A Few Old Friends

Looks Aren't Everything

I'd like to say I aged thirty years in one day, but honestly, how can you tell? Yes, this past Monday I set my hair in pin curls and wrapped it in a scarf, but my hair color was already gray. Yes, I donned an old house dress (what my grandmother used to call a "duster”) with ankle socks, orthopedic shoes, and a slip that hung visibly from underneath, but who's to say the comfy knit gym shorts and faded t-shirt that serve as my typical around-the-house "uniform” are any better? That I hung my bifocals from a chain around my neck doesn't negate the fact that I already had a pair to work with. And while it was fun to fill two water balloons and insert them into an enormous bra to give the illusion of woefully sagging breasts – truth be told, the only difference between that effect and my own reality is the size!

So why did I do all of these crazy things (which, by the way, also included tricking out a portable toilet/walker with a fuzzy pink cover, handy over-the-handle book bag, and a plastic hospital tray to hold essentials like Depends, a magnifying glass, and a copy of Readers Digest)? The reason is simple. My friend Anita was turning sixty, so a bunch of us threw her a surprise party, and in a show of solidarity we all arrived dressed as Old Ladies.

It was a hoot, let me tell you! I mean, here we were, a bunch of decidedly middle aged women, reverting back to something we all used to do when were small – playing dress up. I'm sure you did the same thing when you were a little girl, you know, where you put on your mother's hats and jewelry, smeared some lipstick and rouge on your face, and clomped around in her high heels pretending to be all grown up. Only this time, because we already were grown up, there wasn't much room left on the timeline so we decided to go geriatric!

Interestingly enough, we all seemed to have a "role model” in our own lives from which to draw ideas for our attire. For some it was fond memories of a grandmother, who would tuck a Kleenex into her watch band and hang a pill dispenser around her neck. For others it was their own mother, who faithfully wore her pearls around the house, even with mismatched paisleys, plaids and stripes.

Additionally, when selecting our outfits, most of us embraced the stereotypical theme of "comfort first”, whereby all sense of fashion and style went out the window in favor of an odd assortment of garments that were loose, cool, utilitarian and handy. We made fun of the concept for sure, and shared our worst nightmares of getting stopped on the way home from the party while wearing these ghastly ensembles. On the other hand we also agreed there was a lot to be said for the wisdom of choosing clothing that afforded such blissful freedom of movement, and not surprisingly by the end of our get-together, we had collectively given those "dusters” an enthusiastic two thumbs up!

But as I looked around the room at all the walkers and rolled down stockings with terrycloth house slippers, and hairnets over fake powdered buns, I found myself wondering: Is this really how we're going to look thirty years from now when we're in our eighties? Somehow I don't think so. Oh sure, we may schlep around the house in our dusters (now that we've discovered them, there's no going back!) with soft warm socks of a totally different color. That much I understand. But I mean really. At what point does a woman truly stop caring a whit about what she looks like when she goes out in public?

Granted, there's bound to come a time when we give up on the coloring jobs – not only because it's too much trouble, but because a gal of eighty-six with jet black tresses isn't fooling anybody. But when will we start opting to simply wrap a scarf around our head instead of bothering to run a brush through our hair? When will we stop wearing lipstick and having pedicures and shaving our legs? And here's the real kicker: At what prophetic moment in our lives will we consciously stand in front of a mirror before heading out the door, and say to ourselves, "Black knee-high hose + beige orthopedic loafers + yellow polyester shorts + red Christmas sweater = "Lookin' Good!”?

Personally I have no idea exactly how or when all this will take place. All I know is that when it does I'll have plenty of friends who are going to look waaaaaaay worse than I do, and thanks to Anita's party, I now have just the photo to prove it!

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