Thursday, February 7, 2013

A Little Patina is a Good Thing

“My fingernails look young. The rest of me looks old.” I paraphrase, but this was the essence of a conversation I had today. It got me to thinking about ‘looking old’. Hypothetical: would you want to be rounding the curve towards sixty, yet still look twenty? Yes, I admit to the odd twinge of regret when I look in the mirror and see the headlights, even with adjustment, still shine down on the road right in front of my feet, instead of brightening that long, exciting road ahead. That could be in part a blessing, because between my eyes, my coordination and my balance, looking down that road any distance would just be a harbinger for disaster. Perhaps my headlights are focused right where they need to be.

I would have a lot of trouble if I had to dress like a twenty year old. Sorry, but the clothes I wore when I was twenty would really not work today. My body that looks twenty years old would be at constant odds with my mind that can’t even see a shadow of twenty in my rearview. Six inch heels now? My legs might say ‘hell yes!’ but my brain would be smacking the little red emergency button. That whole business with wearing your pants so low that your butt crack beams out at anyone behind you, and you waddle like a penguin because your crotch is at your knees would be a decided bad look with your incontinence garb. It would also be problematic with navigating stairs, getting into vehicles, or, well, walking to the kitchen. Once we give in to the clothes, can rap music be far behind?

I’m not sure I would want to look twenty when the person I love and have shared life with for thirty-plus years looks his age. I am damned sure I would be more than a little self-conscious (sic paranoid) if the tables were reversed, and he looked that much younger than me. Yes, aging gracefully is a great thing, and there is no reason to throw up your hands in despair, giving up at the first liver spot and allowing all the forces of nature to have their way with you, but do we need to be so consumed about it? Perhaps there is a reason we all go through the same process... so that we can see the beauty in each age, in each stage, both inside and out.

All of this begs the question ‘what is wrong with looking old?’ There is a classic beauty to a vintage car. They have rallies for them, where people gather around to listen to them purr. No one kicks the tires or slams the doors at these events; the beauties have earned some respect. The value of many antiques is in the treasured patina, the evidence of age, on the finish. To the trained eye, the connoisseur, the evidence of age IS the beauty. They don’t want to see the laugh lines of life erased from the face of a buffet, the little scars sanded away from the table top.

Perhaps we need to look at the ‘little things’ we do as aids to feeling beautiful on the inside, a means for us to show that while we can’t stop time (or gravity, that heartless bitch), we can still say ‘look at me’. Just like the vintage car still needs nice tires, so can a nice pair of shoes make a world of difference to going out to lunch with the ladies. So what if your nails look younger than the rest of you? They make you feel good, they give you a chance to pamper yourself, take time that is for you. Get your hair done, or get a massage, then go out and celebrate that you did.

Besides, if you think back to twenty, when your hair was thick (and on the top of your head, where it belongs, instead of all those other places it decides to migrate to with time) and your boobs were perky, do you really have the energy for that? Sorry, I am all for taking care of oneself, but I am no longer interested in making it a full time job.

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