I am not able to provide a specific date, but there was a time when the guy in the car next to me at the red light was actually looking my way and hey, I was looking back. Not an openly encouraging come hither glance but more a sardonic, lips slightly parted smile, eyes hidden behind sunglasses. After all, I could have been looking beyond him or directly at him. Similar things happened at the grocery store. Lingering eye contact over the deli counter, a feigned interest in the Havarti slices. Now it’s all about shaved or sliced smoked chicken – and really, that’s what it’s all about.
When I pass a group of teenage girls now, I’m self-conscious. I feel the heaviness of their glare expertly delivered from beneath sooty eye lashes and iridescent lids – they despise me. I am older, and not just older than them. Old-er. It’s perceived to be a weakness. There’s something horribly primal about it, as though hyenas are driving a member from the pack when they are no longer vital. Perhaps I should feel smug, armed with the knowledge that one day their bejeweled navels will in fact be frowning or possibly hidden altogether but this kind of speculation holds no appeal for me. Instead I focus on my own decline, wondering what is on the back of my leg in the shower (it’s my bum, people!). Hating myself for it all the while, I also click on “Celebrity Secrets” online just in case. Disappointingly, the “secret” is lots of water and a personal chef — well, that and $35,000 worth of cosmetic surgery.
I’m not sure why I even cite these strange examples here, but they provide subtle markers that I am changing and even more weirdly, that how society perceives me is changing. Someone in line asked me if I was shopping for my grandchildren and I literally could have dropped to my knees with the sting from that innocent remark. But it’s technically possible, I guess. A few years back – perhaps the same time as the deli-staff lost interest, who charts these things? — people also stopped being older than me. Very inconsiderate, but I’m getting over it.
The bottom line is that I am trying hard to accept all of these challenges with grace – and gratitude — for the life that I have. Youth may be wasted on the young, but I want to be sure not to waste anything.