Sunday, 22 July 2007

Age published July 22

I turned 45 on Thursday the same week that cute little weather girl Toni Marsh was furiously trying to tell everyone she was no where near 40. Apparently she’s nearly 39 and someone had to rock up to Births, Deaths and Marriages to find out. I’m okay about admitting my age because secretly I know people really think I’m 35.
This year I’ve even started growing the grey streak back into the front of my hair, just so people will look at me and say: “Well she must be 45 she has that grey streak, if she was 35 she’d be dying it.”
And actually I’m more likely to tell people I’m older than I am because I can never quite remember what year I’m in or what year I was born.
I’m also quite happy for someone to look up my birth certificate to prove that I’m 10 years older than I am but to save you the bother it was July 19, 1962, North Shore Hospital. You’ll notice my name was originally Wendy, but it was altered to Wendyl when I was 10 months old. I tell people my parents had a huge weekend and decided to invent a new name for me. They deny this furiously (the bit about the huge weekend, the name is quite obviously made up) and while we’re at it Mum would like it if I mentioned something positive about her for once. She won at bridge this week. Got a silver cup and $50.
That same week I was also struck for the very first time with the knowledge that I had at least 40 years still to go if you take the average life expectancy for a Kiwi woman is 81.9. I’ve added 3.1 years for good behaviour. What an awfully long time to fill when you’ve already got a career, given birth four times, learned how to cook, sew, garden, read without moving your lips and have decent sex. What will I do with those 40 years? I’ve started doing the crossword.
Someone suggested affairs with younger men are all the go when you have a bit of time on your hands. I asked my husband what it would be like from the man’s point of view to watch an older woman take her clothes off in front of you. Would she be best to insist on lights out, take some E so that it didn’t really matter or give him a guided tour to the scars your life has left on you? Fell off the bike coming home from tennis, first baby stretch marks, second, third and fourth baby stretch marks, skin cancer removal, episiotomy scar times four. My husband suggested leaving out the episiotomy because young men don’t know what that is.
I had a dinner for my birthday. The friends I invited were different from the friends I invited the year before and the year before that. Some were the same, obviously I don’t go through friends quite that quickly, but none of them were at my 35th birthday. Age does that.
I refrained from screaming in a pissed way at my birthday lunch with the girls that I’d “bought myself Botox for my birthday!” as I once heard an older women in full flight at SPQR. If I did that I’d then have to scream: “And in 10 years when my liver gives up trying to cleanse my body of botulism I’ll die!”
At 45 my body has never been better. Not in a Nicky Watson tanned and terrific way,but in a healthy way because age tells you that it’s best if nothing goes in without evidence that it was created naturally. And that it’s quite good to do some exercise every day. A cold or flu contemplates settling in for a week of battle with my immune system and runs screaming from the room after 24 hours. And my body and brain have spent enough time working together that they combine to get me home before I start making a fool of myself in public places.
But the best thing about being 45 was turning up for a photo shoot for former editors of the New Zealand Woman’s Weekly where I was admonished by another former editor for not following the brief of wearing “black and white.” I hadn’t read the brief; at 45 you read books, not briefs. But it didn’t matter because at 45 you don’t have to do white. You can do whatever the f..k you like. Toni Marsh might quite like that when she gets there.

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