Wednesday, February 7, 2018


IHOP and I--both
60 this year.
I am writing this exactly one week before my 60th birthday. Sixty. The big 6-0. The start of my seventh  decade knocking around this planet being a smartass. This day, when I was little girl -- up to a point,  probably, in my thirties -- seemed very far away.

Sixty seems more daunting than other benchmark birthdays. Thirty was nothing. Forty was a minor shock and fifty was, literally, overlooked. Fifty? Bah---who cares! Especially when others (people in their fifties) insisted that fifty is now considered the “new thirty.” I knew that was nonsense but I was busy, the kids appeared to still need me (although that was a mirage) and my knees hadn’t started hurting in earnest…yet.

But sixty sounds formidable. Even though I didn’t need any special skills to get here, it carries a sort of gravitas.

It’s the gateway to another chapter---one where you become a little more cranky, creaky…and more invisible.

It’s when women of my mother’s generation began wearing lower heels and crisp snap coats to the corner store. They might even have fastened one of those schooner-shaped net kerchiefs, designed to keep their beauty parlor coifs safe in the rain, under their chins. Nobody cared. After all, you were sixty.

Today, women’s uniforms don’t seem to change much. If we were cleavage baring, stiletto-wearing hussies, we continue to be---apparently unto eternity. I’m not saying this is a bad thing as I, myself, hope to wear my jeans and Birkenstocks until the bitter end. But sixty cannot be turned into something “young.” We’re not spring poultry anymore.

My generation fights to stay youthful. We’re capable of spending hefty sums on one (or several) of twenty trillion available skin treatments, endure boob and tushie lifts and text in disturbing abbreviations on our little phones. Men get hair plugs and take viagra. Aging has become something to fear, something to hide from by utilizing a variety of sophisticated defenses. And, while I fret endlessly about diminishing collagen, eye bags and wrinkling knee caps, I realize that, every day, something else has begun sliding downward in need of an artificial boost…and it ain’t stopping.

I have a photo of my grandma, taken soon after her sixtieth birthday. Perched on a swing in a playground, she’s wearing a sensible dress and the saddest expression you’ve ever seen. She wasn’t bemoaning the encroachment of age. I was only two at the time but now understand that this woman was too worn out to have spent much time worrying about getting older. She still worked like a dog everyday, dealing with all kinds of problems and all kinds of people. 

She might have slapped some Jergens on before toppling into bed every night but she didn’t have the luxury to wonder if she should join a gym. Her leisure time was spent with Lawrence Welk or chatting with her sisters, all of whom lived in the same house. She looked and behaved like an “old lady.”

I may look like an old lady but I prance off to the gym, wear sweatshirts with words on them and  shove pedicured feet into fluffy UGGS when it’s chilly. I text (in full, perfectly punctuated sentences, for the record), listen to current music (sometimes) and occasionally use the word “cool.” That doesn’t, however, make me cool. My grandma was cool. She baked every week, washed the floor every night and sewed much of our clothing on an old factory Singer in the damp cellar of our Brooklyn home, sometimes late into the night. I hope someone acknowledged her sixtieth birthday.

I’d also like to say that I greatly appreciate still being here. We all know a startling number of wonderful friends and family who were snatched away and who would have loved to be planning for their sixtieth birthdays. I miss you all terribly and, in your names, promise that I won’t whine too much about it but will truly celebrate, in my heart, that I’ve been given these years, months, days and minutes to enjoy a sunset, browse the aisles of Sephora (where I’m ignored) and tirelessly plot against Justin Bieber.  

I cannot promise that I will always use my time well and never be a jerk, and -- as Seth loves to remind me, a cinder block could fall on my head tomorrow -- but sixty, here I come!

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