Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Old Times

It was lunchtime at Bellini's, a Harry's Bar wannabe in Cleveland, Ohio. I don't recall whether it was business or pleasure or who I was meeting, but I remember having to wait, always a good excuse for alcohol. I'm normally a sapphire-gin-and-tonic-two-limes person, but this time, I'd gone for the girly drink: one of Bellini's eponymous slushy peach cocktails. I glanced above the bar at the TV, on mute and tuned to an ancient rerun of Mayberry RFD. And then my head exploded.

No, it was not brain freeze from the frozen bellini. It was the stunning revelation that I looked older than Andy Griffith.

We all have our Andy Griffith moments, those holy-shit-am-I-really-that-old awareness flashes. Anything can trigger one, from catching an unexpected glimpse of your reflection to dealing with some horrendous, life altering problem and wondering how did I get here? (Cue Talking Heads). Any way, your age is your age. You can let it trip you out or you can shrug it off. Or, I suppose, you can lie.

I recently saw the profile of a childhood acquaintance on a social media site. She lists her age as ten years younger than my sister. Who, in turn, is four years younger than me. Which would make this lady (yes, math face, this was a test) fourteen years younger than yours truly. I'd be jealous but for the fact that, back when we were in school together, our age difference was only three months. I don't get this. Fourteen years is hard to pull off. People from your past know your real age. And personally, I would rather have people say I look "good for my age" than exclaim "Oh my God what happened to HER?"

Now, money is the great equalizer and Madonna has plenty of it. She is throwing massive amounts of cash at preserving her hotness. She has incredible hulk veins from excessive working out. Her forehead is smooth and shiny as Olympic ice. Bony spurs have sprouted beneath her eyes. I think they are supposed to be cheekbones. The poor thing has to work so hard to work it, you almost feel sorry for her. Madonna, here's a little creative direction for you. Take a step back and stop art directing yourself. Get back in touch with your original spontaneous, brash Italian self. Wear elegant cocktail dresses. Tone down the makeup. Eat some pasta and gain twenty pounds. Be real. Be entertaining. Have ideas and opinions or you will fast become an immaterial girl. As a performer, you are at an age where you either have substance or you start to come off like the drag version of your former self.

Yes, folks, we're all on the same subway – some of us got on early and some just two stops back. Fading isn't fun. No woman likes to look in the mirror and see her mother staring back. No man enjoys throwing his back out performing some heretofore routine task. And whatever your gender, having to wear reading glasses really sucks. So yeah, you can throw money at plastic surgeons and personal trainers and colorists and aestheticians and that may work for a while. Just try to maintain some perspective. Think about charitable things your money could do. Remember your bucket list. Wouldn't you rather cross off Tibet than have a tummy tuck? Take a long hard look at Joan Rivers and see if you don't get a little queasy. (Which isn't to say it doesn't suck to age out of, say, your staple clothing stores. I remember thinking The Limited and Express would get me through the rest of my natural life. Now, I don't even go in those stores: I rely on J. Jill and Chicos and hope to God I don't look like Michael Phelps' mother.)

Life, unless you're very lucky, gives you perspective on the vanity thing. A father with a troubled teen isn't too preoccupied with his own bald pate. A middle-aged mom doesn't tend to focused on the size of her butt when her own mother starts to show signs of Alzheimer's. Cliches like "Count your blessings" and "As long as you have your health" start to sound like the wisdom of the ages (or maybe the aged). The latest wrinkle on your face may be annoying, but rarely more so than the latest wrinkle in your life.

For the record, I meant THIS Andy Griffith...

Not THIS one. And no, I won't tell you my age, but I ain't lying about it either.

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