“Any birthday is preferable to the alternative, dear daughter.”
This from my mother when I called her to bellyache about my upcoming “big day.” I’d hoped for a little sympathy since I’m turning forty … something. (You thought I’d tell didn’t you? I bet you think Brittany’s getting her kids back, too.) But no, she took a hard line when I complained about my smile lines and demanded I consider my crow’s feet from the French perspective. Puhleeze.
(The French, for those of you who’ve yet to be treated to this fountain of youth factoid, consider forty the old age of youth, and fifty the youth of old age. I consider a bottle of wine and a baguette at each meal thought muddying. But that’s just me.)
Desperate to forget my crinkly eyes, wrinkled brow, and the parentheses punctuating my mouth, I raced into my Jazzercise class. I would not go gently into that good night. I would disco, disco against the dying of the light!
At least that was the plan until the class manager greeted me with the words, “Susan, you expired yesterday.”
So that accounts for my sudden, overwhelming urge to lie prone in something pine.
Ninety-two bucks later my membership was renewed (delaying, by the miracle of modern checking, my expiration by muscle atrophy—not to mention Juvederm overdose—for another two months), and I dashed from the Jazzercise center to the eye doctor. Something was wrong. Very wrong. Things were fuzzy, out of focus. I actually had trouble writing out my check; not an affliction I’ve ever suffered from no matter how many novenas my husband’s made.
I was freaking when I plopped down in the big chair, eye-balled the big E, and cried, “Doc, I think it’s the big C.” To which my wonderful optometrist (who just happens to have a whole Owen Wilson in “You, Me, and Dupree” thing happening which cracks me up, which in turn makes him say “Please sit still,” every two seconds, which ultimately proves that yes, you can only be young once but you can be immature forever) replied, “Relax, Susan. It’s not cataracts. You’re just ready for readers.”
What’s next? A spot in assisted living?
Oh no, way worse: a birthday greeting from the AARP. That’s right; I returned from Dr. Dupree’s still crying over the bright blue Peepers stuffed in my pocketbook only to discover I needed them to read my mail. There, placed squarely in the center of the kitchen table by the thoughtful old man I married (and topped off by a jumbo-sized bottle of Geritol he just couldn’t resist buying his child bride), was a postcard and introductory issue of the one publication no one willingly subscribes to: AARP Magazine. Who’s on the cover? Jack Nicholson. Like the prospect of turning fifty isn’t frightening enough.
Of course the really scary thing is that I actually don’t hit the big five-oh for…awhile. (You thought I’d tell, didn’t you? I bet you thought the Giants would hand the Pats a perfect season, too.) And yet all this stuff is happening now.
Wrinkles. Readers. Late night hot flashes that leave me so soaked Mr. Geritol swears it’s like sleeping with a sopping wet sponge. Bizarre life insurance solicitations that scream “Don’t Leave Your Loved Ones in the Lurch!” and slick, four-color brochures pitching gated golf course communities (with on-site nursing care, no less) make me wonder: is the universe trying to tell me something?
And if it is, maybe I should simply go deaf. It works when my husband’s moaning about the Mastercard bill, so it should do the trick on the bullies from the AARP.
They can’t have me. Not now, and not in the future. I don’t care if they send me free issues, vitamin samples, or a complimentary Prada purse. (Please don’t send a Prada purse. Please don’t send a Prada purse.)
No, I’ll never capitulate, not even to couture. Unless of course they come across with a pair of Blahnik’s. And then my birthday will really mean Jack. Not to mention Manolo.