Recently I had a birthday. Birthdays, like annual mammograms, inevitably fall into the “good-news/bad-news” category. The great thing about having a birthday is that it means I’m not dead. The not-so-great thing about having a birthday is that it means I’m another year older, which if you look on the bright side circles back around to that “not-being-dead” thing.
But here’s the rub on trumping the Grim Reaper yet another year. After a woman hits her 40th birthday she enters that obtuse, nebulous age bracket better known as a woman of a certain age, whereas men just become distinguished.
For example, gray hair on a guy doesn’t deter his perceived hotness. On the contrary it links him to experience, making him seem like he’d be smart enough to remember a cornucopia of lady-approved important information ranging from where the good scissors go (same drawer they’ve been in for the last 20 years, dude) to my birthday (same date it’s been on for the last $%^# years, dude). Women love a man who’s figured out how and when to pay attention. So gray hair is a good indicator that he’s probably already gone through those growing pains by way of a woman who isn’t you.
On the other hand, people see gray hair on a woman and wonder why she left the nunnery. Or they assume she’s got her cats and handmade quilts to keep her company, so she has no reason to believe blonds (or brunettes or redheads) have more fun. Or that she’s not yet grown tired of people asking her what it was like to have seen Elvis perform live.
A Birthday Leads to Lies
Typically a woman of a certain age politely declines to say how old she is if asked…or she flat-out lies. In today’s youth-obsessed world either is acceptable. In fact, the only person who lies more than a woman does about her age, is a man who brags about how many times a week he has sex…unless he’s talking about with himself. The fact that it even comes up, his sex life that is, means he’s telling a big, fat fib.
Like most of my friends, I too am a woman of a certain age, and have been for a while. Once I passed that milestone birthday I had no interest in lying about my age, so I would freely give it when asked. No one batted an eye at the number I threw out, and all was good. But as I got older I started getting responses to my age like, “Wow, you look great.” At first I thought this was due to my snazzy sense of style. Or the pleasant mojo brought about by my discount fragrance. Or the fact that I had actually found time to wash my hair. Eventually, however, I realized the meaning behind these well-intended compliments once people started appending “…for your age” to the end of their sentences.
“You look good for your age.”
Really? Compared to what? The back end of a rhinocerous? A well-oiled baseball mitt? Keith Richards on a good day?
Seriously, that “…for your age” bit threw me. Can’t a woman look good at any age?
The Truth About Secrets
Then people started asking me “What’s your secret?”
My secret? You mean my investment strategies? Or how I’m able to expertly juggle a career as a writer and comic with abject poverty?
“No. What’s your beauty secret? How do you stay looking so young?”
First of all, I don’t think I look that young, especially if you catch me when I get up in the morning. Then I actually do look like the back end of a rhinoceros. Secondly, although there’s a lot you can do with the attributes you were born with, 85% of how anyone looks is due to genetics. And although I’d like to say I was smart enough to pick well-preserved parents, the truth is I live by the luck of the draw just like everybody else. And thirdly, I’m an extremely picky eater, just ask any person I’ve gone out to dinner with. And although it drives everyone nuts when I order off the menu, the fact that I haven’t had a donut (for example) in at least 15 years helps keep my rear end down to a manageable size.
So there is no secret, really. Other than water. I drink lots of water. Which means I go to the bathroom a lot. And trust me, that’s no secret to anyone who spends a minimum of an hour with me.
So how old did I actually turn on this last birthday? Well, Oscar Wilde once quipped, “Never trust a woman who reveals her true age.” That said, I’ll tell you…I’m a spry 102 years old.
Given that that puts me on par with an animated fossil, I suppose I would have to agree that yes, even though I just turned another year older, I do look pretty damn good…period.
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Stacy Dymalski is an award winning keynote speaker and stand-up comic who gave up the glamorous life of coach travel, smokey comedy clubs, and heckling drunks for the glamourous life of raising kids (who happen to be bigger hecklers than the drunks). This blog is her new stage. For more of Stacy’s comedy check out her book Confessions of a Band Geek Mom available in bookstores and on Amazon in paperback and Kindle.