One of my favorite movies is Fried Green Tomatoes, starring Jessica Tandy and the ever-fabulous Kathy Bates. The movie is fun, powerful. and emotional, and had me enthralled from start to finish.
The best scene, not surprisingly, made me laugh out loud. Ms. Bates was circling a parking lot at a grocery store, and she spied the perfect parking spot. As she was angling her car towards the empty space, two young, leggy 22-year-olds in a red Volkswagen, zipped in and stole it. Barbie and Midge got out of their little car, and Barbie waved her hand at Kathy. “Face it, lady,” she grinned, “We’re younger and faster.” Bates backed up her car, and then floored the gas, repeatedly ramming into the back of the Bug, while yelling “Tawanda!” with each crash. Then she smiled, leaned out her car window, and with no remorse whatsoever, said “Face it, girls. I’m older and have better insurance.”
I could watch that scene all day long.
Much has been written about the good and the bad aspects of aging, but one of the best things is that we can ditch our guilt. We’ve learned that life is short. When we spend even the smallest portions of our lives feeling guilty about petty crap that doesn’t really matter to the rest of the world, we rob ourselves of the joy that comes from a life well lived. Things you’ve felt guilty about for years, or maybe things you’ve never told anybody for fear of judgment, simply become facts about who you were at that time. You may or may not still be that person. But by now we can say, “This is me. If you don’t like me, or we don’t share similar political beliefs, or I love Botox and you think it’s superficial and stupid, you can de-friend me on Facebook. It’s okay. I promise not to try to sleep with your husband.”
What I used to feel guilty about, but don’t anymore:
- Skipping my workout to stay in bed and read. I know. We can prop our Kindles on the exercise bike at the gym, but somehow it’s not the same as snuggling down under the comforter with a fat book.
- Wearing yoga pants in public. I don’t do yoga, but I love the pants. They’re more comfortable than jeans, and perfect on the weekends. My yoga pant wardrobe now takes up the largest section of my closet. Bad old lady. Bad.
- Getting cosmetic intervention. There’s a saying, “The only difference between a beautiful woman and an ugly woman is either God or a booty-load of money.” If those annoying lines around the eyes, or those grandma puckers around your lips can magically disappear by simply writing a check, why not?
- Hating vegetables, but loving chocolate. I’ve hated cooked vegetables since I was a toddler. Mom couldn’t put enough cheese on the broccoli or say anything that would make a Brussel sprout more palatable. Chocolate, on the other hand, is to be worshipped and enjoyed in all its various presentations. Chocolate, by definition, is the perfect food.
- Tossing my stilettos and living in flats. Yes, I know that men love stilettos (but you’ll notice they don’t wear them either). But they hurt my feet and throw me off balance. Buh-bye 4″ heels. And welcome home, low-heeled leopard print boots.
- Paying $200 for jeans. Because they fit like a dream. The denim is soft and beautiful. They hug my curves, and I feel good when I wear them. Best justification for spending $200 on denim, ever.
- Buying a two-seater red convertible, even though I have grandchildren. I see my darling grandbabies approximately twice a month, so the compatibility of a sports car to car seats is not an issue. I figure we’ll just borrow mommy or daddy’s car whenever my little munchkins come to visit. The rest of the time, I’m in a red convertible, top down and radio up.
- Drinking cheap wine. Sometimes that’s all you’ve got.
- Preferring expensive wines. I try to maintain a balance. Cheap during the week. Better on weekends. What the hell, it’s a system.
- Ordering dessert. With one fork. If Hubs wants dessert, he’s welcome to peruse the menu. We can split the enchilada sampler platter, but my dessert is off-limits.
- Going offline. As time goes by and Facebook continues their ridiculous algorithms that mean I don’t see more than 25 out of 1000 friends’ posts (and it’s always the same 25 people), I walk away from time to time, choosing to spend more time in the non-virtual world with people I can actually see and touch. I love my FB tribe, but FB has made it bizarrely difficult to connect with them. I check in every now and then, but gone are the days of hours and hours to make sure I don’t miss any good gossip, public apologies for marital infidelity, or photos of dessert carts in Paris.
- Buying another pair of black boots. Sorry, Hubs, but there’s no such thing as too many pairs of black boots. He always looks a bit confused when he looks in my closet and says, “Don’t you already have black boots??” to which I respond, “Yes. I’ve got suede, patent leather, over-the-knee, to-the-knee, animal print, and my favorite pair of bad-ass motorcycle boots for days when I’m feeling all that. But these new ones are floral. How cool is that??” He just walks away, muttering, “Why do I ask?”
- Liking sex. Our children, regardless of their ages, would like to believe that Mom and Dad never had sex. Never have had it. Never will have it. Well, kids, I hate to break it to you, but the story about the stork dropping you into the cabbage patch? We lied. And not only do we still have sex, we’ve been having it long enough to be really good at it. Now here’s fifty bucks to pay your therapist. We won’t mention this again.
- Having that third glass of wine. I love red wine, and if I have a glass or two, or (you didn’t hear this from me) three, rest assured that I have never started pole dancing on a bar counter or offered strangers tequila shots out of my navel. I don’t like to be drunk, so I don’t get that way. But I do like a occasional glow in the evening. I’m 61. I’ve earned it.
- Not tipping for bad service. When did tips becomes obligatory? It makes me crazy when an 18% gratuity is automatically added to the bill. I’ve always thought that tips were for service above and beyond the everyday hand-you-your-plate-and-say-thanks level. Hubs is a big tipper. When the service is good, he tips. When it’s subservice or nonexistent, he gives me the pen.
So while youth is fun and a little reckless, middle age (bahahaha. Who are we kidding? In 48 countries, we’re old)…Let’s say “the twilight of our middle age” is liberating. We’re living the life we’ve created for ourselves, and we don’t suffer guilt gladly. I think I’m going to love my 60s.