Scott Adams (Dilbert’s creator) did a great post a few years back about the difference between your chronological age and your permanent age. Your permanent age is the age you feel inside, no matter how young you are or how old you get. Adams says he’s always been 42, even as a kid. I’ve been 30 ever since I was in my early 20s. I’ll be 30, in my head, for the rest of my life.
But chronologically, in about two weeks I’ll be 47. And that’s just weird. I don't feel mature enough, grown up enough to be 47.
Shouldn't I be more financially secure at 47? Not depend so much on my mother's advice? Have better furniture? Shouldn't my house be decorated in some kind of coherent fashion? I probably shouldn't be drinking so much wine, either. Are you supposed to have hangovers at 47?
How are you supposed to dress at 47? I'm still buying graphic t-shirts at Target.
My sister has much better fashion instincts than me, and I always get her advice before wearing something if I feel like it might be too young--but then again, she shops at Forever 21. She says nowadays, just because you’re pushing 50 (which, according to a friend’s husband, is a hell of a lot easier than dragging 50) is no reason to start dressing like an old lady. I heartily agree.
But you know what? There’s some really cute stuff at Chico’s and Coldwater Creek.
I’m not trying to imply that I’m too hip and young at heart to be 47 – I’m not. I’m appalled at the sexual habits of the younger generation, Lady Gaga annoys me and I can't stand hip hop, I prefer emailing or calling to texting, and I’m starting to think we need to switch the drinking age to 18 and the voting age to 25. Or 30.
I'm physically showing the years, too. There's the gray hair, of course (I'm dying it as fast as it comes in). There there's the partially torn rotator cuff, deteriorating knee cartilage, aching feet (head and shoulders knees and toes, knees and toes.....). Oh, and I have to starve myself to lose one pound.
So it's not that I feel so young. It’s just that I don’t feel serious enough to be 47. Back in the old days, by the age of 47 women were Serious. They were Grown Ups. Elizabeth Taylor was 34 and on her fifth husband when she made Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolfe? Jackie Kennedy Onassis was 34 when JFK died.
Did you know that at one time, haute couture was considered appropriate only for older women? It was assumed that you needed to have a few years on you, some life experience, before you could develop the taste and personal style to let you appreciate Schiaparelli and Mainboucher.
The French always had a reverence for femmes d'une certaine age, but there’s no equivalent for that in America. Here, women are celebrated for reaching their 40s and 50s only if they still look like they’re in their 30s. Which is why 45-year-olds shop at Forever 21 and apparently, that’s okay.
I blame the Boomers for this (actually, I blame the Boomers for a lot of stuff, but that’s the subject of another post). It’s the Boomers who initiated American society into the cult of youth.
Think about it – it was in the ‘60s that men stopped wearing hats (hats are for grown ups) and people in their 40s and 50s started dressing like teenagers. Pretty soon, nobody knew how to act their age anymore. Which is how we got to the point where Joan Baez, at the age of 69, fell out of her tree house and hurt herself.
All the newspaper stories were like, “Isn’t it so awesome that she’s climbing up in a tree house at her age?” (A tree house, by the way, that she purposely built without walls, because she wanted to sleep among the birds, and that right there is why Boomers bug me.) No one said, “WTF is a 69 year old woman doing in a damn tree house?”
Wait a minute. What was my point? It’s like my memory is failing or something…
Oh, yeah. 47. Apparently, it feels just like 30.