Stop Calling Me “Ma’am!”
Because in Hollywood: 2 + 3 = “Sharknado 5.” Kate + 8 = “Television.” And… Actress + 40 = “DEAD.”
When I tell people how old I am, the common response is, “Really?” accompanied by a slight gasp and an eyebrow raised in suspicion.
Embarrassed, they quickly add, ”You look great!” as their voices trail off with that tell-tale (dot, dot, dot) which means I know what they’re really thinking, “You look great…for your age.”
They seem incredulous that someone “my age” isn’t lying prone on a Carnival Cruise deck chair recalling the revolutionary impact of control top pantyhose while eating a 7 course meal — through a straw. So perhaps hearing “You look great! (dot, dot, dot) should be considered a compliment. I’d raise an eyebrow in suspicion of that theory but I’ve had so much Botox I can’t move anything above my knees.
By the way, I’m 55. There, I said it. And there you are with your facile forehead saying, “You look great!” (dot, dot, dot) Thanks. I think.
An embroidered pillow on my bed reads “Aging Gracefully Is Overrated.” I believe that’s true. And, I believe I need to get over it. By “it” I mean my — and perhaps all of society’s expectations of where my life should be by now.
Let’s not get started on where my butt and boobs should be. If they keep sinking, I’ll need a Navy Seal to dredge them up. Hmmm…what a fantastic idea. “Hello, Sailor!”
So taking this all in I channel my 70’s inspired, yet delusional, Helen Reddy goals. By “this age” I was supposed to be roaring and soaring — managing my 401k, winning a 10k, all while maintaining a size six with bowls of Special K.
None of this has happened.
So, today my choices are to find a way to feel good about my accomplishments — or not. I can accept my life “at this age” while shouting “I’m 55 and Fabulous!” as I wave my AARP card for 15 cents off a McDonald’s coffee — or not. I can don stretch capri pants and let my hair go gray like Jamie Lee Curtis in a yogurt commercial — or not.
I choose “or not.”
I’ve lied about my age since I was 40, shaving off five years knowing I could pull it off which worked until I turned 45
Ageism hit me hardest at the gym when I found myself lying to the elliptical machine. It would prompt: Input program: (1) Walk in the Park — nope, too easy. (2) Run Up Big Hills — nope, too hard. (3) Lie Through My Teeth About My Age. Bingo! I press 3. Then it prompts: “Input weight.” I cover the LED with my hand like I’m shielding my pin number at an ATM as I enter the ungodly number.
Then it prompts, “Input Age.” What’s that got to do with bobbing up and down on a machine? By the time I pound the numbers 55 into the machine my time is up and another gym member is waiting. “Great workout! It’s all yours!” I say to Barbie as I mop my brow and collect my dignity — and my More magazine.
I stopped denying my age the day I found out I had a Wikipedia page. It was put together by some over-eager yet well-meaning cyber geek who’s apparently one of the six viewers of my TV host stint on Game Show Network. Right there on the World Wide Web is my birthdate glaringly displayed for the entire universe to see.
It’s not hard to edit a Wikipedia page — believe me it’s not if I can do it. But every time I went online and shaved five or six years off my birthdate, this unseen “Julian Assange” went back and restored it.
How does Mr. Wiki-Stalker know I’ve changed it anyway? And why does he care that I’m so emotionally immature I can’t bear to see the numbers 1–9–6–1 lined up in that order?
Besides, MY Wikipedia page is about MY life. I can fake, forge or revise my own damned history, thank you very much. Who is this basement dwelling Wiki-Weirdo? This pleather-belt-wearing, mouth-breather who’s cutting and pasting my life on some makeshift encyclopedia? Who has that kind of time?
Okay, confession. I do Google myself — occasionally. Maybe because it’s much easier to look at photos of my younger self than face the face I see in the mirror now — the one with the jowls of life.
It is really crazy how crazy I can let my age make me. And it is just a number, right? Which I’m sure is how my silent editor feels as he posts what he decides are “Just the facts, Ma’am.”
Stop calling me Ma’am!! Being called Ma’am is like hearing, “Hey, aging lady with a coupon for chocolate calcium chews who’s buying Fresca and writing a check, how are you today, Ma’am?”
I blame modern technology for making us all so self-aware and too self-important. Why else do we constantly check email, texts, Tweets, Facebook and Wikipedia? Is it to reaffirm our existence and our worth? Or is it to find a Groupon coupon for half off some modern technology that can make us look half our age?
Is anyone else tired right now? I am. But then, I’m 55. I had much more energy last year. Yet, I so want the oomph to embrace my age, my aging and technology’s grasp on my truth.
Perhaps I should get rid of that pithy little pillow and learn to age gracefully because it is, after all, “Just the facts, Ma’am. Just the facts.”
Which I’m jiggy with it…on one condition... that you stop calling me Ma’am!