I Have Entered the Pleasant-Looking Lady Stage
It happened about three years ago. I was 55, so I had a good run. But it surprised me none the less. Up until that point, the attention I received from the men behind the grocery store meat counter was attentive. On that day, the vibe was different. More polite and less alert. I knew right away that I had crossed some sort of invisible line.
Like my father 35 years earlier. It was the morning of his 50th birthday. He was late for the bus. With what he thought was the agility of a young man, he ran alongside the bus and jumped on just as it was about to pull away from the curb. As he entered, his pleased-with-himself smile faded when a kid in the front row exclaimed: “The old man made it!”
And somehow I, too, had become old. Just like that. The men behind the meat counter used to linger. Now they didn’t. And it wasn’t because they were particularly busy that day. Something had changed. I was no longer linger-worthy.
It was at the time I lost my linger-worthiness that I realized I used to have it.
Wearing your hair long? You must be a communist
Growing up, I never paid too much attention to the way I looked. Three brothers and parents with a small-town mentality made sure I didn’t. If Freud was around he would probably say that being the only girl, I never had to compete for my father’s attention. The best way to get Mom’s attention was to be witty and smart. So that’s what I focused on. Speak fast. Think faster.
My mom was a natural beauty. She was tall and athletic with naturally wavy hair that she vigorously brushed using not one but two hairbrushes simultaneously. Frantic, fast brushing, bending at the waist with her head upside down until done. Then she’d snap back into an upright position — with rosy cheeks and with her short strawberry blond hair like a halo around her face. The procedure basically made up her entire haircare routine. Wash and wear with not even a hint of hairspray and vigorous brushing.
Mom wore her hair short because, according to her, no respectable woman over 30 would ever wear her hair long. Long hair on a mature woman was a sign of desperation — a frantic attempt at…