I’ve always thought I looked and felt younger than I
Well, those days are gone. This past summer — ghastly
as it was, in oh so many ways — hastened along the aging process in,
well, oh so many ways.
Along about the sixth or seventh day following the
derecho disaster, both my knees suddenly went kerflooey. And by
“suddenly,” I mean that one hour I was sadly tossing big bags of spoiled
food into the Dumpsters, and the next hour, I could barely limp back
One of my knees has been tricky for a couple of years,
since I took a flying leap across the stage and made a wrong turn in
mid-air. I’ve always gone for the comedy and, indeed, the audience
laughed. I did not.
Since then, I’ve compensated quite nicely, counting on
the good knee. Now, the good knee is worse than the original bad knee.
When you only have two knees, there’s no more compensating.
Along about that time, I looked in the mirror one
morning and thought, Gads; what the heck happened? Wrinkles — yes, let’s
call them what they are — had suddenly appeared where there were none
the night before.
I’ve often joked that my secret to looking young is
this: A layer of fat plumps out wrinkles and actually gives the skin a
dewy appearance. Well, the layer of fat is still there; it just ain’t so
smooth any longer.
Women are lucky; we can mask many flaws with
cosmetics. Men cannot; yet, on the other hand, men can possess “craggy
good looks.” Men can be “ruggedly handsome.” A man might be called a
“dashing silver fox.” Gray-haired women who take good care of themselves
can only be called “cougars,” once they’re out of earshot.
(And speaking of earshot, well, my auditory
capabilities are fading fast, too.)
Back to the cosmetics. I couldn’t wait to be allowed
to buy and use them in my teens. During the college years, going “back
to nature” was in fashion. Then came Key West, where makeup was a joke:
Why put it on when the heat and humidity would simply slide it off? For
years, a little lipstick was all I relied upon, or needed.
When I moved to San Francisco, the cosmetic-buying
craze kicked in big time. I don’t want to know how much I spent to look
absolutely fabulous and urbane.
When I moved back to the mountains, I got “back to
nature” yet again. I would not leave the house without earrings and
lipstick, but further adornments were unnecessary. Nowadays, I find I
must add eyeliner to the mix. Eyeliner is something heretofore alien to
me. It requires a steady hand and good eyesight. Oops. I’ve learned to
keep the Q-tips handy.
In Key West, I was always dressed to stop traffic.
Indeed, a girlfriend and I once caused an accident while biking to the
beach in our bikinis. In San Francisco, I wore the requisite gray
flannel suit, pink blouse, and heels. The only time I’d be seen in
sneakers was pounding the pavement on my way to work. Besides, if an
earthquake struck during the day, it would be wise to have a pair of
sneakers handy in your desk drawer. Navigating glass and rubble in heels
is pure folly.
Ah, I do love my fabulous, eye-catching shoes. I’ve
probably collected 87 pairs of them through the decades. Nowadays, they
languish in the closets.
I searched far and wide for attractive orthopedic
shoes. They do not exist. And I must ask, why not? Many items for the
elderly — and I must face the fact that I am — are now geared toward us,
the aging Baby Boomers. Consider the snappy new array of decorated
canes, for instance. I will order as soon as I find a black one
festooned with pink flamingos.
So come on, you savvy shoe designers and
manufacturers. We don’t want to settle for sturdy laced oxfords in black
or brown, period. We may be old, but we don’t do dowdy. We’re out there,
just waiting. And we’ve got plenty of money to spend. Give us emerald
green; tempt us with turquoise; promise us pink; zing us with a snazzy
zebra print. And instead of a matching purse, offer a matching cane