Retirement Talk

WHAT to do with the rest of your life?




                                                      Chapter Four

                                 A Pick-Me-Up, Okay Maybe

Have to get in a few words from a female friend, going on eighty, who was a model, fifty or sixty years ago, and according to her --in spite of, how we, the elderly lose points because of our dried up visage—looking great isn’t a big plus either-- at least according to Darla.
I’m calling her Darla, not her real name, as she calls everyone, “Darling.” 

According to the psychology and sociology textbooks, good looks are a big plus, as the more attractive students received more attention from the teacher, the good looking workers make higher salaries, and the attractive politician gets more votes.

But as a salve to this unfairness, the goodlooking woman in her old age has a harder time coping with her loss, than the plain woman.  This is a nice and reassuring message.  But is it true?

Anyhow with this premise tucked in my shoulder bag, I visited Darla.  She often discussed her career in the beauty business, as so many women find it a classy and urbane subject, except Darla doesn’t. Maybe because she’s been there, done that.  But at the same time she wants to give people inside dope, as they appear so interested.

On the other hand, Darla was a model back when the clothing business was a trade, not an art, and before models were celebrities making $10,000 a day. So, after lunch we sat in my car in front of her house and talked, or rather Darla talked.  I wanted to get her viewpoint on her loss of beauty in her old age.

“Darling, I’ve got to tell you,” Darla said, “I’m a lot happier now than I was when I was young and at my peak.  No more criticism, no more dumb as a doornail.  No more women hating me because I make them feel inferior. No more comments like, “I wonder how she escaped being institutionalized for retardation, she’s so thick in the head.”

“You’re not thick in the head, and you still look pretty good, Darla,” I said.

“Oh, please, Darling.  I’m an old bag and I know it.  I’m so over the hill, I’m down on the other side and I don’t care.”

“But, “ I said, “You said last week, that you were a make-up junkie.  Old bags aren’t make-up junkies.”

“I’m someone,” Darla said, “who can’t give the stuff up; I mean I’d feel naked without it.  I’m addicted. It’s like, I could give up face paint—well-- maybe when I can give up bungee jumping.”

“So, “I’ replied, “Back to the beauty business.”  Darla and bungee jumping-- that would be the day.

“Well, let me go intellectual on you, Darling.” Darla was her high school valedictorian  and definitely not thick-headed. “Beauty isn’t all it’s cracked up to be,” she said.  “Envy is a big cause of social friction in this country.  Keeping up with the Jones and all that.  Well, as the culture cultivated admiration for monetary wealth they didn’t for beauty.  “So lots of envy—no admiration. 

It was: “Look at her, her bra straps showing?”

“And she’s a model.”

“She’s not so hot.”

“Heard her husband’s running around on her.”

“She’s probably rolling around in bed with all those upper class dudes.”

‘I heard her husband went into a rage and yanked her off the dance floor.”

“She’s so dumb, why would anyone want her for a friend.”

I interrupted, “So tell me about beauty. To most of us, it looks like about the greatest gift a person can have, furthermore,  it’s a closed shop for most people.”

“Well, Darling, when I die, everyone can sigh with relief. Phew! She got hers.  It’s about time.  She’s been around long enough, making other women feel like dog shit. Did you know almost all the witches burned at the stake were beauties, believed to get their beauty because they were in cahoots with the devil?  Plus, if beauty’s so great why do surveys show models have the lowest self-esteem of any group of women?

I’m telling you, Darling, nobody likes beauties and they like to believer when the beauty grows old she goes through pain over the loss of her looks, but I’ve got one on them—old age is great and I love being old.  You have no idea how great it is—no more criticism, no more jealousy, no more hate--just peace, friendships and acceptance.  How lucky I am to be alive, and now have this old painted, prune face.”

“Let’s go inside,” I said, “I need a drink.”



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