A girlfriend called for a quick trip to the mall. We dumped the kids on our husbands and indulged ourselves with a little shopping and a scoop of dark chocolate ice cream. The ice cream was dinner. Every once in a while, decadence for dinner is a good thing.
My friend searched the racks and held up an item. “I’m too old for that.” Then, she’d put it back. She did this more than once. My birthday is this week. I’m 13 years older than her. I said nothing to draw attention to the fact.
In Macy’s lingerie department, I focused on a pair of boy cut chiffon panties with tiny ruffles in rows across the butt. They were like infant rhumba pants, except not for children. On cue, my friend said, “I’m too old for that.”
Before I could stop myself, I answered, “You’re never too old for anything you wear under your clothes.”
The panties reminded me of a guy I knew in college. He played tennis. Once, I said, “I wish I knew how to play.”
He pointed to a girl on the court wearing ruffled butt panties under her tennis dress and said, “If you promise to wear those, I’ll teach you how.”
To this day, I’ve never learned to play tennis. I wish I had. Am I too old to learn? Am I really too old to wear grown up rhumba pants?
The next day, another friend came by to invite us to her daughter’s birthday dinner. Bacon was at work. Cherry and Coco were watching television. Friend #2 came in with her eight year old. My girls started yelling, “Mama, Mama, we have company.” They were yelling up, and I was yelling down. Friend #2 was very confused.
I was on the roof. I climbed a ladder holding a large red broom. We have live oak trees. They shed sticky brown pollen. Barring a two inch rain, the junk will blow down a bucket at a time until all of our patio furniture is ruined. I climbed the roof to sweep the gutters.
I didn’t want to ask Bacon, and then, wait for him to get around to it. I’m more comfortable with heights than he is. I spent most of college on a ladder focusing lights for theatrical productions. Later, I worked as a house painter. It was a long time ago, but I don’t see myself as old. Friend #2 thought I was funny. She told the story at dinner. Am I too old to climb up on the roof with a broom?
I walk in the park every day. A man in his 70’s exercises at the same time; except, he doesn’t walk. He runs. He runs fast. He’s careful to stretch and warm up, but still, I don’t do what he does. He isn’t an elite athlete, but he’s in great shape. Is he too old to run? Am I too old to start?
Today, I’m a moody mess. I went back to the mall because I’d been thinking about a dress that Friend #1, my younger friend, tried on. I bought a size bigger. When I got home with it, the dress fit, but I had trouble with the zipper.
Frustrated, I told Bacon, “I should have known better.” I berated myself for imagining that I could wear this dress that looked great on her. The comparison made me miserable. I found myself thinking the I’m too old thing.
The truth is: it’s a cheap dress with a lousy zipper. Repeating the old lie is a socially acceptable excuse. We use those words whenever we feel angry or upset or incomplete or tired or vulnerable.
Romance heroines are almost always in their 20’s because that’s the age we imagine we are before we look in the mirror. Instead of checking myself out in the mirror as I’m messing with a bad zipper, I should put the rhumba pants on under my jeans and get on with life. I’m not too old.