November 16, 2008

The other night I was at a party and found myself talking to a famous woman whose face didn't move. I assumed she'd had a stroke. Then suddenly I realised it wasn't a stroke, it was a face lift. A stroke would have made her so much more interesting.
Whenever I see women who have had plastic surgery to look younger I think they never look younger, they just look like they've had plastic surgery in a desperate attempt to look younger.
As soon as the famous woman walked away I asked the host of the party how old he thought she was. "She is," he paused carefully, "of a certain age."
I'm not sure what that means. Was it a compliment? An attempt to be respectful?
Turns out, neither. His explanation: "It means she's past her use-by date."
Then, in an attempt to sound more charitable, he added: "A bit like a car."
I suppose there's a limited amount of time women have before they break down, and become useless to men. When I pressed for more detail he said, "Either they accept it or they attempt to stave off the ageing process with plastic surgery."
Those are the choices.
Men are conditioned to believe it's rude to ask a woman how old she is but it's never bothered me. I'd much rather have a man ask how old I am than how much money I make. Does it matter? Clearly I'm no Ivana Trump. I'm happy to give my real age but I'll give a fake income. I'm of a certain tax bracket.
Most people assume saying a woman is of a certain age is polite but I think it's the opposite. It's implying she's so ancient, you don't want to know. The only thing worse than saying she's of a certain age is saying she's long in the tooth. Why not just call her a mule?
How old is a woman of a certain age? The point when men stop wanting to have sex with you. Helen Mirren is an undisputed bombshell at 63. There's nothing uncertain about it. Maybe because she's sexy. You can be sexy and ageless but you can't be sexy and of a certain age.
People say age is a state of mind but if that's the case then I've been of a certain age since I was 18. When all of my friends were out partying and having fun, I was home worrying about the future. If I have a sell-by date I passed it a long time ago. Not that I mind. What's wrong with being old? Other than it's no fun. But why does life have to be fun all the time?
I was walking home the other night and there was a sign outside a church that said in big bold letters: "Is this it?" Underneath is smaller letters it was written "Understanding is ageless."
I went inside. It was a community centre and there was a woman on the phone at a desk in the lobby. "What's that sign about?" I asked. Without getting off the phone she covered the mouthpiece and told me it was a course. "On what?" I asked. She told whoever she was speaking to, to hold on and began to look through a drawer. Then she let out a sigh and told me, "I've run out of pamphlets."
A man came rushing down the stairs and asked if I would come back later; it was a seminar on finding meaning in life - at any age. So I did what any woman of a certain age would do. I said, "I can't. I'm tired. I'm old."