Sunday, September 5, 2010
I hate the end of summer. Even a horrid, tense, unpredictable one like the one that just ended. I love the heat and the lack of structure. I love summer food. The bright flavors that explode on your tongue. The lush, licentious bounty of fruits and vegetables warm and sticky with juice in the sun. I like seeing my wide-spread toes in a pair of sandals. It's late summer for the earth and late summer, or maybe even autumn, for me.
I’m addicted to a friend's online novel, the blackberry diet and talking to women friends who all seem to be in the same place. Wondering what love and sex means in your late thirties and forties and then your 50s and 60s, often with a kid or two, some half-grown, and perhaps some exhusbands or even current ones.
In America, love and sexuality are almost synonymous with adolescence - or very late adolescence, perhaps dragged out into your early twenties. A pretty woman is unconsciously sexual, it's all about youth, fragility and honesty. Sweetness.
An older woman reeks of seduction, premeditated manipulation. All the most evil things in American culture.
That's why, when you watch classic American movies, the bad guy is always the one who is too slick. He speaks too many languages, he knows how to dress, he’s suave, too sophisticated. He turns into American Psycho. In a love story, he always loses to the young, earnest guy. The simple, honest one who’s socially awkward but on the straight and narrow.
So who are our role models? We’re still sexual and physically active (not just gardening). We’re not ready to morph into the comfortable, sweater-wearing wives of 15 or 20 years. But we don’t want to be Mrs. Robinson either.
It feels like the only option to baggy sweaters is a fire-engine red lipstick and a tight décolleté.
In America, au naturel, we are no longer sweet. We are invisible. Dressed up, we are attractive but deadly. For an older woman, it seems like the only choice is self-consciousness. Careful grooming. Botox. Plastic surgery that leaves your face sharp as a mask and your breasts like torpedos.
I’m in love (but who knows what that means now?) with a 28 year-old. Does that mean I’m a cougar with fresh blood dripping from my lips?
One friend just wants a nice intellectual but can’t figure out how you meet them. Online dating seems cold and unseemly, the realm of college students, not writers. Another friend is pulling off her bra at Hogs and Heifers. Another is focusing all her attention on her kids. Not one of us really knows how to be sexy without being indecorous.
I love seeing young girls, all long-limbs and false bravado. I live with three, so I don’t wish I could go backwards. But I miss knowing which step to take. For the first time since I was 15, I feel ungainly and unsure of myself.
If we’re single, the romantic choices that become our station are divorced or widowed men in their mid to late 60s or even 70s in well-cut suits. Gently graying, cynical and world-weary. Emotionally, they proceed with caution rather than passion.
We need to reinvent ourselves.
I’d still like moments of innocence in my relationships. I like surprise and – I’m an American – I’m still attracted to honesty. The scent of clean skin. A just-washed t-shirt. A smile in the morning with no make-up. My women friends and I all want something simple and warm. We don't want danger or violence. We want earnestness. Passion.
Is that possible now? And if it is, where do you find it – so that it feels real, not botoxed or silicone or collagen-enhanced? How do you do it so it feels easy. So you can walk out holding hands and not feel like you are mutton dressed as lamb. Come on, baby boomers, give us a heads-up. Diane Keaton can’t be the best you have to offer. One of the few women writers who knows how to do it is Catherine Texier. Anyone else to give us a map?
It’s the end of summer and there’s always that sudden heatwave. The air gets thick and hot and you wonder if the calendar slipped backwards. I always liked the line in Madonna’s “Material Girl,” “experience has made me rich and now they all want me…”