I know I'm supposed to feel bad about turning 40, and I'm trying, but I just can't hide my excitement. I realize I should be spending my time searching the mirror for wrinkles, reading articles about how to look younger, and researching plastic surgeons but I've been too distracted by the feeling that I'm about to be crowned queen. The people around me are confused because I can't manage to look sad or worried when they bring it up. I think it's the lust-like excitement in my eyes that throws them. Even when I try to say things like "oh yeah, it's awful," it's as convincing as looking sad when the girl you're understudying for breaks her leg. To me, turning 40 is like being handed a certificate of authenticity. Some cultures don't name babies until they are a year old because their survival is so unsure. I'm really not sure I should have had a name before I was 40. I was so unsure of myself and spent so much time worrying about whether I should be different than I am that it was iffy whether I'd actually end up as myself or as something I, and everyone else, thought I should be.
Actually I became 40 when I was about 36. I couldn't wait for the glamour and power so I started lying. And the power of 40 was too intoxicating for me to stop. 40 gives such new and powerful meaning to so many things. For instance, when you're 20 or 30 wearing a skirt that's too short or wearing too much makeup screams "Look at me!." At 40 it bellows: "I don't give a flip what you think." A 20- or 30-year-old tries on a dress that doesn't fit and worries that they are too fat. 40-year-old tries on a dress that doesn't fit and wonders why any one would waste their time making such a crappy dress. 40 also gives me the credibility I need for people to believe me when I say I don't give a damn. The guys at the mail place by my house used to always try to up sell me on shipping, so I could "track my packages." They wouldn't stop until I finally said "Honey. I'm 40, I can't care about that." Not only did they stop, they gave me a look of reverence. And on top of all that, I get to call people "honey." It's also a very effective excuse for saying whatever I want. Whenever my husband is mad at me for saying something rude I can just tell him that my 40-year-old brain no longer has the capacity to edit its self. The fun doesn't stop there. The moment I let my gray hair show I became a magnet to young men. And when I try to get them to stop hitting on me by telling them I'm 40, it only makes them rev up their game. Suddenly they want to prove that they're worthy of me. I find myself having to let them down gently, trying to find a way to reassure them that they are worthy — I just love the guy I'm with. And should we ever break up, I now know three guys who want me to come looking for them at the Bear's Lair on the University of California at Berkeley campus. I make sure to tell the ones who aren't old enough to drink, not to wait for me.
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