While life doesn't necessarily get any easier, it can, thank God, get funnier
The assumption is that if I drive an SUV just the name of the vehicle itself will transform me into the outdoorsy type of woman who fly fishes, hikes, reads Outdoor magazine, and has unlimited credit at Eddie Bauer. Just the name alone of my $40k vehicle will provide me with an identity that 25 years of therapy and 1,000 self-help books couldn't. Behind the wheel of a SUV (as long as I keep my Easy Spirit shoes hidden) I can become this woman, wind blowing in my hair, conquering rough off-road terrain (even if the only rough terrain I ever have to deal with are speed bumps and potholes of the mall parking lot).
I'm not old! I'm not middle-aged! If I can pay enough for a vehicle with the right name, I can be adventurous. Questing the territory! Roving the Land! Outdoorsy. Tough. I like to refer to this transformation as the Thelma and Louise Syndrome.
Thelma and Louise Syndrome occurs when otherwise sane, stable, and well-behaved women feel an uncontrollable compulsion to leave their homes and behave like teenagers, occasionally like tramps or, in extreme cases, like men. In addition to occasional excessive liquor consumption the following behaviors are associated with Thelma and Louise Syndrome;
-Nonsmoker smoking. These are "non-smoking" women who, when exposed to liquor-oriented environments, will light up and puff like the chimneys of London. Girls Night Out smokers cite the following rationalizations; "I only smoke when I drink," "The other girls made me do it," or "I didn't inhale." Afraid of being discovered and admonished by their vigilante children these women hide their tobacco usage with gum, perfume, and curiously strong breath mints.
-Girl-girl dancing. When the amount of liquor consumed exceeds a woman's maximum-intake limit the victim will lose her inhibitions and succumb to the temptations of girl-girl dancing. For many women, same-sex dancing is no big deal. They've been doing it, by default, since junior high. But even the most conservative woman who believes dancing should always be a male-female activity will bolt to the dance floor when certain songs are played and enough alcohol has been consumed. An experiment conducted by the Radcliffe Institute for the Advanced Study of Girl-Girl Dancing, researchers found that 90 percent of all women, after consuming an average of 2.8 cocktails, will knowingly dance without male partners to the following songs:
Devil with the Blue Dress On
Stop In the Name of Love
I Will Survive
Hey Mickey, You're so Fine, You're so Fine You Blow My Mind, Hey Mickey!
-Karaoke compulsion. Like girl-girl dancing, a turn at the karaoke microphone can prove irresistible to a woman under the influence of Thelma and Louise Syndrome. Again, peer pressure and liquor consumption come into play as a woman will, against her better judgment, humiliate herself on stage in a roomful of strangers with an off-key rendition of "The Way We Were" or "Crazy." Statistics have proven that 98 percent of all karaoke experiences end badly, with flashbacks often continuing for years after the performance. Recently, a national karaoke awareness organization launched a bumper-sticker campaign targeting women on Girls Night Out. Their Slogan? FRIENDS DON'T LET FRIENDS SING KARAOKE!
My friends and I have been fantasizing about "The Diva Weekend." I mean Girls Night Out was okay in our thirties but it's just not enough anymore. We are no longer satisfied by the occasional night out. The Diva Weekend would involve wilder nights, hotel shenanigans and unconstrained shopping in big, cosmopolitan cities. In New York's Rockefeller Plaza you can always spot diva weekenders vying for face time on the Today Show or Good Morning America. Perfectly coifed, but slightly dazed from the night before, these are the women wearing foam Statue of Liberty crowns and holding signs that say, "Hi, Kids! Send Money! Spent Traveler's Checks on Bail!"
Personally, I've been having some extreme hormone changes that're leading me into some kind of puberty déjà vu. Uncontrollable weeping, a new wardrobe from Abercrombie & Fitch, the desire to wear body glitter and hair paint to work and use phrases like, "like," "dude, that rocks" and "he's all that, girlfriend, uh-huh."
If you can relate to this, the best advice I can give you is to keep these urges in check, no matter what the cost. My friend wanted to do something wild on her fortieth birthday so after two pitchers of margaritas, we made our way to the local tattoo parlor. She chose a cute little Cupid and had it applied to her right buttock. I could tell she suddenly felt like a new woman with a sexy secret! Her husband loved it too! Unfortunately now seven years and thirty-five pounds later, Cupid looks a lot like the Pillsbury Dough Boy after a carbohydrate binge and she's forced to get undressed in a dark closet for the rest of her days.
I'm currently considering writing a book, "Midlife, Schmidlife, Just Thank God You're Not Dead!" I mean let's face it, just reaching middle age is a victory. Consider the odds we have beaten in our reckless youth: riding bikes without helmets, driving cars without seatbelts, second-hand smoke in restaurants and airplanes, listening to rock and roll at deafening levels, jogging without sports bras....It's a wonder we're still alive.
In addition to now being "over" 50, I've also been thinking about my 34 year class reunion coming up next year in Chicago. First, didn't I just graduate from high school only about 10 years ago? I'm a really old enough to be thinking about a 35 year reunion of anything!? I'm guess I'm having what you could call, "Reunion Nervosa." I'm dealing with denial, bargaining (Trying to make deals with God like; "If you help me lose forty pounds by next Tuesday I promise to return all those Mel Gibson DVD's to Blockbuster."), wrinkles, depression, acceptance and reality. Yep, reality. The reality of how I got to be so old, so fast, and now, what am I going to do about it? The upside is I guess I will no longer have to consider answering questions like, "What will I say if tomorrow someone asks me to pose for Playboy?"
And, I will remember that fortunately, while life doesn't necessarily get any easier as you get older, it can, thank God, get funnier.