As we bought our tickets to the R rated movie “The Accountant, ” the 20 something girl behind the counter with creamy white skin and fine long hair hesitated before ringing us up. She looked at us, assessing something.
“Can I ask how old you are?”
To which my husband snappily said yes in his slightly sarcastic, but hard to detect way.
Me, I paused, running the algorithms of WHY she needed to ask us how old we were to go to an R rated movie.
Were we not old enough?
Do they have a new rule about who can go determined on age?
The answer that popped out of my mouth was actually full of curiosity.
“Why? Why do you need to know how old we are for the movie?”
“Well,” she said sheepishly, “I just wondered if you’d be eligible for a senior discount.”
“REALLY?” I squawked. “Seriously? How old do I look to you?” But then I had to know what age the movie theaters considered for a senior discount. Maybe it was 55 and she hadn’t been so glaringly off in her assessment.
“60.” She said, clearly understanding that she’d made the wrong decision to ask that question. My husband was un-phased because he knew the question wasn’t for his 42-year-old sweet ass. No, the question was for me, the 54 your old standing in front of her.
“How much is the discount?” I pressed on, wanting to know what the humiliation had cost.
“It’s a dollar off each ticket.”
Well, THAT’s not worth even asking about, I wanted to shout out, especially if you’re on the fence and don’t know if the people are seniors. But instead I held my tongue and gave a wry smile.
She back peddled as fast as she could, knowing she’d found dark and dangerous waters with the still menopausal woman.
“It’s ok,” I soothed her nervous, twitching. She handed us our tickets and we left.
But let me back up to give some context. On the ride to the movie theater, I’d been talking about aging and how when I look down at my hands the sun spots are turning a deeper hue, and the skin on my body, like it or not, is getting crepe-like. Not everywhere, but I notice in downward dog I see how the skin is looser and falls away from the muscles in ways it never used to. I also can’t deny the sun spots, or “freckles” as some kindly call them, cover my legs and parts of my arms.
The irony is that the day before I’d just gone to the Dermatologist for a Blu-Light treatment on my face with the intent to get rid of the pre-cancerous spots. But if I’m honest, my vanity is still chasing young and supple skin – at least for my face! If you’ve never had a Blue light treatment or don’t know what it is let me enlighten. They put gooey gel all over your face and you let it soak in for an hour. Then you sit for 4 minutes under the Blu-Light. It feels like your face is up close and personal with a broiler and the stinging/burning sensation makes you wish you were getting a root canal.
So when I entered the movie theater, let’s just say I didn’t look my best – blotchy, red and a bit puffy. I console myself that this was the case.
The next night, I went to a party (albeit with make up to cover the red!) with two friends - both younger than me – 34 and 41. We were all standing around amidst vampires and zombies, TV show characters I had no idea existed, when the hostess ran up to the 41-year-old and wrapped her arms around her.
“I’m so glad you came,” she bubbled and then turned to me, “Oh, and you brought your mom?!”
This time I couldn’t keep it in.
“Seriously, are you fucking kidding me?” I blurted out with the help of my few sips of bourbon.
“I can’t believe it. Two nights in a row. Do you know what happened to me last night? Let me tell you.” I began, and launched into my story. ( now wonder what HER version of this encounter was!)
I remember my 20s, my porcelain unscathed skin. I didn’t appreciate what I had. I do remember thinking I would age gracefully and not worry about it. That I would be sliding into middle and old age with the aplomb of Audrey Hepburn.
But we live in a youth driven culture where Hollywood touts the young, fit and beautiful. The reverence for age is not our root value.
So, despite my years of yoga, my choices to eat well, exercise and really take care of the “vessel,” I find myself still caught in the tide of cultural vanity.
I suppose the question for me is how can I be part of the solution to change this dominant cultural perspective – that youth is better and we should all strive for it, when in fact, I love who I am so much more at 54 than I ever did in my 20s? How can I validate myself and let the inner beauty shine through the spots, the loosening skin and the decay of the vessel?
Well, I believe that the best thing I can do is to live my life with passion and to do what I love so that I can serve this world and light it up from my core. And that, my friends is the reason I make art every day, despite my mood, my skin, my reflection in the mirror. It’s to bring out the inside and share it!
But when do I get that senior discount?