Thursday, July 25, 2013

Fifty is the New, Um, Fifty

I tend to ponder over the meaning of chronological calendar age during my birthday month. As if this deliberation will bring new insight. Then I was watching Barefoot in the Park yesterday. Aside from observing that I was ten years old when the movie was released, I also took note of Mildred Natwick's (mother of Jane Fonda's newlywed bride) character, Ethyl. First there was the name. Ethyl. Nothing musical about that aside from perhaps how a catapulted piano might sound upon landing. Then there was her age, 52, a number I left in the dust some time ago. Ethyl sported a frumpy suit dress, matronly pumps and pearls and a sort of stern iron gray hairstyle reminiscent of stodgy British royalty. She suffered from ulcers for which she took little pink pills and slept on a board to remedy her back problems. Yes, I do realize that it's necessary for plot purposes for Ethyl's character to be frumpy and stodgy so she can later shed this demeanor due to the charming and reckless influence of attic resident Victor Velasco. And all the while the free-spirited Corie (Jane Fonda) is doing the same sort of number on her stuffed shirt new husband, Paul (Robert Redford). My point is, because I think I had one when I started typing, is that the 1960's version of 52 is quite different among my generation of women. A couple of years ago when dear sis Martine and I were looking through family photos, there was Grandma Esther and Grandpa Knut's formal portrait taken for their 25th wedding anniversary. Grandma's look is very similar to Ethyl's. Martine mused out loud, wondering how old she was at the time. I ran a quick mathematical routine through my brain and came up with 48. Then realized that my sis, sitting there in her curvy fitted capri pants, layered tank tops, smooth complexion, painted toenails and chin-length sweep of honey brown hair was also 48. Proving, I suppose, that it is less likely that the mature woman of today feels it necessary to conform to a certain look or demeanor. Which brings us to Monday evening when I met Jill for a beer downtown. Enter John and his thirsty, victorious baseball team. Who was attempting to suss out my age from the meager information available to him other than my appearance and attitude. I was amused. Normally I'm open about the number but was so entertained by his quandary I didn't give it up. I just smiled instead, relishing knowing that I am fully old enough to be his mother. I'm not interested in trying to pull off some charade of being younger or dressing in a manner that doesn't suit me. My preference is to embrace aging gracefully, inside who and what I am at this point in my life. Sometimes that means enjoying a beer and not divulging my age.


Li'l Sister said...

Wow! That doesn't even sound like me. Thanks!!

Bellona of Avalon said...

It IS you, babycakes! You're gorgeous!