Wednesday, March 11, 2009

So you're scared and you're thinking that maybe you ain't that young anymore

I’ve been having mixed feelings about the gray streak I’m getting. When I first noticed it, I felt sentimental. My mother’s now entirely silver bob began the same way. It was like I’d uncovered a family heirloom right beneath my bangs. I mean, it’s not like I’m getting old, right? How could I be? I still get carded. I wear t-shirts I bought in high school. I played a drinking game last Saturday for Christ’s sake!

But a few nights ago, I stood in front of my mirror plucking out each gray hair, my eyes wandering from my hairline to grooves in my forehead to the puckered skin at the corners of my eyes. My face is starting to look an unmade bed, and I’m too immature to even make my bed regularly! It’s as if I suddenly realized I’m in the middle of my turn in Mario Kart before I learned how to work the joystick.

But last night I went to see my dear friend Marisa in a variety show called “The Snarks Unlimited” put on by her all-female theater company The Snarks. Definitely one of the weirdest experiences I’ve come across in New York. My beautiful friend played the ingénue, and while her role was well-deserved, being the only woman under 50 onstage might have had something to do with the casting. For an hour and a half, I watched august women shuffle-ball-change in sexy corsets, freestyle about the history of their theater group, and make out with the barely legal men they’d commissioned to play the male roles. When an acned 19-year-old ambushed one those silver haired foxes and thrust his groin against her backside, I accidentally swallowed my gum.

God bless these women. Ten minutes into the show, watching ladies sashay about in hats as big as tires and belt out “Yankee Doodle” I worried I’d been transported to dawning of WWI. But these women were wild, gregarious, funny! I remember taking a theater class when I was eight and being scolded for being “hammy.” Watching the show last night, I regretted pocketing that criticism. Just think of how refined my hamminess could be now if I had cultivated it when it just beginning to sprout.

(It actually reminded me to tell you of another one of my personal obsessions, the Miss Senior America competition. I’ve wanted to see and write about the pageant for years. I don’t know whether I find it inspiring or grotesque, like a really graphic picture of elephantitis you find on the internet and can’t look away from.)

Let me be clear, that’s NOT how I feel about The Snarks. Last night, I saw a group of women celebrating a strong mutual sense of self. And with this gray streak taking over my head I need to know that’s what I’m working toward, celebrating all of my beauty. It seems like we spend so much of youth letting our beauty make us miserable.

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