MIDDLE-AGED WITH BENEFITS

How do you know when you’re middle aged? When ‘I Hope I Die Before I Get Old’ no longer appeals. Or the gap between being too old to rock ‘n’ roll and too young to die is patently obvious. Rap makes me want to curl up with my hands over my ears but a blast of Elvis Costello or The Jam has me jumping round the room like I have moths in my undies. I always know when to stop. Just before it seems like a good idea to try the pogo again.

I believe that my generation is the one that didn’t take to rap. Do I hear you protest? Probably not. Build up of wax. I was there at its conception, when the lyrics were truly horrible and the tunes as clever as advertising jingles.

Napping. That’s an advantage. I can fall asleep after my morning cuppa and not feel embarrassed. It’s the natural eking out of sleep privileges. It takes me ages to go off to sleep at night so I make it up by increments during the day. It’s not that far away from when trying to make up for late nights twenty years ago, I used to lean against the toilet wall in the office bogs and doze until I heard someone scream my name.

I don’t go out as often as I used do. At least not under cover of darkness. And do you know what? I don’t care. I love staying in and watching endless British crime dramas, comedy panel shows and dramas with people my age in them. I’m still cutting edge. I am. I don’t watch ‘Mid Summer Night Murders’ or lifestyle shows.

I am no longer as conscious of my looks. But it is a bit sad knowing that I used to have it, oh yes, in spades, and I have no proof of that any more. Unless I carry around photos from twenty years ago proclaiming, ‘really. It is me.’ At least my hair is in the same style and not grey yet. Most of my friends that I haven’t seen for years still think I’m blonde as all the photos I put up on facebook are decades old or under good lighting. You can’t always depend on that light. A friend and I took a photo of ourselves on her phone last week before she returned to the UK for good. She sent it to me and asked me to put it up on facebook. Well, I couldn’t. I looked so old and scary. I keep checking it again, trying to reassure myself. It doesn’t get any better with looking.

We only have mirrors in the house where not to have them could cause an accident. I sometimes check myself in the rearview mirror in the car. Not while I’m driving. Obviously. The person I see looks okay. A bit sunken around the eyes, but quite becoming at a distance. I forget that I’m shortsighted. I just assume that I’m in soft-focus permanently.

On reflection; some good things. Some bad things. I probably give myself more treats than I should. Years of denying myself ice cream then discovering that the local gelato place does a cracking fig and mascarpone doesn’t help. And quite frankly who wants to spend any more time at the gym. I’ll never get those years back or the money spent on leotards.

And how do I feel inside? I feel magnificent. I have a confidence my younger self never had. I don’t mind looking a tit or that my teeth look funny when I laugh. I love to start sentences with “I’m sorry… I don’t want to upset you/I respect your weird uptight views on parenting, really I do but/I’d rather eat my own earwax than eat any more of your homemade gluten-free biscuits.” Stuff comes out of my mouth unsolicited. It’s great.

Another good thing is quiz lunches. Once a week the husband and I do a quiz from one of the weekend papers, over our post-lunch coffee. And I actually get a buzz out it. I mean I’m not doing crosswords or brain teasers, it’s not like we’re sad or anything. We like it. At least I do. Who’d have thought things would have come to this. I remember some of the things I used to do in my lunch hour. I won’t go into that here. Not the place. At least there’s no chance of pulling a muscle with world affairs.

Middle-aged? Who am I kidding? Only if I live to be 96. I do find I dress up more as I age. I won’t wear shorts any more and I love frilly Op-Shop blouses. Pencil skirts and beautiful dresses. I refuse to wear white or pastels. Maybe if I do live to 96 I’ll be swanning around in evening wear before breakfast. Purple with ruffles. Putting on an accent, and wearing a hat at a jaunty angle. I look forward to it.

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