It’s 3 a.m. and I am wide awake—again. I untangle from my sweat-soaked sheets and stumble blindly into the bathroom for the third time since crawling into bed just a few hours earlier. There’s no need to turn on the lights; I’ve made this middle-of-the-night journey thousands of times in the last few years, and I’ve learned the hard way to keep the path obstacle-free and to avoid being accidentally spooked by the baggy-eyed, pillow-creased, rat’s nest reflection in the mirror.
Some younger women may fantasize about sexy, shirtless firemen who will fulfill their wildest dreams (you know, cooking dinner AND cleaning up the kitchen afterward, putting dirty clothes in the hamper, cleaning toothpaste globs out of the bathroom sink), but as for me, I’d trade images of every sexy dude on the planet (and his culinary and cleaning skills, too) for night after night of cool, dry, uninterrupted sleep. Maybe I can’t speak for all my sweaty-lipped, flushed-faced, sleep-deprived sisters, but I’ll bet there are a few out there who would gladly make the same exchange. And since we’re fantasizing anyway, we might as well fill those fantasies with a few more dollops of wishful thinking.
This is what we want (what we really, really want) . . .
We want the senior discount–but we want you to ask if we qualify instead of just assuming that we do. Let us believe for a few precious moments that we don’t really look that old.
We want AARP to stop bombarding our mailboxes with membership applications. We signed our husbands up for AARP years ago, so we can reap those same benefits without actually admitting that we’re eligible.
We want a way to bottle the hot flashes of summer so we can release them in January and February to lower our winter heating bills and thaw the frozen pipes in the basement.
We want our adult children to answer our computer questions without being impatient or condescending. (“Hey, Mr. Smarty-Pants, I taught you how to tie your shoes and peepee in the potty–both of which took a tremendous amount of time and effort–so don’t be getting snarky with me if I don’t immediately know who my ISP is, how many bits my OS is, or how to convert RAW files to DNG.”)
We want Amazon to make same-day drone deliveries of chocolate chip cookies and bottles of wine when we’re in the middle of a menopausal meltdown.
We want whoever deemed the “dad bod” as sexy to give the same designation and respect to the “mom bod.”
We want industrial-strength (but still comfortable) bras that will take our previously-perky-bosoms-turned-dangling-sock-puppets and put them back where they belong—with no excess spillage out the back.
We want peppy little 20-somethings who tout the advantages of make-up free days and who insist they will grow old gracefully to just shut up.
We want our gynecologists to stop retiring–and to stop referring us to replacements who are younger than our own children. (Imagine lying on your back, staring at the ceiling, and attempting to make small talk: “So, who was your favorite Ninja Turtle?”)
We want our husbands to understand that (sometimes) our idea of getting lucky is finding our car keys in the first place we look for them–and that, when it comes to their idea of getting lucky, there’s a very thin line between not enough, just right, and “For the love of God, would you just be done with it so I can go to sleep!”
We want movie producers to cast leading men from our generation opposite leading ladies from our generation—instead of women who are 30 years their junior. Think Michelle Pfeiffer, think Meryl Streep and Holly Hunter and Julianne Moore—not 20-somethings Emma Stone and Jennifer Lawrence. And while we’re on the subject of movies, we want those same producers to realize our generation of women has more expendable income than any other (translation: we can buy over-priced tickets to your cinematic endeavors), and we can be entertained without the prolific use of profanity (we hate the f-word), violence (we’ll pass on the blood and gore) or nudity (naked 20-somethings just don’t do it for us).
We want just a few more days with our mothers so we can ask all the things we didn’t get a chance to ask and say all the things we forgot to say—just a few more days to show our love and let them know that, despite numerous, early indicators to the contrary, we turned out okay.
We want age-defying moisturizers that actually deliver what they promise—creams that fill in all those craters and crevices and destroy the evidence that we spent the 70’s slathered in baby oil and iodine.
We want the people who make tear-away warm-up pants for athletes to make tear-away nighties for us so that when we’re in the steamy throes of a hot flash (you thought I was going to say something else, didn’t you?), we can have cool-down relief in .02 seconds.
We want to remember why we walked into a room, what was on the grocery list we left lying on the counter at home, the names of our children on the first attempt, when and why we stashed $87 worth of coins in a Walmart bag under the bed.
We want to weigh what our driver’s license says we weigh.
We want hairs to stop disappearing from places where they’re expected to grow–and to stop sprouting in places they should never be.
We want the men in our lives to understand that when we say, “I’m fine,” sometimes we really are—and sometimes we really, really aren’t. And we want them to intuitively know which is which and to respond accordingly.
We want those same men to assure us that all the other women our age look much older than we do (brownie points if they can also say—with a straight face—that some of our younger friends look older than we do, too).
We want our health insurance plans to pay for deep-tissue massages, cosmetic overhauls, wine tastings, and gym memberships. Since we no longer need birth control prescriptions or pre-natal care benefits, this is only fair.
We want all clothing manufacturers to use uniform sizing. If we can hold our breath and successfully zip up a size 6 in one store, a size 6 in the next store shouldn’t be trapped around our cankles.
We want manufacturers to stop using tiny, blurry print so we can read labels, tags and packages without pulling out a super-duper magnifying glass.
We want to be invited to Friday night shenanigans, but we want them to start early and end early so we can be in bed early.
And we want everyone to stop telling us that we look “pretty good for your age” or that we shouldn’t be doing that/saying that/wearing that “at your age.” The first is not a compliment, and the second is pretty much a guarantee that we will, in fact, do/say/wear whatever we dang well please (even if we wouldn’t have before you told us we shouldn’t).
We’re not totally selfish and narcissistic, we women “of a certain age”; we’ve devoted decades to taking care of our families instead of ourselves, and we still dream of world peace, of an end to childhood hunger and debilitating disease, of a presidential candidate who doesn’t make us queasy. But sometimes, ahhh sometimes . . . we just can’t help fantasizing about zero-calorie cheesecake and half-off coupons for tummy tucks. I could go on and on, but it’s time to massage some Aspercreme into my aching joints, chug-a-lug my morning spinach and blueberry protein smoothie, try to figure out why my cars keys are in the refrigerator, and attempt to button my jeans.
What conditions exist in your fantasy world?
“I don’t believe in aging. I believe in forever altering one’s aspect to the sun.”
“Do not grow old, no matter how long you live. Never cease to stand like curious children before the great mystery into which we were born.”—Albert Einstein
“Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”