Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Act Your Age

I used to always be able to sleep on planes. Once in my early 20's, when I was much younger and way cuter than I am now, I fell asleep on a flight and woke up with my arm wrapped around the arm of the gentleman next to me and my head nestled comfortably into his shoulder. There may or may not have been drool involved. He was, as I already mentioned, a gentleman. He didn't mention it. He was a complete stranger. My embarrassment was mild and fleeting though, because he clearly found the whole situation adorable.

If I repeated that scenario now, I suspect that the reaction of a stranger would not be the same.

On my most recent flights I couldn't even relax, much less sleep. I spent the bulk of my time scrunching my shoulders inward in a ridiculous attempt to take up less space than I do. When I board a plane now, I can almost hear people's thoughts as I head up the aisle, "Dontsitbymedontsitbymedontsitbyme" followed by a relieved exhale as I pass them by. When some unlucky loser in the seat game DOES have to sit next to me, I wonder if they can hear my equally loud thoughts,
"Imsorryimsobigimsorryitakeupspaceimsorry".

What's adorable behavior for a young (relatively) attractive woman would be absolutely appalling behavior for - well - me.

Take flirting. Oh my Lord, I like to flirt. Always did. Probably always will. Now, though, you're unlikely to find me very flirtatious before my third cocktail. The inhibitions that come with age, and weight, and feeling generally unattractive need to be softened up a bit these days before I can muster up enough confidence to play the coquette. Even using that word - coquette - to describe me seems wrong. I'm a big woman pushing 50. I'm not anything -ette.

But I always have fun when I let myself give in to it.

Bartender? I'll have another of those, please. (Lowers eyes and raises them at the bartender just like Susanna Hoffs circa 1985. Just. Like her.)

Ah, but acting one's age can be as difficult to figure out as dressing one's age.

When kids are very young, it starts. We don't want them to act any younger than they are - that's immature and annoying. We don't want them to act any older than they are - that's precocious and obnoxious. Yet most kids err on both sides of that equation from time to time.

I still err on both sides of that equation from time to time.

Sometimes I still feel as though I could party like a rock star (complete with massive amounts of flirtation) and sometimes I'd just rather bitch about my arthritis and my hot flashes. Only difference I see between that and kids getting it wrong is that when I err on the side of youth it's obnoxious and when I err on the side of geriatrics it's annoying.

Act your age, not your shoe size. And while I'm at it, I should probably stop buying my shoes in the Juniors department. Candies aren't cute with cankles. Friends don't let friends wear mary janes with support hose.

But what is a woman my age supposed to act like? What is she supposed to look like? What is she supposed to dress like?

Ah, friends, it's just another variation on the theme I've been exploring for weeks - no, months - no, years: I need to simply be who I be.

Such a simple sentiment, it really should be easier for me to grasp.

19 comments:

Jennifer said...

UR ONLY AS OLD AS U ACT AND FEEL! Only if u want to act ur age should u. There is nothing wrong with being Youthful. Ur post said ur pushin 50. Dont think of it as 50 years old think of it as 50 years young! Enjoy!

The Empress said...

Oh, once again: you speak the truth, almighty girl.

What is sad is when your flirting becomes "harmless." Now, that's a state to be in.

Enjoy while it is still "flirting" and not "a dirty old woman."

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

I guess life is a constant process of defining who we are and what we're comfortable doing. My mother once commented that somebody was too old to be wearing her hair long. The concept had never crossed my mind. I get the impression that my hubby thinks I'm too old to wear pink cardy Uggs. I wear 'em anyway. And pushing 50 isn't anywhere near old, let me tell you! As the others have said, "Enjoy." To the max.

MiMi said...

Friends don't let friends wear mary janes with support hose.
Well, friends indeed! I wish someone would have told me that!!

Eva Gallant said...

The worst is when I have to ask for a seatbelt extender on some flights. I prefer not to fly! I feel your pain, girl.

carma said...

