I have about ten months before I enter my sexagenarian decade, but I’m already apprehensive. My fifties haven’t exactly been a walk in the park, so I cautiously wonder what my sixties will be like. Most of us get the Cliff Notes version of aging. Hair turns gray, periods stop, and you turn into a kindly grandmotherly figure or a mean old crone – that’s all they tell us when we are young ladies full of life, hope and hormones. But I need to reveal what I have discovered so far.
- Gravity is not your friend, but moisturizer is.
I find myself wondering – what would my boobs look like in space? As you get older, a weightless environment sounds like a good idea. Everything heads South, from eyelids to toenails, and you don’t even get a Mint Julep. Why does the bra that keeps my boobs in the general area where they belong cost as much as a train ticket to Los Angeles? When I was going to the five-and-dime with my mother to get my first training bra, no one warned me that someday my bras would cost $60. Why does it cost so much to restore elasticity to my skin? I use moisturizer religiously – one for my face, one for my body, and three different ones for my hands. Who wants wrinkly old lady hands? Sometimes they look like an aerial map of the Sahara and other times they look white and ashy like Mount St. Helens on a bad day. I will not leave home without hand cream – under any circumstances.
- “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” is no joke.
Once you realize that everything hurts and probably will hurt for the rest of your life, the better you will feel. My new boyfriends are Ben Gay and Arthur Ritis – which decreases my allure to 99% of the male population of this planet. (And I would advise staying away from the remaining 1%.) You will learn that keeping your balance is actually something that is not guaranteed to happen at all times. I’m now compiling a list of my most memorable falls. So far, number one is a ramp at Union Station in Los Angeles when I fell running for a Metrolink train to Anaheim. I have been able to quickly bounce back and pick myself up, but the day is coming when I will need one of those emergency devices around my neck as a permanent accessory. I just hope that I don’t fall in a tub, as wet and naked has never been one of my best looks.
- Your hair will never again be your crowning glory.
What hair? My hair started falling out three years ago and has never returned, no matter how many creams, shampoos and conditioners I put on it. Maybe all of those years of relaxing, dyeing, and picking have caught up with me. I have thought about wigs and weaves, but thinning, weak hair doesn’t give you much to attach them to without worrying that they will end up on the ground at an inopportune time. I’m thinking of just shaving my head and accepting the inevitable, letting my skull shine free and unencumbered. Which brings me to the next point.
- Jimmy Page can date a 26-year-old, but you cannot.
As a bald, old lady with a lack of balance and a lot of gravity and gravitas – the chance of getting a date will diminish from slim to non-existent. As society has it, men get distinguished and women just get old. Rock stars like Jimmy Page can still pick up 26-year-old girls when they are 71, but what 71-year-old woman in her right mind would want a 26-year-old boyfriend? Really, I think that Jimmy should follow my own dating rule – never date anyone who was born after John Bonham’s death. If they can’t remember when Led Zeppelin was an intact band, they are too young. And where do fifty-ish women go to find a date? I love music, but going to concerts does not attract any suitors. The ones that are alone or with male friends are usually drunk before the band hits the stage. So it’s either “girls night out,” (if you have friends) or “cat video marathon” (I have no friends).
- Dressing your age sucks.
I’m not going to mention any brands, but “age appropriate” clothes look like crap. I’m not wearing a turtleneck no matter how bad my neck looks. If I spend $60 on a bra, you can be sure that I’m going to show some cleavage. I will NOT wear any pastels or pants with elastic waistbands. I will wear motorcycle jackets and Doc Martens with funky hats. I will slip into my skinny jeans as long as I am not wearing adult diapers. If I reach diaperdom, I will wear long colorful shirts and sweaters over my not-so-skinny jeans. If people don’t like my ial choices, who cares? Wear whatever makes you feel good. If Susan Sarandon can show her bra at 69, so can you.
- It is very expensive to get older, so plan ahead.
This is important. Get all of the insurance that you can as soon as you can. Get all of the health tests that you need, and some that you don’t need, if you still have employer-paid health care. If you want to live in a fancy senior complex that will take care of you when you don’t remember that you are you, save up every penny that you can and invest wisely. Unless you start out with that silver spoon, you need to assume that you will have less money when you retire and that everything you will need to live will cost twice as much. Don’t buy anything that you can’t pay off in five years. If you don’t have any money, marrying a rich man is out of the question. (See item 4.)
- Laugh at yourself before others do so they will just assume that you are crazy. Live as long as you can just to piss off the insurance agencies, screw up demographics, and recoup all of the years that you paid for medical benefits that you didn’t use.
Remember that laughter is the best medicine. I hope to be here a long time looking at my bald, off-balanced, dateless, inappropriately dressed visage and laughing my sagging ass off. I’m still here, and that’s the important thing. When we were younger, the one piece of advice that older people tried to give us was to find joy in each day – advice that we ignored until the day we realized that there were more years gone than there were remaining. Once you reach the age when three-fourth of the deaths you hear about are people younger than you, you have to applaud opening your eyes each morning. This is what I have learned so far. Sure, getting old sucks, but it’s an adventure too – like an amusement park fun house. You never know what’s waiting for you at the next turn or what it’s going to look like. But as long as you are still turning, you ain’t done yet. Life is like a rotisserie chicken.