Sunday, September 7, 2014

Spunk and Sass and All the Cleavage I Damn Well Please

An essay from my book, Freeing My Inner Blonde, available on Kindle.

I have a friend who just turned fifty. In nine short months, I will hit that mark myself. How do I feel about that? I told my husband I would like to be sitting on a beach in Hawaii come June. Then I thought of the reality of the poor guy sunning in the sand with a fifty-year-old. Not exactly every man’s dream. Hot or not, fifty is fifty. I think that’s what bothers me the most. I can do my best to take care of myself, to look great, to present a positive attitude, but no matter how hard I try, I will never be thirty. I won’t even be forty. Hard as I try to “look great,” those words will always be qualified by “for a fifty-year-old.”

My eyes are shit. I can never find my glasses. They are on my head. They are off my head. They are on top of the bookshelf, by the coffee pot, on the back deck, on the passenger’s seat in my car. I have to ask people to read fine print. Mostly I just avoid fine print.

I have a crepey d├ęcolletage. I used to sell products for that. At the time, I didn’t even know what crepey meant. It sounded gross and old. I felt sorry for the customer who had a crepey d├ęcolletage, like she had a disease or skin reaction. Now I AM that woman. I have wrinkly skin peeking down into my cleavage. That’s some kind of sexy. I caught part of a television program the other day. The goal was to give the trying-to-look-young fifty-year-old a more age-appropriate look. Among other things, she was told to never show cleavage again. I died a little inside. Where’s the fun in that? The host suggested wearing a pendant that dips suggestively into the area, offering a hint but never revealing. I want that product I used to sell.

My hair isn’t real. I know it’s gray. I don’t know how gray. I don’t color, but I do highlight all to heck. I am not sure exactly what color one would call it, but the goal is brownish with not very noticeable globs of red and striking hot pops of blond. It’s long. How old am I allowed to be before I have to cut it short? There are rules about these things. Gray hair is coarse and wiry and has a mind of its own. At least it has grown into its owner’s personality.

Honestly, though, despite the eyes, the hair, and the crepey cleavage, I feel better now than I have at any other point in my life. I eat beautiful, nutritious foods. I take long walks in nature. I get plenty of beauty sleep. I joke, and I play, and I latte, lunch, and laugh with friends. I love my life. I love my job. I love my family.

I have more energy now than I have had in forever.

I am having fun exploring my sensuality. It has been there all along. It has just been hidden behind frumpy clothes and a ponytail and an attitude that it is inappropriate for a married, mother of four to flirt, to throw out a seductive glance, to turn a head. I am enjoying writing on topics I once considered taboo. On the page, I can get sexy, provocative, alluring. I am finding it delightful, pushing fifty or not, to put forth my best Marilyn, both on and off the page. There is no greater joy in the world than catching a man’s attention. There is no greater joy than knowing I can turn a head.

How do I feel about turning fifty? If I drew a line down the middle of a big blank sheet of paper and titled one side, “YES!!!” and the other, “Oh, good Lord,” I would have to say that the joy of the “YES!!!” would far outweigh the agony of the “Blech.” Sure, I’ll never be thirty or forty again. But at thirty, I had three small children, no time to myself, was sick, exhausted, and forty pounds overweight. At forty, I had four children, popped anti-anxiety meds, and struggled to find the ME in the mom, the wife, the Sunday school teacher, the Girl Scout leader, the elementary school volunteer. At forty-nine, I dress in clothes that are free of spit up, of potty accidents, of too-much-birthday-party projectile puke. I eat my dinner warm and from MY plate. I shave both legs in the shower. I shower. I spend long afternoons at lunch and the movies with good friends. I spend entire weekends reading on the back deck. I pee alone. My body is not growing a baby, recuperating from growing a baby, or nourishing that baby. My body is my own now. My body is my own, and mostly, my time is my own.

How do I feel about turning fifty? I no longer feel the need to prove myself. I no longer feel the need for permission. I no longer care what others think of how I live my life. I am a big girl, and if I am good with my thoughts and my actions, if they harm no one and bring me joy, then that is all that I need. Yes, my eyes may be crap and my hair unruly, but I am strong in who I am and not afraid to show it. Despite that well-dressed television team and their advice against it, I am coming at this world, I am coming at this world with spunk and sass and all the crepey cleavage I damn well please.