The other morning at the crack I was at Starbucks, buying a couple of chocolate croissants, a Frappuccino and some juice for my kids who were coming home from a trip on an overnight bus.
Standing in front of me was a chatty lady that was also on an early morning teen-related mission of heading to a swim meet. Based on the activity, her willingness to pair skinny jeans with New Balance running shoes (hullo, comfort AND style in one ensemble!) and her cute but easy pixie ‘do, I figured we were both about the same age.
She, on the other hand, exclaimed in genuine disbelief about me being old enough to have teenagers. That somehow I must’ve been a baby when I started having babies. And how good it was for me, although she could never pull it off.
Initially I was flattered — I mean, who among us in our youth-obsessed culture doesn’t want to be mistaken for an ingénue? — but as she headed out the door, blowing on her steaming non-fat latte, I got pissed.
Not at her for trying to be nice to me, but at her for disparaging herself because clearly we had the same half-century or so in our rear view mirrors.
I thought about what would possibly make her say that I looked young as compared to her, and here’s what I came up with:
- I was buying pastries, and of course the only humans who joyously and freely consume carbs with wild abandon are the young’uns. Ditto on juice purchased at a coffee joint, as well as the 12-zillion calorie coffee-jolted milkshake (with extra whip, of course!)
- I was wearing a tattered Wilco concert t-shirt. (NOTE: Had she known who Wilco was, she would’ve squarely placed me in middle age. She would’ve also assumed I was male, currently enjoying the renaissance of whiskey, and was not an infrequent dabbler in facial hair, as of course I dig the freedom of not shaving but would never let it go full-on hipster with a Civil War-esque beard. I’d look too much like Santa, as a dude of a certain age is wont to do.)
- I was also wearing a black sweatshirt with a skull on it. (For the record, ALL of my sweatshirts are black and have skulls on them. It’s a fetish, what can I say?)
- I was too tired to take the sunglasses off my face while I waited in line, which both hid the bags under my eyes and gave me a certain aloof air.
- My nail polish was chipped and black — just like my attitude that morning.
- I was still wearing my slouchy but “stylish” sweatpants that I sleep in and wear during the day because Vogue said that was an OK thing to do. (I’m KIDDING! I’ve repurposed sleepwear for daytime casual looks my entire life, and I’m pretty sure this is not a Vogue-approved practice.)
- Completing my “look” was a pair of silver Vans that I wear as “dress” shoes that I threw on because they were still at my bedside from two night’s prior. (More of a Teen Vogue move than a Vogue-Vogue one.)
I know, you’re probably wondering why I have high fashion on the brain…. and there is actually a solid connection. On my way to that early morning Starbucks run, I listened to Marc Maron’s recent interview with Cindy Crawford on his WTF podcast. Normally I like comedy in my early morning, and although Crawford isn’t ha-ha funny, she had my attention because she was talking about a funny subject… for a super model: turning 50. (Tomorrow — February 20th! Happy Birthday Baby Gia!)
“I don’t want to be that woman trying to be 25 when I’m 50,” Cindy said. “I had a great 25, I had a great 20, I had a great 30. I want to have a great 50 and a great 55. I don’t want to be nostalgic for my glory days. I honor them, I celebrate them, but I don’t want to be stuck there.”
See now, there’s where Cindy and I part ways. While she can attribute her youthful good looks to a combo platter of amazing genetics, a life-long devotion to superlative skincare (her Meaningful Beauty line, which she started thinking about in her aforementioned 20s while I was still busy slathering on Hawaiian Tropic oil to tan to a crisp), eating right, exercising and perhaps preserving herself with unlimited free access to her husband and his partner, George Clooney’s, Casamigos tequila, I have my own anti-aging secret…
I am totally and fully devoted to holding on to immaturity for dear life. And so I am DESPERATELY trying to be 25 when I’m 50.
Mind you, I’m not talking about the 25 I was in real life… that 25 sucked donkey balls. At that time, I was still learning how to cope with a crippling panic disorder brought on by an existential crisis way beyond my quarter century years. I almost never went out (alcohol + agoraphobia + anxiety = certain doom), and all I did pretty much was work 80 hours a week and hang out with a boyfriend who only marginally liked me. And whom I only marginally liked.
I’m talking about 25 now — you know, the kind marked by Millennial madness. Like the girls on Girls (Season 5 starts a day after Cindy Crawford’s birthday!) Sure there’s still angst, soul-sucking jobs, bad boyfriends and probably plenty of mental illness BUT there’s also a load of emphasis on friendship, making finding your passion a priority, some playful gender fluidity, comfortable nudity, intriguing sexual situations, a genuine sense of wanting to make a difference in the world and some really smart, really on point humor.
(Just by using the expression, “on point,” I feel younger already! Not really… that was probably so 2008…)
I’d like to think that if Cindy and I were to hang out, after she finishes her breakfast of angel fetuses (because that’s got to be her REAL beauty secret, amiright?), we would head out for a day of unfettered, immature fun. There’d be fart jokes, day drinking, inappropriate laughing and other outbursts during meetings, and a drunken stop to get matching BBF tattoos. (I’m thinking I’d get a Coke tattoo on my left butt cheek and she’d get Pepsi, of course, on her right =) In the end there would be an emotional argument (or as Lena Dunham calls it, “untabling our issues,”) a good, mutual ugly cry, and then we’d gently talk each other to sleep as we share our inner most thoughts, dreams and emotions. I would also probably get her to FINALLY give me all the gory details about what sex with Richard Gere was like and why it was even better than my Officer and a Gentleman-lovin’ ass could’ve ever hoped/dreamed.
In the end, next to rampant immaturity, I do believe imagination — which we so often use in the context of children but honestly, should be a lifelong state o’ mind — is our saving grace when it comes to not only NOT looking our age, but not feeling it, either.
Well, that and plastic surgery. (Both Cindy and I agree, we all make our own personal decisions and nobody needs to judge.)
So if you see me ordering a Frappuccino with extra whip, just know I’m hoping that SOMEBODY (maybe you?) will make me do at least one spit take while I down it. Because a deep belly laugh with a good friend is the best way to make sure you look and feel fabulous at ANY age.