My grandmother was 94 when she died and her skin was just beautiful. The first thing that occurred to me when I saw her in the casket (sorry) was that she looked younger than when she was alive. That may be some sort of casket magic though, what with gravity and the, uh, stuff they do to make you less shocking-looking. Is it wrong to sit looking at your beloved dead grandmother and think god please let me have inherited the great skin but not the dementia?
I am sort of obsessed with age and death. (When you read that, I would like it to sound more Bergmanesque and less vain please.)
When I turned 40, I found myself announcing it with slightly inappropriate or at least unnecessary frequency, solely in the hope of getting someone to say I didn't look it. Just mentioning in passing that, yes, I'm 40. I turned 40, did I mention? I actually told a group of, well I'll call them acquaintances because they weren't total strangers, that when I turned 40, I needed to find a good hairdresser to give me a sharp, edgy new look because otherwise I always end up with a middle-aged haircut because I'm 40 and when I go to the hairdresser's they just see a 40-year-old sitting there.
Do I live in a far-off era where a woman mentions in passing that she is a shade over 22 and everyone gasps in disbelief and denies that such a thing is possible? Which when you think about it is slightly insulting. You are so old that we can't quite believe how old you are. You look quite ordinary but actually you are very very old. Who woulda thunk it?
To my immense and lasting displeasure no one else is living in this olden-days-tyme with me because I don't think anyone said that thing about how I couldn't possibly be 40. No one. Not a single person. I was secretly, silently crushed that no one expressed shock and denial even though I know that the whole thing is a little perverse and really doesn't represent what I like to think I stand for and even if I don't look 25 35 younger I'm perfectly normal looking. So what if I often while away a morning moment or two propping up parts of my face with my palms and deciding which bits (jowl winch/chin implant) to surgically alter.
What with all the not-working and not-earning and watching my productive years draining away, I am worried that one day I will look back and clearly see all the wasted time and bad decisions and regret my spinelessness and utter refusal to challenge myself. So on one hand: worried a bit about losing my youthful beauty.* On the other hand: quivering in helpless terror of the relentless march into regretful old age and miserable death. See!? - only a little vain but a lot worried, which means I'm brainy, right?
On yet another hand (cos who says you can only have two), taking stock of the staggering achievements of my middle years, there's no disputing that 1) I have finally succeeded in the eyebrow department - my eyebrows are beautifully shaped and reasonably symmetrical, despite the many years spent plucking the crap out of them - and 2) I make the perfect poached egg.** So time well spent then.
*Bonus - I was never very pretty to start with! Lemons + positive thinking = lemonade!
**There are three secrets. Go on, guess!