I have a birthday coming up in a couple of days.
Is this fact making me jump for joy screaming the silly word, “Yay!”?
It has me pelting out a blood curling “Noooooo!!!” followed by a round of expletives, so colorful, I have leprechauns lined up on my doorstep asking if the rainbow ends here.
My mind wanders as I recall how already, at the age of ten, I knew I would not be one of those women who were content to age gracefully.
I have Aunt Manuela to thank for that.
One summer, while visiting Spain, we were invited to her home for lunch.
When she opened the door to greet us, the only thing that stifled my gasp, was a hard pinch from my mother.
I was shocked to see the oldest, most wrinkled face I’d ever seen.
And it was scary. Really scary.
On our way home, I asked my mother how old Aunt Manuela was, and she replied “Oh, she’s only 65.”
For a ten year old, this was clearly an age when people should be mummified and placed in museums, in areas surrounded by thick, velvet ropes.
Visitors would have to pay an entrance fee to see something this old, this prehistoric; old enough to have witnessed dinosaurs roaming the earth.
This mentality continued, and at the age of fifteen, I thought anyone over 19 was ancient.
At the age of twenty, I thought anyone over 25 was over the hill.
At the age of 25, I thought anyone over 30 deserved government-funded health insurance.
At the age of 30, I thought anyone over 40 was decrepit and should start drafting up a will.
And now, well, lets just say I think anyone over 40 is looking a hell of a lot better than anyone over 50.
Yes, the witnessing of Aunt Manuela ensured I was equipped to fight aging every step of the way.
And that’s exactly what I’ve done since the age of ten.
I’ve slathered on lotions and potions to keep my skin moisturized, soft, and smooth.
I’ve applied eye creams, face creams, neck creams, breast creams, cellulite creams, lightening creams, spot removing creams, firming creams, and any other cream you can think of.
I’ve visited the dentist to make sure my gums are not receding and I don’t require gum surgery so new tissue can adhere to the teeth; thereby reducing the appearance of being “long in the tooth.”
I’ve dyed my hair religiously to camouflage the stray grays that are dead bent on making an appearance even though they’ve been told repeatedly they’re not welcome–ever.
I’ve looked at my face in a magnifying mirror every other day, searching for premature wrinkles.
I’ve recorded my voice on tape at different times, to see if I’m getting an “old lady voice.”
I’ve checked out my butt in the mirror, fearful that it may no longer be perky, and instead, sag like a deflated hot air balloon.
I’ve abstained from talking to men younger than 25 in public so as not to risk hearing the word, “Cougar!” shouted at me by someone in a moving car.
And I’ve monitored my neck diligently to make sure it’s not transforming into a jowl.
Now before you judge, let me just say you did not see Aunt Manuela at the age of ten.
I was the one who was scarred for life.
I’m the one who’s been suffering from post traumatic stress disorder for God knows how many years.
Me. Not you.
So don’t judge.
Some of us, ahem, were we to wear red lipstick, would look like middle-aged frumpsters playing make up whilst wearing old, stretched out Rolling Stones T-shirts and gray sweats.
Some of us have to worry that everything other than the size of our ass is thinning.
And so, I patiently wait for the Son to finish brushing his teeth so we can perform “the ritual.”
“Do I still have to participate, or have you reached the maturity level where you can do this on your own? Please tell me it’s the latter.”
“This is a two-person skit, you know that. Besides, need I remind you that carrying you for nine months is what gave me stretch lines and a belly flap? You owe me.”
“I’ve been paying off that debt since the day I learned to say the word ‘beautiful’.”
“And you’ll continue to do so until my taut and stretch line-free stomach returns.”
“In other words, till you die? Whatever. Lets get this over. But first, here’s a thought. Why doesn’t the Significant Other play my role this year?”
“Because I didn’t carry him in my belly for nine months. Chop, chop!”
“I think you should just bring the mirror back from exile. I’m too old for this crap.”
“The faster you say it, the faster you’ll be able to leave.”
“Hurry up and start then!”
“Handsome Son, Handsome Son, standing in the entry hall. Who’s the most beautiful mom of all?”
“You’re the most beautiful mom of all. Now go slather on some wrinkle cream.”
“Next year–same time, same place, babe.”
“Hopefully I’ll have moved out by then.”
I smile as I reach for the wrinkle cream.
This fight isn’t over yet.