IMAGINE going to bed one night as a modest but devastatingly gorgeous 19-year-old with a whole lot in front her, only to wake up the next morning as a confused woman of a “certain age” wondering where it all went.
Admittedly a woman of a certain age can still have a whole lot in front of her, although now it's all pointing in the wrong direction and needs an under-wire support bra to keep it all from hitting the floor.
Getting older sneaks up on you. One day you're young and reckless wearing frosted eye shadow, dancing on a table at the blue light disco and thinking up an excuse to tell your parents as to why you were late home. Next day you're the parent stuck in a queue at Woolies holding a barbecue chook and thinking up an excuse to tell hubby and the kids why you're late with dinner.
You don't suddenly get grey hairs, it takes years. Years of marriage, years of child rearing and years of pointless arguments over whose turn it is to sit in the front seat and who used all the hot water before your natural locks will start to change hue and Madame Clairol becomes your new best friend.
And even as the years start passing by, with a bit of effort, a bit of imagination and a whole lot of denial and soft lighting it's still possible to fool the mirror. Why do you think women over 35 buy so many candles?
But even as you lie to yourself and say you're only buying that ridiculously expensive tub of anti-aging cream as a “preventative”, you wear sunglasses to avoid the glare rather than risk crow's feet and you need to leave the party because it's almost midnight and if you don't go home and get some rest now you'll be a cow tomorrow, there's one thing guaranteed to make you feel old – your feet.
Oh sure, you can suck in your stomach and spend half the evening wriggling into a panty girdle before putting on a slinky dress that mysteriously shrank in the wardrobe, you can grow your fringe long and cover the beginning of those forehead lines and you can dye your hair every colour of the rainbow rather than admit there are one or two greys poking through but the one thing that will always give your age away is your feet. And I'm not talking about how they look; I'm talking about how they feel.
You know your days of dancing like a diva are probably coming to an end when you walk past a display of rubber-soled Hush Puppies and think to yourself “Gee they must be comfy”.
Of course the first time you catch yourself doing this you'll immediately rush over to the other side of the shoe shop, strap on an impossibly high pair of heels and teeter around the shop insisting it will be years before Dr Scholl can call you a patient.
But one day before you know it, you'll be standing at an all-day soccer gala in painful, pointy-toed high heels, the blood to your little toe cut off for so long it will need amputating and you will hear a voice in the back of your head saying, “You know you've still got it, you know you can still dance on table tops, but would it kill you to do it in sensible shoes once in a while?”
Family Taming is a weekly humour column.
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