Insure your car, home and valuables with iWYZE
Last week I found a hair. It wasn’t long – about half a centimetre. It wasn’t grey or wiry. In fact, it was fine and blonde and looked vaguely appealing in a Russian sort of way. But it was attached. To me. To my chin. My chinny-chin-chin. Overnight, I had become Wolf Woman.
I found the tweezers. Couldn’t see. Fumbled for my contact lenses. Tweezed again. Finally I pincered the sucker, deposited it in the dead orchid – and then phoned my mother. “It’s all your fault!” I howled. “I’m getting your hairs. And your eyes. And yesterday I bought a triple-pack of secret socks. They were white, mum. White.”
I know. It was unfair. My mother is a nice woman who let me shave purple diamonds into the back of my hair and go to the Golden Egg wearing shepherd’s robes stolen from her Sunday school cupboard. But that was when I was young. Now I’m getting old, and I’m getting her stuff. And that’s just downright unfair.
But what’s more unfair are women’s magazines. I stopped buying Cosmopolitan years ago when I realised that even if I scooped the Three Orgasms To Be Won This Month, I wouldn’t be able to muster the energy to collect them from the post office, let alone put them to good use. I then switched to fitness magazines, but all that talk of flax seeds and cranberries left me feeling sympathetically constipated and strangely Methodist, and I would end up craving three bottles of wine and 15 cigarettes.
So it was with some trepidation that I recently bought an age-appropriate magazine – a nice, thick tome aimed at us nice, thickening women over 40. It started well. There was a feature about Joanna Lumley in which she enthused about how she loves being the age she is (32 when airbrushed, nearly 70 when she’s woken up after too many vodkas). “Ah, yes, Joanna,” I thought, “it truly is great to be approaching pterodactyl age. We don’t care what people think. We know what an amuse bouche is. We’ve given birth and we can still wear thigh-high boots.”
Then things took a turn for the worse. As I paged through the magazine, I read lots of stories about how great it is to be old and how combining vertical stripes with mini-skirts won’t make us look like muttons, but rather saucy young lambs with wise wrinkles. There were also numerous quotes from real women – Debbies from Sandton, Nontandos from Randburg – who said they would rather be their current age than be 23 again. Eh? Who are they trying to kid?
When I was 23, I could stay awake past 10pm, run a half-marathon with a hangover, read Nietzsche without thinking he was on drugs, remember the plot of The Breakfast Club and remember the name of my dentist (and then remember I didn’t have to remember it because my molars were firmly intact). I might not have been wise at 23, but I believed in wisdom. I believed in the power of Black Label. I believed in the power of the spiral perm. I believed in Bryan Adams. And I believed in improvising – during exams, during dates with botanists, during open-mic sessions where I would always start singing Summertime an octave too high.
Now I couldn’t improvise a scripted improvisation of an improvised Milo advert. Because it’s not marvellous what Milo – or flax seeds, moisturiser, Botox or vertical stripes – can do for you. The fact is, we’re getting old. Period. We have lines we hate and lines we forget, and we should take a cue from Queen Elizabeth and wear a lot of yellow. At least it will match our teeth.
It’s interesting there are no mainstream magazines targeting older men. Men’s magazines are lumped into three categories: men who like cars and bikes, men who like sticking their hands up the bums of cows and men who like to work out and look at women in beach attire.
If you flick through GQ or Men’s Health, there are no stories suggesting that if you’re above a certain age, you should consider wearing jeans that skim your big toe or board-shorts that cover your boep while accentuating your hard-won crow’s feet. And there certainly aren’t stirring first-person accounts of The Day Gary Discovered He Likes Being Really Old, or How Thabo Discovered That Even Though His Knees Are Screwed, He’s Glad He’s So Wise And Self-Secure.
The moral of the story? Women’s magazines either want us to be filled with fear or to justify ourselves. And I don’t buy it. In fact, I don’t buy it enough to buy it. So instead of subscribing to their mountain of warped self-reflection, I have subscribed to National Geographic.
A least the mountains are truly old and wise, and the only self-reflection one gets involves realising just how insignificant human beings are. It will take more than a hair on a chinny-chin-chin to blow the world down.