When I Am Old…overheard in a dressing room

The other day I went for lunch with an old friend who I hadn’t seen for some time. I ordered a large plate of pasta which came with a side of garlic bread. Carbs, carbs and more carbs. I reasoned that I could justify this by skipping dinner later but that’s a tale for another day!

After lunch we headed to the shops. I fell in love with a skirt; black with a funky edging on the hem. It looked like a skirt I might have worn back in my early twenties. With visions of a whole new look opening up to me (I currently live in jeans – skinny, boyfriend, flares – if it’s denim I’m wearing it basically), I headed for the changing rooms. Note to self: do not indulge in pasta before trying on clothes. Needless to say I had to go up a size. So while sweating my way into the larger size (and feeling like Nelly the elephant) I was distracted by the fascinating conversation going on outside my cubicle. Two young girls who worked in the shop were discussing their gym habits.

I only zoned in on what they were saying when I heard; “Yeah she is there, like 45 and like has 4 kids and she isn’t even sweating and I’m like 25 and have no kids and I was struggling to keep up with her.” Her friend joined in with enthusiasm stating how embarrassing it was not to be able to keep up with the old ones. Now I’m 35 and have only one child but I immediately felt a kinship with this poor woman. I would in no way be able to keep up with her either but I felt for her cast in the role of ‘old one’ by these two young women who have yet to know the cruelty of gravity. I’m sure she doesn’t feel old and when did 45 become ‘old’ anyway? But then to a 20-something anything over 30 is positively archaic.

They were silent for a while and I continued my struggle with the skirt. I had managed to get it on but then couldn’t decide if I really liked it or not. One of the girls piped up as I was mulling over my decision.

“You know you can’t have long hair when you are in your thirties or forties.”

News to me! I tragically can’t wear long hair anyway as mine refuses to grow past my shoulder and is a lank and dismal mess when longer anyway. But I never knew long hair was such a no no past the age of thirty. I made a note to inform my friend as she turns 30 this month (we giggled over this later).

I passed the girl on my way out and she had gloriously long blonde hair. It would be a shame to have to cut it once ‘old age’ beckons. Personally I have always thought it would be joyful to have a bounty of deliciously white hair when I am past a certain age. But my hair will never be bountiful. Perhaps I will have to get a wig!

How young these two girls seemed to me; such strict rules for ageing and fashion. Have they never heard Jenny Joseph’s wonderfully age defying poem ‘When I Am An Old Woman I Shall Never Wear Purple’; it sticks its tongue out at such ridiculous strictures.

But I too remember being that young. When 30 seemed eons away and 40 was practically an old crone. However, I grew up and these young girls will too. I hope that when they do they will gain the wisdom to care not a jot for rules and regulations but follow their own sense of style, whatever that may be.

Oh and I bought the skirt….but very much think I will return it!


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