You are so much more than your age and weight. Don't let those 2 things define you. As anyone who reads your blog can tell, you are witty, wise and spunky - go ahead and rock those Candies!!

Badass Geek said...

If, by some stretch of fate we wind up on the same plane together, you can sleep on my shoulder. I wouldn't mind.

Cheryl said...

Awww, Badass Geek just stole my heart. Gonna steal yours too, I just know it!

Tammy, Tammy, Tammy. *SIGH* *head shake* *sigh*

Love the skin you're in. The outside shit doesn't matter. I got a whole trunkload of those if you need more. Come visit. We'll talk.

I'm very tall and what I lack in weight I more than make up for in carry-on luggage. Ask any of the people I conk on the head as I pass them on my way to my seat. If there's an open seat on the plane, my seatmate is usually looking for it to move to when s/he realizes I'm theirs!

5thsister said...

Tammy, I for one think you are a beautiful woman who is charming, witty and intelligent. You got it all going on, girlfriend!

Gibby said...

I feel the exact. same. way.

I am 38. How is a 38YO supposed to act? I am too old to act like I am just out of college, but too young to complain about my body breaking down (which strangely, it already is). Is it bad that I want to act like I am still 26? My husband does, so why can't I? Why do I have to be the adult in this family? But when I do act like I am 26 again, I feel guilty for not acting 38, whatever that is. It's ridiculous.

Joanna Jenkins said...

I hear you! It really SHOULD be easier to be comfortable in our own skin.

And for the record, I'd be thrilled to sit next to you on an airplane.

Cheers,
jj

Tsquared417 said...

I know I'm young...but...my Mom said something about me being twice someone's age the other day...and in my head I'm thinking "But I'm only 23??" and then realized that I'm almost 34...and this person was indeed 15!! It was such a weird moment...I truly still feel like I'm in my 20s!

gayle said...

I same do what makes you feel good and get advice from a special friend who is honest!!

Traci said...

First off, Candies are always cute! Secondly,I repeat the above comments -- you are only as old as you feel. If you are HALF as fun in person as you are online, you are perpetually 26. So Rock those Candies and those eyelashes. I suspect you are way cuter than you think. I would gladly party like its 1999 with you any day.
:-)
Traci

Sandy said...

I suppose we all have those feelings. For quite a few years I felt like I was at that "in between stage." Too young for this and too old for that.

I've said the one good thing about getting older (old?) is that I care less what people think of me on the outside and more about what they think about the inside. Sounds like something I should have learned in Kindergarten. I still think about what I'm wearing but much less considered about how I look.

But there are times after getting ready to go somewhere, I feel like I look pretty good, until I get there and look around and think "I wish I had that dress" (haven't worn a dress in 10+ years) or "I wish I could wear those pants." But I don't and I can't aso I smile and try to be friendly and to forget my insecurities.

Most of the time it works, then there are the others......

Sandy said...

Oh, I forgot the flirting.....I was always too insecure and shy to be a flirt. As I've gotten older I do find I talk to anyone anywhere and I wonder if men think sometimes I'm flirting. Maybe I am.

Unknown Mami said...

Oh Tammy, I want to reach through the screen and shake some sense into you. You are so friggin' smart and I know you "know" all the right answers, but Tammy you have got to be you! You have got to flirt, you have got to take up all the room you are entitled to because it gives us all permission to do the same. I know we all feel this way from time to time, but I want you to feel this way less and less. Don't wait until you are 70 to say FUCK IT! No one is insulted by flirting; it's a compliment.

Amy said...

I agree with Unknown Mami. We have to live true to ourselves. If we are smart then we will age gracefully. The key, I believe (but I'm still figuring it out) is doing what is right for you and not what you think others want to from you.

Having said that--good friends will help save you from yourself. A good friend just stopped me from buying pumps which I thought were necessary for my public speaking but would have made me look old. Listen to those who love you.

MaryRC said...

Well first of all you have to start beating yourself up and embracing who you are and what you look like. that of which i myself have not done, so my advice is entirely hypocritical.