A size-two walks by with the right answer to a film we are working on. She is beautiful. She is young. She got it right. “Terrific,” you say. It is not her fault that she is perfect and smart and half your age.
And the bronchitis lingers. You caught it from her. She whipped it in a week. You’re on to a thousand coughs and a thousand sleepless nights. She didn’t mean to have a great immune system. It’s not her fault.
Philip Roth depresses you. Does he have to be so brilliant about exits and ghosts? Why does Zuckerman have to be an aging curmudgeon and incontinent while forgetting to change his urine-stinking diaper? Any one of these signs of decay would have been enough.
And how about the woman who grabbed you on the Saks escalator? You didn’t need an outfit anyway. “Sheila, Sheila. Sheila Nevins. Remember me? Roberta Melznik, we graduated the same year from Barnard.” “Oh, yes, Roberta. Of course, I remember you.” ( I don’t.) Children? Yes. Grandchildren? Five. Wow. All Boys? Great. Harvard? Great. Oh, sorry. Two Husbands. One Dead. Oh, sorry. Life. Gottagogottago.
Roberta Melznik is old. She is my age. In my graduating class no less. Her hair is gray. She is plumpish. She let herself be old. I hate her. Or do I respect her? What the fuck am I so upset about? Damn it. Who needed Roberta Melznik anyway?
Is it the 20 extra pounds since college that’s got me angry? The low-hanging boobs time sent my way? The high-heeled shoes that now hurt? Didn’t used to. Is it the affair I do/don’t want and, anyway, it’s too late. Is it? Is it the look on a baby-colleague’s face when I draw a blank on a name or don’t know the band called somethingorother? Oh, yes. I think I’ve heard of them. Liar. What is it that panics me so?
I think it’s death. Not probably. Death. And age. Why can’t I have the grace of this aging? Does anyone ever whistle anymore? I want to meet Mother Time with a pas de deux. A curtsey for the scythe. A refined readiness. That’s all. Is all. Why, oh, why can’t I …
I want to celebrate the 60s of my life. My Mom never made it. My Dad gave it to three packs a day. Why am I hiding? I am a product of magazine covers that screech: “Young at any price. Buy me!” The saleslady that says the ill-fitting clothes look great on me and make me look young. Sold! To me the fool who buys the spiel. Please, God, I’m an atheist who wants to look young. I have enough Botox pleading with my wrinkles to detonate Iran. And I’m not even into politics.
Why can’t I go gracefully into gravity? This aging terror. Why can’t I bellow on Times Square to the disinterested passersby, “60-61-62-63-64-65 … and counting.” Say it. Say it loud. Who am I fooling really? The health plan told the doctor and he knows. The dentist sees my teeth and he knows. And Google told Wikipedia. What’s the big secret? So hear my blogging. It’s time sensitive. There – I said it to you all.