Aging Gracefully

By Georgia Kraff

Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of articles about the joys of growing older.  You know the ones I mean.  They have titles like, “You’re At Your Very, Very Best Right Now!” with the subtitle, “Really!  Even at Your Age!”

            Some of these pieces are written by or about women younger than me who are already on their third facelift.  What possible advice can these women give me on how to revel in the splendors of advancing age besides “Get a ton of money and make an appointment with a plastic surgeon – pronto”?

            So I have developed my own, more user-friendly system to make the transition from “Red-Hot Mama” to “Woman of a Certain Age” more comfortable for those of you about to join me on this wondrous adventure called (choke) middle age.

            And now, for the first time every, I’m going to share it.  Here goes:

            The key to aging gracefully is to develop the ability to view your rapidly deteriorating self through a haze of good will.  This can be accomplished in a couple of ways, but if you’re not naturally an overly positive (translation: delusional) person, a couple glasses of wine should help.

            Bottom line:  By whatever means necessary, it helps you to age gracefully if you keep a loose grip on reality.

Your Daily Regimen

            Bathing:  At all costs, try to avoid actually looking at your naked body while in the process of either entering or exiting the bath/shower.  If you should happen to catch a glimpse, remind yourself that mirrors are notorious liars and you are really much better looking than that in 3-D.

            As for the currently popular rituals of exfoliating, creaming, buffing, and pumicing, bear in mind that a great big shiny supple mass of cellulite doesn’t look any better than a great big dull flaky one.  So don’t bother.

            Makeup:  The only thing you really need to know about makeup is that if a beauty product has one or more of the following terms on its label:  “Age Blasting,” “Youth Enhancing,” “Rejuvenating,” or “Replenishing,” that product will cost more than a late model BMW.

Important Information Regarding Makeup Application:  In rooms where you regularly apply makeup, follow the axiom that for every five years of age over 35, you should reduce the wattage of your electric bulbs by 20.  In fact by the time you reach 55 years of age, it’s actually preferable to apply makeup by candlelight.  Of course, following this method, you will also need to conduct all your business and social activities by candlelight as well.  Hey!  Who said romance is dead?

Your Hair

            One of the surest ways to look youthful at any age is by wearing a flattering hairstyle.

            I recently found a photo spread in a popular women’s magazine showing me how to have the look that all my favorite stars are wearing.  It’s a versatile style that looks equally fetching on Jane Fonda and Kate Winslet, two women on opposite ends of the age spectrum.

            So I took the magazine article to a hairstyling professional and, pointing to the pictures of Jane and Kate instructed her to “Make me look like this!”

            Unfortunately, a week earlier I had read another article that told me how to cut my own bangs.  What you do is, you take a chunk of hair, twist it around and around, then snip at the exposed ends with a pair of cuticle scissors.  “Hmmm…,” I said, pushing aside four inches of bang to see if I still had a forehead.  “They are getting a little shaggy.”

            So I grabbed my scissors and a gob of hair and immediately went to work.  Twist and snip.  Twist and snip.  “This is so easy!” I said confidently.  In fact, I was doing such a fine job on my bangs, I decided to continue down the sides of my head.

            “Ah…finished!”  I tossed my head, bits of hair flying in all directions.  I leaned closer to the mirror for a better look.  “Well, it may need a little tweaking to look just right.”

            One week later I was sitting in the professional hairdresser’s chair with movie star pictures in hand and a heart full of gleeful optimism.

            She looked at the pictures, then at my hair.  She seemed to be on the verge of some sort of seizure.  Her pupils began to dilate and her left eye started to twitch.  Her mouth moved as if to speak, but nothing came out.  Her eyebrows raised, lowered, then raised again.  It was like watching one of those old cola commercials where Michael Jackson morphs into a panda that turns into a lizard that winds up being the moon.

            Finally, heaving an enormous sigh, and eyeing my head like a roadkill somebody brought in for grooming, she spoke…”You….you’ve got a lot of things going on here,” she shuddered.  “You’ve got…well, you’ve got this great big gap right up here in front.  It looks like somebody tried to cut your bangs with a meat cleaver.  And the sides.  Well, they’re, well…. uneven.  Like maybe an inch-and-a-half to two inches difference.  She shook her head sadly.  “I won’t ask who did this to you.”

