When you think about growing old, you don’t think about aging.
You think about some far-distant future in which you are wrinkled and gray and adorable. You imagine your life as a powdered lemonade-mix commercial in which you and your fellow old farts sit on a porch and play checkers.
You quip like Betty White. You dance like Robert Morse. You shock like Cloris Leachman.
But in reality, you don’t do any of those things. What nobody tells you is that you don’t go from ironic black handlebar mustache to unironic gray handlebar mustache overnight. Aging is a process. A slow, degenerative, ultimately futile process.
I am now experiencing that process. And it sucks.
Decades of ritualistic application of sunscreen to my face has largely spared me the kind of lines someone my age might expect. But I sorta forgot to apply said sunscreen to my neck and chest, and now I look like someone Photoshopped a 30-year-old’s face onto a 50-year-old’s neck.
I have been applying my baby’s 50-proof sunscreen to my neck and chest every day in a desperate effort to reverse the effect, but all it has done so far is make me smell weirdly medicinal. And what could be more “old lady” than smelling weirdly medicinal?
For years, I stood on the sidelines of the debate about youth-worship in this country. I didn’t know what all the fuss was about. If you are trying to sell bathing suits, doesn’t it just make more sense to use a 20-year-old model than a 60-year-old?
But now, as I see former mentors getting laid off the moment they turn 50, I sympathize. It’s not about beauty. I’ve read one report where 20 percent of Baby Boomers have experienced age discrimination when seeking employment—all those people couldn’t possibly be swimsuit models.
So now I want to look youthful, not for vanity’s sake, but to maintain my claim on this here planet. I never leave the house without mascara, and I am considering ways to make my hair look fuller (is scalping a 20-year-old legal?). I’m not sure I’d go under the knife to preserve a youthful appearance, but the further south my boobs migrate, the more viable an option that seems.
I’m aging, and, wow, it sucks. So if you’re in your 30s and you’re reading this, remember to apply sunscreen to your neck and chest. And if you’re in your 20s and you’re reading this, watch out. You might be coming for my job, but I’m coming for your scalp.
Mayrav Saar is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles.