to an all-you-can-eat deep-fried buffet at the Pig & Trough!
We do turn down those free dinners.
And the impotence remedies – why did the great Google overlords decide that I needed to see adds for motorized vacuum erection aids every time I log on to the internet? Has “Missy” ever even remotely been an androgynous name? Or do marketers figure that the way to reach older dysfunctional men is through their older dissatisfied wives?
Those marketers don’t realize that when older women are dissatisfied it’s most generally with themselves; husbands are just an easy target.
You see? I’m not always unkind to mine. I can make an expensive-flowers sort of public gesture on occasion.
The picture on my driver’s license is old, too – and almost as good as the one with the flowers. I’d lucked into a trial 15-year renewal term that Colorado has since abandoned, probably because of experiences like mine: I waltzed into the Motor Vehicle Department awhile ago to update it and was flagged as an imposter by a nervous young clerk. “I’m sorry. I can’t renew this. It isn’t you,” said she. “Excuse me?” said me. “The computer doesn’t recognize you. This is a forgery.”
In due time her supervisor arrived. He looked at me, looked at the license, and then looked at the clerk. He pointed to my head and said, “Gray hair.” He pointed to the license and said, “Brown hair. Work with me, here.”
I got the renewal, and even got to keep the old picture for another few years. It’s proving to be a mixed blessing: a bank teller last week checked my ID and said, “Gosh! You looked really good with dark hair!”
Her day will come. I hummed The Circle of Life at her.