Once upon a time, very long ago, there was a girl with moonlight in her eyes. The little child lived with her mother, father, sister and fairy grandmother in a suburban Cape Cod-style castle in a land called Long Island. The people of the village thought the girl was bright and pretty and thought of her as their little princess.
She sang in a beautiful voice and the children of the hamlet would gather round and listen to her sing “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” while they pretended to be in The Wizard of Oz. As she grew older, she learned to play the piano and her musical performances were applauded and complimented.
When she became a young woman, the beautiful princess turned heads with her long blond hair and slim figure. Handsome princes would gaze from afar and confident ones would approach her with offers of affection. Doors were easily opened and each day brought new opportunities and adventures. Her world was very sweet indeed.
Okay, so this is my exaggerated fairytale, but the point is that I didn’t appreciate the power of my youth until it was gone. Youth doesn’t disappear overnight, but in increments so small that you don’t even notice it’s leaving until someone else points it out. I’m carded at bars into my late twenties until one night, ID in hand, the bouncer looks at me and says he doesn’t need to see it, I can go right in. In my thirties, waiting at the cashier with my beer in hand, the clerk calls down the line to have my ID ready. When I get close enough for the young guy to get a good look at me, he says, “Oh, never mind.”
The age reminder incident in my forties was probably the most insulting. While driving to work one day, two dudes in a truck slow down, beep the horn, and wave, trying to get my attention. My first thought is that they’re signaling that something is wrong with my car. But the way they are ogling me, tells me they’ve noticed the long blond hair and the fact that I’m female. Now our vehicles are side by side as they come in for a closer look and I glance left in their direction. Their big dopey grins vanish as they realize I’m old enough to be their mother. Then, the one in the passenger seat motions a dismissive wave and mouths the word, “Sorry.” Yes, I’m officially over the hill and thank you very much for reminding me.
In my fifties, I’m travelling along the road to invisibility. But don’t feel sorry for me; I regard my invisibility as my superpower. I’m the cocktail ninja who can infiltrate a crowd of people in a bar with the stealth of a jaguar. What seems to be a casual night out is my covert mission is to gather intel for my next blog post. At this age, our hidden agendas are so different from the attempted guerilla pickups that assaulted my youth.
At the bar, we meet our nonagenarian friend, Buddy, and wish him a belated happy birthday. He leans in and speaks quietly, letting us in on one of the pearls of wisdom only known by living to age 90. “You know, when you get to be my age, people give you things.” Buddy proceeds to tell us about his free helicopter excursion over the city and upcoming parasailing adventure, adding, “I asked them not to dip me, I would prefer to stay dry.”
A perfectly-timed free drink is handed to Buddy, a gift from other bar patrons validating his claim that people give him things. He nods to them in thanks. The Age of Innocence may be lost, but there is still much to be gained in the Age of Invisibility.
Ponder aging and pair your cocktail with Angel From Montgomery by Susan Tedeschi (written by John Prine, first well-known version by Bonnie Raitt):