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Just say No to Aging Gracefully

Last night I dreamed I was at some fancy soiree and I caught sight of my former high school crush. He was pushing the big 60 but still looked 16: wavy brown hair, lime green eyes big as moons, beefy body. So I hailed him down.

“Hi, Harry! It’s Susan.”

Horrified stare.

Then he sort of swirls around shaking his head and muttering to a friend – he thinks out of ear shot –“damn shame, crying shame.”

Talk about rejection. Clearly this traitor wanted to remember me at 16 forever: slender as Twiggy, streaming mane with golden red highlights, cat’s eyes with a come hither slant that I can’t do anymore even if I want to attract someone. Which I don’t.

I know it’s vainglorious, but most of my dreams nowadays have the same theme: I’ve lost my beauty to the grim reaper: Father Time. These dreams are, in fact, non-fiction.

I know I’m not the only one who feels this way. Why, just the other day a friend of mine described what she was willing to endure to regain her beauty.

“First they put this stuff on my face,” she groaned, “and it burned like a forest fire. And, just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, they lasered one age spot after the next and it felt like multiple stab wounds. I wanted to run off the table screaming ‘Call 911! Call 911!’ . . . Where is a fire hose when you need one?”

Frankly, I’m pissed at the women who are doing all this repair work because they have totally undermined the concept of aging gracefully, wrinkling with dignity, puffing up with aplomb.

I can look through wrinkles – just not my own. I have several friends whose Rand McNally skin doesn’t belie their beautiful features. I’m not talking “inner beauty” here, OK? They simply still look beautiful, or handsome, whatever the case may be but men don’t generally wrinkle as badly as women because their skin is thicker.

Anyhoo, I point out to a friend how the skin on my arms hangs in sheets now when I bend them and lift them out in front of me. Certain positions really show off the crenellation. They are, in fact, two streamers of crepe paper flapping in the wind.

We get into a decrepitude contest when she says, “Oh, I know. Mine do that too. But look at THIS!” And she points to the emerging chicken flap of skin that was once her neck. “I have to wear turtlenecks now even in the heat.”

Which isn’t so bad considering where we live never gets much over 70, although we had a 100 degree heat wave last week.

We can discuss other body parts in future columns, but I want to leave you with this little upbeat note: it helps to tug back and smooth your skin (a tight headband helps too). You can tell yourself, as I do every day, “I don’t have to look this way. I can always have some face work done.”

And that is often enough dreaming to get me through another day, provided I don’t look in the mirror again. At least no mirror that doesn’t have completely even lighting so as not to highlight any craters or seismic shifts . . .


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