            “Ummm,” I mumbled.  “See, there was this article, “ ‘How to Cut Your Own Bangs…’ ”

            “Oh, THAT,” she snorted.  “I saw that piece.  Hah!  What a joke!  I just couldn’t believe that a national magazine could be crazy enough to publish something so ridiculous.  What in the world were they thinking?  I mean, what about potential lawsuits?  Matter of fact, when I saw that, I asked myself ‘Now what kind of a moron would actually be dumb enough to….  Oh, sorry.”

            I told her I had also demonstrated the technique to a visiting friend.  Who couldn’t wait to get back home to share it with her mah-jong buddies.  Rolling her eyes, the stylist mumbled something about Typhoid Mary, and went to work on my head.

            I had to hand it to her.  Although her chances for complete success had been thwarted by my efforts, my hair turned out surprisingly well.  She told me it would be at least two months before my self-inflicted styling would blend in, but in the meantime, while I was certainly no Winslet/Fonda clone, at least I didn’t look like one of those dummy heads that student hairstylists practice different techniques on.

            So my advice is to find a nice, youthful hairstyle, but be sure to leave your head in the hands of a specialist.

            Your Wardrobe

            Peruse the contents of your closet and choose something that says, “Yes!  I am incredibly together, yet with a refreshing, childlike sense of joie de vivre.  I trust my innate sense of style.”  Ahhh…perfect!  A kicky skirt.  Knee-skimming, but not too short.  And a stylish knit top to tuck in!  A narrow leather belt will be the perfect finishing touch!

            Now slip into your chosen ensemble.  What’s that?  Can’t slip into it?  It seems the entire ensemble, including belt, has mysteriously shrunk while hanging in the closet?  Not to worry!  There are still plenty of great outfit possibilities hanging there.

            Choose another ensemble.  Holy Cow!  This one has shrunk too!  And this one!

            Rats!  Must be the humidity!

            Finally, as you stand knee deep in rejected skirts, tops, belts, and slacks, you spot it.  The perfect outfit.  Why hadn’t you noticed it before?  A nice pair of stretch leggings with a knee-length tunic to cover all those little “trouble spots” that span the entire length of your body from neck to knees.  A pair of nubby socks teamed with your favorite sneakers completes the look.  Voila!  You’re now ready to face the world.  And the first place you need to go is…shopping!

            When shopping for clothes, follow the same mirror-avoidance techniques explained earlier.  If you must look at yourself, at least wait until you are fully clothed.

            Also remember that normal sizing no longer holds true.  Sizes marked “medium,” or with a number, such as “size 14,” are now being sewn by women without hips living in places like Guatemala, who think a large woman is one weighing over 70 pounds.

            A Word Of Warning:  Even though you are just fine and dandy, thank you very much, about your current age, complete strangers are willing and eager to helpfully remind you of your advancing years on a regular basis.

            My personal favorite is the young checkout clerk who, eyeing the adult beverages in my shopping cart, always announces in a loud, clear voice, “Hey, Carl!  Do you think maybe I should check her ID?  Ha ha ha!”

            I am immediately overcome with the same urge to maim or kill that I feel whenever I am within earshot of one of those “singing bass” plaques.

            When people start directing this type of condescending comment your way, you’ll know it’s time for…

Your Midlife Crisis

            Comedian Rita Rudner said that male menopause is a lot more fun than female menopause.  In female menopause you gain weight and have hot flashes.  In male menopause you get to drive hot cars and date young girls.

            My question is:  Why?  Why should men be the only ones entitled to make complete idiots of themselves when youth takes a hike?  They’ve already had enough perks.  I mean, they got to skip childbirth, right?

            Women, claim your power!

            Dig out those fishnet hose, fake eyelashes, and spike heels, and wear them proudly!  When seated next to some hunky young stud on public transportation, pull a copy of Bridget Jones’ Diary out of your purse and read all the racy parts aloud.

            Quit your secure 9-to-5 job with the great benefits and 401-k plan and answer that ad for “raising earthworms for fun and profit!”  After all, you always knew you were an entrepreneur at heart!

            Run off with the pool guy.  If you don’t have a pool, then run off with the Roto Rooter man.

            Yes, ladies.  It’s never too late for adventure.  You’ve come of age and a whole new world awaits you.  So go for it!

            Me, I think I’ll take a nap.



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