This past weekend the Goat and I drove to Houston for his brother’s birthday. The youngest of five siblings, John was turning 60. The age differences that once seemed huge are shrinking: 60 to 66 (the Goat’s age) is a lot more compatible than, say, 14 to 20. Maybe it’s just that when we’re younger, every birthday makes us a little more grown up, a bit more removed from the “mere children” that surround us. By the time we’re 60, none of us are young’uns, and it just doesn’t matter as much.
Then there’s the flip side. I think age is more of an attitude than a number, and we can choose to have a good attitude or a bad one. At 65 (65 and 1/2, the Goat would point out), I was the second oldest in chronological age at the celebration. But chronological age isn’t nearly as important at attitudinal age. You see, in my mind I’m still 35 years old, which is really weird since my oldest daughter is pushing 40.
A couple of months ago, a much younger acquaintance told me she thought of me as “closer to fifty.” I smiled and thanked her without revealing I was “closer to seventy.” Since we had previously bonded over Daniel Craig’s tight-leather-pants-encased rear end in Cowboys and Aliens, it could be she was just wrangling for an invitation to peruse his anatomy should I ever meet the man in person. Whatever the case, if you ask me, the ability to appreciate a good-looking derriere is part of a good attitudinal age, and it happens to be my super power.
But sometimes reality comes along, smacks attitude right across the chops and makes a girl think, “Oh, yeah, I guess I really am old.” It’s even worse when the smack is delivered by a good friend.
This happened to me because of my third-favorite movie of all time: Practical Magic, a romantic sort-of comedy about a family of witches with a long history of being unlucky in love. The younger witches are played by Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman, and their elderly aunts by Stockard Channing and Dianne Wiest. My friend and I want to be herbalists when we grow up (having something to be when you “grow up” is a big part of a good attitudinal age), and we both have a yen to brew up secret potions, chant strange words and dance in the moonlight. In other words, be witches.
Back to the point. My friend called me up one day to say she had just watched Practical Magic on TV and that it had reminded her of the two of us. “Ohhh,” I said, “which one am I: Sandra Bullock or Nicole Kidman?”
Without missing a beat, my friend replied, “Well, I was thinking of the two old aunts, but you can be Stockard Channing.”
It hit me like an antique brick right between my crow-footed eyes: I really am old. When did that happen?
Then again, I am Stockard Channing. I bet she’s a butt-watcher, too, and not a day over 35 in her mind! Take that, Sandra!