Friday, November 24, 2006

Mature Reflections on Aging

A few months ago, my friend and I went to a little indoor, glow-in-the-dark miniature golf place that I love. It's Day-Glo inside with psychedelic decor and reminds me of a bar without the alcohol. Also, I developed an addiction to mini golf a few years back but only inside. Outside I find it really boring but I love this indoor place because there's great music and the holes have banks, so I feel more like I'm playing pool than golf because I'm banking most of my shots. And two years ago, I was the only female who qualified for a tournament at this place, and at the time there was a very handsome charming young manager who spent a lot of time with me.

Moving along, as my friend Anna would say, and returning to the subject of aging. My friend Cathie and I played our game of golf and I did better than her but being the thoughtful, sensitive person that I am, I subtracted a few points from her score so she wouldn't feel hopelessly depressed at the end of the game since it was her first time playing and I didn't want her experience of being deflowered to be unpleasant.

As we were leaving, one of the twentysomething kids who works there, and who I talk to all the time, was chatting with us. Cathie looked up at the sign above the cash, which said that seniors received discounts and that a senior was someone who was 55 years or older. Much to my dismay, Cathie volunteered the fact that she was over 55 and the twentysomething woman by the name of Andrea says, "No! You guys can't be over 55?" Cathie replies, "Yes" and I shout NO, NO, NO and point to Cathie and not me, although I'll be 54 in December, but don't tell anyone. I'm sure that when I do become 55, I will continue to argue with people and be happy to pay full price up until the age of 82 or so rather than having someone call me a senior.

How we feel with the passing of each decade and how differently society treats us is an issue that has preoccupied me since I turned 40. I made it one of the themes of my novel and am quoting a few passages from D'Amour Road here to give you a better idea why I like the song Forever Young. My main character, who is 39, is just leaving the apartment of a 25-year-old guy who she's fallen for. She is headed for the parking lot, feeling old.

As I was walking towards my car, I took off my jacket because the weather had turned humid. A scruffy looking pair of men walked past me. One had an unruly beard and the other had a leer on his face.
"Nice tits!" The second guy grinned at me.
"Up yours," I replied automatically. They both laughed. I walked faster to get away from them and put my jacket back on. I was annoyed, offended and repulsed, but I’m ashamed to admit that I felt vaguely flattered and pleased to have been noticed.
WAR (my women's collective) would consider me to be a lost cause, but I couldn't help but ask myself how many more years of sexual harassment I had left before I became completely invisible. Sheila and Diane often joked that one of the few benefits of being close to sixty was that they didn't have to deal with men whistling, calling them lewd names, and attempting to grope them on the street.
Once, I heard Germaine Greer on a talk show, saying that she’d lost her sex drive after menopause, and felt relieved not to be at the mercy of her hormones and desire anymore. Although my ardor for Alain had become painful, I definitely did not want to be "liberated" from it.

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