It’s funny the kinds of things that change as we age. When I was in my 20s, I remember being able to do exactly what Glenn Frey and Don Henley wrote about vis-à-vis city girls in Lyin’ Eyes — I knew “how to open doors with just a smile.” And they were right.
In those days, working in Manhattan and having not much more to worry about than how to avoid getting my high heels caught in subway gratings (or in the slats of the old escalator in Macy’s Herald Square), I had that power. It seemed like a mere smile at a well-dressed man would result in a door literally being held open, a subway seat being vacated, and eyes following as I walked along, feeling good about being young, being in New York, and being able to attract that kind of attention.
Okay, now fast forward nearly four decades (and yes, it does go fast). Doors are still opened by young men, although more because I remind them of their mothers (who, by the way, raised them well if they’re opening doors) or, OMG say it isn’t so, their grandmothers. And, as I’ve written previously, young men seem to leap out of their subway seats if I’m standing (although I am happy enough to remain vertical). And a smile in their direction? It brings a smile back. But the power isn’t the same. In my 20s, it was the power of pretty in the present tense. These days, it’s the power of pretty past perfect.
The last time I wore heels high enough to worry about their getting caught was years ago; it’s too uncomfortable now to walk more than a few blocks in them. Of course, no one really walks in LA, so that’s kind of beside the point. And it’s not that it didn’t hurt back then — it’s just that now I’m not as willing to sacrifice happy feet for stiletto feet.
I’ll let you in on a little secret. It’s more fun now. It’s more fun to be at an age when not every man I might smile at or comment to while I’m out and about thinks I want him. It’s more fun to be at an age where flirting with the cute waiter does not mean I want him to swipe right — it means I want him to get my order right. And it’s more fun to be at an age where asking the college guy in aisle #3 if he can reach something for me on the top shelf is neither a come-on in his eyes nor nervous-making in mine.
Would I prefer fewer lines on my face? Of course. Do I wish that dropping that annoying “it’s back again” ten pounds were as easy as it used to be? Sure. And do I miss being eye-catching as I stride along? I suppose.
But the trade-off, in my eyes at least, is that the age I am right now is exactly where I’m supposed to be. I’m more comfortable with myself, more outgoing, more creative, funnier, smarter, and (or so I’ve been told) sexier than ever. And that’s not nothing.
ⓒ 2019 Claudia Grossman