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Monday, December 30, 2013

twenty from the back...

Wow. Two blog titles involving ellipses out of the last three.  That's some damn lazy writing right there.

Blog readers, this is one of those posts I owe you from like six weeks ago that I'm just getting around to now.  Any day now we'll be all caught up. Maybe. I'm just saying, if I wrote and published this six weeks ago when it first started germinating in my brain, the too many ellipses in too few days problem would have been null, okay?

So.  Six or seven weeks ago, right before the birthday on which I turned 51, I was at my friend M2's house, and talk turned to aging blah blah. M2 is approximately 18 years older than I am but she is not an Old Person.  Not saying that anyone would look at M2 and say "OMG! I thought she was 40!"  I mean M2 is thin and perky, but she's also wrinkled and gray-haired.  What makes her not an Old Person is her mind and her attitude. To illustrate, the reason that we know each other is that we went to massage school together. Since we started that endeavor in 2005, if you do the math you'll see that she started massage school after the age of sixty. Anyone who goes back to school at the age of 60 to learn a whole new line of work is not someone who is, or ever will be, an Old Person.  M2 has friends of many different ages. M2 has varied interests and is in tune with the cultural zeitgeist.  M2's grandchildren are happy to hang out with her and she didn't even flip out when her eldest granddaughter went to live in India.  (I'd kinda flip out if a child or grandchild of mine went to live in India. That episode of Seinfeld is burnt into my brain, yo.)

I told M2 she is in fact one of my aging role models.  If she's almost twenty years older than I am and she's not an Old Person, then I have hope for myself. Because I don't want to be an Old Person.  I don't want to be stodgy, stuck in my ways, conservative, and disapproving. (Failing on that last one already. You should have heard the rant I went on after I was stuck on the commuter rail with a bunch of drunken 20-somethings coming back from the Kanye West show. OMG, all those girls in skirts that barely cover their asses and 5 inch heels they can't walk in.  No, honey, you do NOT look sexeh and klassy, you look like a streetwalker. Just stop.  See?  That's an Old Person rant right there.)

M2 was flattered and tickled that I consider her a role model.  And somewhere in that conversation she said something about how you just didn't want to be one of those women who look good from the back but cause you to cringe in surprise and semi-horror when they turn around. "OMG! OMG!" I said. "I have a name for that phenomenon: twenty from the back, sixty from the front!"  You see it not-totally-infrequently in the oh-so-very-klassy environs where I live.  A skinny woman in very tight jeans from the juniors department, usually sporting long bleached blond hair and accessorized with a Dunkin Donuts coffee cup and a cigarette, who looks like she just might be a hottie until she turns around and...oh. She's 30 years older than you thought she was and those thirty years have not been particularly kind.

I worry about reaching that corner. Well, without the shopping at Forever 21, the cigs, and the blond hair. I'm standing at the precipice and looking down.  I wear jeans and hoodies. My hair is below my shoulders and three weeks outta any given month, you can't see my grays.  And because I work out a lot, my body doesn't look like what most people assume a 50 year old woman's body is going to look like.  But if some 25 year old guy is checking out my butt in the Dunkin Donuts line, unless he's got a serious GILF fetish boy's gonna be pretty damn disappointed when I turn around.  I hate the thought of that happening. I mean, not that I'm interested in picking up children.  See: drunken-Kanye-fans rant.  I just hate the thought that someone would think I'm trying to look 20 and failing horribly.  I keep feeling like I need to telegraph my middle-agedness (haha) more obviously.  The last time I talked about that in here (the George Thorogood post) someone who has a stake in it told me vehemently that NO, I should not cut my hair, that it's pretty. And I'm kinda not ready to go gray until it's all gray.

So I should probably change how I dress.  Sadly, M2 cannot be my role model in this.  She dresses in a very casual, outdoorsy style, all fleeces and cargo pants or jeans with, like, Keens. Picture a perky 60-something year old in a Patagonia catalog. Totally appropriate, right? Not too stodgy, not matronly, but not too young.  But not me. At least, not me all the time, or me head-to-toe.  Sometimes I can and will do what I think of as "massage therapist drag" but sometimes I have the need to tuck my jeans into boots and wear some kind of Anthropologie boho nutjob top.  Sometimes I leave the house in yoga pants and UGGs. Sometimes I wear tight little cardigans with my jeans.  And sometimes I wear a fake leopard fuzzy coat that makes me look like someone's crazy Aunt Matilda.  M2 may have varied interests, but I have varied sartorial tastes and they're not all sane or probably, strictly speaking, appropriate.  It's times like these that I need a teenaged daughter to tell me when I really look like a douchebag.

Though I have to say, the other day a young woman in the CVS parking lot opened her car door to tell me how cute my UGG cardy boots are, so maybe a teenaged daughter would just encourage my worst instincts. I dunno.

Being the dear friend that she is, after that conversation M2 sent me a birthday card saying that I'm still twenty from the back, twenty from the front.  Your friends will lie to you, y'know?

Readers: tell me. What should a woman in her 50s be wearing if she can't carry off Full Patagonia Catalog



  1. I dunno. Since I hang onto my clothes until they fall apart, and major in Comfortable Sturdy Cotton, at sixty I'm still wearing a lot of what I was wearing in my forties. (And thinking of what's in the back of the closet that doesn't get to go out much, even my thirties.)
    I did disapproval so much better in my twenties.

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

  2. ahhh this post! I am 46 and think of this "20 from the back 60 (46) from the front" thing more often than I probably should. Right now I am wearing a sweater dress that is about a hand's width above my knees, with tights and flat-heeled boots. Age appropriate? I don't know, but it's comfy and warm and looks sharp (I think) and my teenage daughter has not called me out on it. I'm pretty sure (I hope?) she'd call me on my fashion disasters.

  3. No help here--I'm all jeans and t-shirts and hoodies and not likely to change into polyester stretch pants any time soon.

    But I've thought about this too, it's almost like working out and aging is considered some sort of "false advertising." But then I'm all "fuck those imaginary people who might come up from behind and then judge me for not living up to their ass-based expectations. Who the hell cares what they think?" And heck, for those coming from the other direction, I'm a 53-from-the-front, 30ish from the rear, not that they're gonna turn around and look, but I like to think that's a good thing, not something to feel self-conscious about.

  4. Mary Anne, Comfortable Sturdy Cotton sounds like a variation on Full Patagonia Catalog which, like I said, I think is always age-appropriate.

    kllyprry, I think your outfit sounds lovely!

    Crabby, yes!!! about the false advertising. That's kinda at the root of this. There's a societal expectation that as we age we're all going to put on A LOT of weight and get WAY out of shape and if we don't, somehow we're letting down the side. Plus obviously we're vain, narcissistic assholes who think of nothing but our abzzzzz. (Note: I may well be an asshole but I am not narcissistic. And I think about lots of things besides my abzzzzz. Like, who was the first person who decided to eat a raw oyster? And why is the vitamin E "oil" I bought from CVS actually a gel? And how did some girl born in 1991 who wrote one of the most godawful pieces of stupid tripe fiction I've ever had the misfortune to read get a seven book deal with a reputable publisher?)

  5. I am yoga pant, jean and t-shirt wearing getting closer to 50 years old. Wait, did I just type that? I am pretty conservative in dress, but that has always been my way and will probably continue.