Prior to her turn as the villain in the Charlie’s Angel flick, Demi Moore spent more on her body than I have on my house. It was the last ditch effort by an aging start to regain her youth. I have always believed that growing older meant access to greater wisdom, an increased right to eccentricities, and a free pass to be more outspoken. I used to fantasize about the crotchety, sharp-tongued old woman I would be when I am in my 60s and 70s. I didn’t get Demi. What was the big deal? Why couldn’t people age gracefully and accept the march of time across their face and body? Why can’t we wear our wrinkles and scars proudly? I was of course 30 at that time. I didn’t have wrinkles or scars.
A few winters have passed since then. Demi looks older. So do I. The clock is ticking. One more year is winding down and slowly but inexorably I am headed to my own personal landmark birthday – the big four O. And God if I had change to spare I would seriously consider going Demi’s way. All my wisdom and equanimity of the 30s have given way to the harsh, fine-line ridden reality of the 40s. I would willingly sacrifice wisdom and experience at the altar of youth and optimistic ignorance.
Snigger all you like at me, but there is no denying the truth, in our hearts most of us, who are tilting the age scale towards the wrong end, are young. I don’t feel 39 or 40. I feel 25 on most days and 30 on a bad day. I look at the women in their 20s and even those in their early 30s walking by blithely unaware of the fact that they are strutting around on borrowed time and I want to shake them and scream in their face – “Appreciate it. Appreciate what you have… your body, your youth, and the vista of time spreading endlessly in front of you.” Let me not even talk about the teens. I would love to slap most of them on their head – that is how pissed off I am with the fact that they have the rest of their lives ahead of them… the bloody ingrates.
I did not always feel this violently towards the young. This anger has only built up in the last couple of years when I realized that there is no turning back the clock and that much as I try to be positive about it, there is no denying the harsh fact that I am getting older.
I am no longer the target audience of marketers and market analysts. I no longer count – be it for soda pops (not cool enough) or jewellery (already married), coffee or chocolates (no longer a PYT – of course it is debatable if I ever was) or insurance policies (wrong gender or not old enough). The only advertisers who target me are those who see me as a mother or a nagging wife or someone who needs a miracle age-defying face cream.
I could go the Demi route but there is no denying the truth. I could splash on the facial glob and stretch and massage my skin to look a few years younger but it will never have the plump freshness of young skin (damn you young girls who have no bloody idea!). And there is no denying the biggest truth of them all – my body and head are travelling on completely different paths. Worse, the body is speeding up towards whatever the final number is, whereas my head is stuck in my 20s. And this dichotomy manifests in many myriad ways.
I see a Katrina Kaif or Emma Stone (for that matter) wear something that would have looked good on me a decade ago and I am tempted to try something like that on. What happens in the changing room is a whole different blog altogether.
I find myself using slangs that my friend’s teen kids use and then feel the uncontrollable urge to crawl in to a pit and die when I realize what an ass I am making of myself. I listen to all the latest pop and rock numbers. I even listen to hip-hop so that I know what my kid and her friends are listening to. And this is where the 20-in-the-head-me pops out – I enjoy most of the latest hits. But like my friend noticed the other days, we are no longer capable of remembering the lyrics.
I still crush after handsome young and not-so-young actors. But unlike in my 20s and 30s when you could day dream about them without feeling like an old coot, now when I day dream I resemble a cougar at best and a cradle snatcher at worst. In your day dreams you are no longer being romanced by the dashing tall dark hero. You are now being romanced by the dashing tall dark young man. Damn! Of course it does not stop the day dreaming but now there is the added shame of knowing that the svelte, slinky 20 something in the row ahead of you in the darkened cinema hall, and you who is stumbling along on the wrong side of 30 or even 40, are both crushing after the same young…, I meant, hunk. Thankfully the shame doesn’t last long.
I find myself walking in the park and no longer wondering about how the fit woman in front of me manages to look so fit. I am thinking, “I wonder how old she is?” I no longer ask “Am I as fat as her?” I ask, “Do I look as old as her?”
One reads about men buying sports cars or having affairs when they have a mid-life crisis and women opting for a toy boy or a killer designer wardrobe. But these are the solutions (if you can call them that) of the rich. What does a middle-class woman without a trust fund or the cheat gene do?
My friend and I have come up with this plan. It involves micro-waving some popcorn and renting a few DVDs. And then we will host the ‘Hitting The Forties Movie Festival’. The only criteria for the movies that can be played at this festival is that the hero and his best friend and uncle and dad should all be drop-dead good looking men with 6 packs, beautiful eyes, deep voice and a smile to light up the next ten years. You are most welcome to join my friend and me – the only criteria for members? You should not be younger than 37. If you are, then get out of my space while I try desperately to hang on to youth and kid myself about my age for a bit longer.