It’s my 60th birthday. I’m getting a tattoo of puckered lips done on my ass, painting my nails purple and doing my first sky dive. If not now, when? On my 50th birthday, I became “Don’t-Fuck-With-Me 50” and celebrated by giving myself the gift of never taking any crap from anyone ever again. When I turned 40, I entered an early menopause. Not that anyone could tell from my mood swings. I’d always been a bitch. At thirty I became one of “those people” nobody in my generation was supposed to trust. I got drunk and stayed in bed all day. My 20th I don’t even remember. It was the late sixties. It was San Francisco. There’s a whole decade missing.
I recently received one of those e-mails that touts the wisdom and gifts of age and asks if you’d trade those for the taut body, smooth skin and turkey-free neck of youth. The correct answer is supposed to be no. Bullshit. I’d give it all up just for a functioning vagina.
I came of age in the late 60’s, about the same time as the sexual revolution. I had just graduated from high school and turned 18. To mark the occasion, my mother took me to the doctor and had me put on the pill. Some of my peers received luggage. I took this as her blessing to screw my way deep into the double-digits and, over the next two decades, that’s exactly what I did. It was a time of bra-burning and free love and although I never actually burned my bra, a series of disastrous relationships over the years taught me that the guys were definitely getting a far better deal than I was on the “free love” end. This realization kicked in right around the same time as my hormones, and hence libido, took a nosedive. Too bad. Now, almost 20 years later, I sometimes think I might like to try again. Unfortunately, the pipes are rusted out at this point. Apparently, you have to fire up the engine every so often in order to keep things running. Who knew? Sure, I could have taken hormone replacement therapy, but we all know how that turned out. Would it really be asking so much for those parts to just come with a warning label? Use it or lose it.
I’m sure I could have married had I just had the good sense to fall in love with someone who was actually in love with me, but I think you really have to want to be married. I could never get with that whole sharing and compromise thing. They always expected me to do some. Also, having grown up with Donna Reed and The Brady Bunch as TV role models in a household where my mother more closely resembled Patty Duke in “Valley of the Dolls” and Dad was nowhere to be found, you’ll not be surprised by my ambivalence to the idea. Though now, at this stage of my life, with so many of my friends divorced and receiving nice, fat cash settlements and alimony for life, it is possibly my one regret.
I spent much of my life as a free-lance television writer, which means I spent much of my life unemployed. Last week I saw a homeless woman, all her worldly belongings piled haphazardly in an Albertson’s shopping cart, and couldn’t help but wonder if somewhere in there were all her unsold screenplays. I gave her twenty dollars, certain that the only real difference between us was that I had a better FICO score. Were it not for the abundance of credit card companies who were well aware of my complete lack of financial discipline and more than happy to support it, that woman might have been me. Although, even when things looked their murkiest, I have always believed “There’s always a way,” words drilled into me by my mother and, sure enough, something has come along just in time to pull my butt from the fire. I’ve often wondered how my mother could have had such faith when her life was so difficult and have concluded that while she couldn’t save herself, she was hell-bent on saving me… And she did.
I don’t worry much about the future. Maybe at my age I should start, but in truth not one moment is guaranteed to any of us, so it’s best to just enjoy where you are. Also, I am a person for whom immediate gratification is a religion. This is why I have no IRA, as well. Sometimes I watch The Suze Orman Show and imagine her going off on me in a rage, thinking it might get me to change my ways. It hasn’t. It’s become like watching The Food Network thinking it will motivate me to cook. Never happens. No, I’m afraid the thought of socking away money for some future need was just never a philosophy that took hold with me. Not when there were just so many great ways to spend it in the present. My passion and financial downfall have been horses, and I wouldn’t have missed a minute with them. What if I had sacrificed that joy only to die before I could spend what I’d saved? That would totally suck. And after all, there’s still that great FICO score. Much better to die up to my ass in debt and having had a helluva a good time. Besides, I’m sure one of those divorced friends of mine with money will take me in.
Lessons from the ICU
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