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Saturday, December 27

Oh Yes, A Change is Gonna Come

Getting old is positively stunning, in the true sense of the word---as in being knocked sideways by a gun of the stun variety. You look in the mirror every day of your life for years, taking for granted that when you do so, you will see yourself, and you do; so you feel pretty secure about the process. And then one day, without any warning whatsoever, you look in that same mirror, expecting to see that same face, and what do you find? You find this old person looking back at you with a baleful state. Upon closer inspection, you discover it to be you----in an old-lady suit, which has apparently permanently affixed itself to your person.

You've got old-lady hair. It's going gray and the texture of it is no longer hair like but more like string or perhaps straw that the cat has seen fit to suck on all day. Your skin has turned against you somehow; indeed, it seems it would crawl completely off your frame if possible. It feels like snakeskin actually. If only it might split open and allow you to crawl off in a shiny new skin, leaving the old dried-up husk to crisp in the sun. But no, in it you just remain.

You gaze in horror at some formerly familiar body part----your arm, for instance---and notice with a shudder that when you bend it as you have done a million times a day for your entire life with no ill effect, the skin ripples and wrinkles in a bizarre fashion. Whose arm is that hanging from your body? you ask. And have you looked at your knees lately? Don't even bother. Just trust me---it's bad.
Moles have started to reproduce themselves at will all over your body but show a particular fondness for your chest, neck and back. One might be considered a "beauty mark:; one thousand and you've moved past overkill----it's distracting, at best. And, I note happily, moles now come in many shapes, sizes, and colors. I'd have to say that skin-tag types are my favorites.....right up there with the ones that overnight grow a six-to seven inch hair smack in the middle of 'em.

And, of course, your eyesight is so bad you might easily go several entire days before you realize you have got this long------usually black---hair sticking straight out of the side of your face. You normally don't see it yourself; someone else---a small, very loud child in the checkout line or your ex-husband's new child-bride or possibly, the worst-case scenario, your very own boyfriend will notice it and give it a little tug.

One of the reasons your eyesight is so poor is that your upper eyelids are spending most of their time hanging down into your actual line of sight instead of perching up there about your eyes displaying eye shadow, the way nature intended.

There seem to be two choices (or rather destinies for who would actively choose either one); You turn out to be one of those stringy, beef-jerky-looking old ladies or you're fat.

Let me address the under forty readers here for just a moment. First of all, you should know that, in my humble opinion, you are mere lava. It's a wonder you even have all your hands and feet. You really can't fathom this right now----I know because I remember......but you are a baby and you should not be out loose running around unsupervised. Trust me, nearly every choice you're making today is the wrong one, but take heart. Crazy as it sounds, it's apparently what you are supposed to be doing----nobody does it any different. And the consequences of all the stupid crap you are doing today, which you will regret, will make you a fabulous woman is just a few short years!

Go look in the mirror right this second. I know, you think you're a mess. But hey, listen to me! If you are under forty, you are a precious, darling girl, and you should put on the skimpiest garment you can legally wear in public and commence prancing around in it night and day because I promise that in about ten years, you are going to look back at photographs of yourself and say, "My Gawd---I was perfect!" What was I thinking? If I looked like that today, I would rule the world!I was thinking about that just the other day. If I had had any sense of how very adorable I was back then, I would have run naked down the middle of the street. So, honeychile, you ain't never gonna look this good again in your life, and you'd better be making that hay while the sun is shining 'cause I am here to tell you that a change is gonna come!

Now, while you're appreciating your current cuteness, run out and have your picture taken---the one you will want used in your obituary, especially if you plan on living a whole lot longer. You see it all the time in the paper'; an obit with a picture of a winsome lass with a fetching smile and a devilish twinkle in her eye---a sweet young thing. When you read the obit to find out how someone so young was snatched from this good earth in such an untimely fashion, you learn that she was actually ninety-seven years old when she died. Trust me, you could drag your picture behind you car and leave it out in he rain and sun for two years, and it would fare better than you will in the aging process. Getting old is the rudest awakening will will ever have: It is the ultimate slap in the face with a wet squirrel.

You are probably anticipating aging with some degree of humor and.....denial. Oh, I know all about that. My best bud, Jana O'dell, and I used to plan ---when we were fifteen---how we would dye our hair blue. We would wear cinnamon-colored hose with reinforced heels and toes and roll them down at the knees. We would wear polyester short-sleeved, round-necked dresses that we had made ourselves. Mine was to be "a lovely shade of turquoise with patch pockets of royal blue" (all this is from an actual note we exchanged in the he ninth grade, which I still have). Our shoes would be those stretchy gold metallic things with the toes that curl up, which come in a bag in the sock department. We would take up smoking and keep one cigarette burning in an astray and one hanging off our lower lip at all time, especially while we're taking to it would kind of flop up and down and sling ashes all over. we would have deep raspy, whiskey-sounding voices and we would yell a lot and be real crabby all the time and scream at the neighborhood kids to get out of your yards. We would have our hair ratted up professionally once a week and never comb it otherwise, and wrap our heads in toilet paper and put on big hair nets at night. We would wear glasses---thick, ugly ones----whether we needed them or not, with silver chains attached to keep them hanging around our necks when not in use. Our homes would be filled with ugly ceramic souvenirs and brightly painted statues of children with big eyes and small dogs. We would find useless items made from two-liter Coke bottles, coat hangers, and yarn to be wildly irresistible, and we would cover our furniture with clear plastic to "save" it.

Yes, we planned to do all this when we turned the ripe old age of forty.......knowing, as we did with the infinite wisdom that is the exclusive domain of the the incredibly young, that life would be completely over by then, anyway, so why not? My fortieth birthday was.....well, it was a some years back and I don't feel any different from the way I did at fifteen when I wrote that note to Jana. That's what's so madding about getting old: You still feel young and cute!

You know all those songs that exhort you to "shake your money-maker"? Listen to'em and shake while the shaken' is good because your entire body will turn into a veritable money pit before you can say "bilateral blepharoplasty" or even "eye job," for that matter. My advise to you is to go out and buy the cheapest clothes---- don't waste a penny on cosmetics. Oh, Lord, pre-forty, you can wash your face with Tide and use Vaseline for moisturizer, toss on a little mascara and lip gloss, and you look like you're a friggin' cover girl. Those of us on the slippery slope that is the Other Side of Forty can testify-----those days days are so over. Save your money. Consider it a trust fund for your old self, because trust me, it cost the proverbial shitload of money to maintain an old lady. Course there is an upside to getting older: You stop taking yourself so gawd-darn seriously.

Happy Trails!

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