Thursday, March 31, 2005

Old, Scary Heads

Here’s a little biographical information about me: I’m a graphic designer and I work in an office in Boston’s La-Dee-Da, Fancy-Schmancy, Artsy-Fartsy, Hoity-Toity, lavender-scented handkerchief of a section known as Newbury Street. There are God knows how many art galleries on this street, along with a fashion institute, the posh Ritz Carlton, an architectural school, and innumerable clothing stores like Louis of Boston, Burberry’s, Brooks Brothers, and so on. I like looking at the huge fashion photographs hung in the windows of Burberry’s and Brooks Brothers. They show rigidly posed groups of what we take to be the upper crust of society, either at a picnic or just hanging around a table. They all look completely vapid, even the collie that appears in one of them. The older people in the pictures must sound like Thurston Howell the Third, and the younger ones probably call their parents ma-MAH or pa-PAH. Just out of view are probably the servants with juicy stories to tell about all of them.

I guess I feel like I don’t fit in here. And I conscientiously keep away from acting the imposter. Since we moved the business here last December, my wardrobe has been upgraded zero times. I ride a touring bike in to work every day, and let’s just say my riding attire won’t make anyone think I’m heading to a fox hunt. Both bike and rider look like they’ve seen some hard service over the years. Maybe “grungy” is the adjective I’m searching for. I clean up and change clothing once I’m in the office of course, but my look is not something found in the pages of GQ. For the past year or so, I’ve gone in for the cargo pants look. I don’t think they let you into Brooks Brothers wearing those.

Anyway, in the building where I work, there is a salon and a spa. As a matter of fact, this end of Newbury Street is lousy with them. And you see plenty of well-coifed, fashionably dressed women of all ages up here. Which is fine with me. Many of them are very attractive, and it beats all the gay guys I used to see in the South End where our studio used to be (no knock on anyone’s orientation, just talking sight-seeing here). Our little elevator, during the busy hours, is redolent with the aroma of beauty products that waft in from these places. Some have a pronounced chemical smell, but even those are OK. It’s like the trapped atmosphere of a feminine planet where men can’t visit, but instead content themselves to hear only the legends. I suppose what I smell every day as I ride up and down the elevator is part of the feminine mystique. The suggestion of a woman, like lipstick on a discarded paper cup, or a long, blonde hair found in the pages of an old magazine. There’s a story there, tantalizingly out of reach.

So it’s not unusual that when I walk to the 7-11 to buy a bag of Tostitos or a Diet Caffeine-free Coke, I might approach a well-dressed woman from behind having just come from a salon, wearing a sexy, younger fashion with long, thick hair, layered nicely with highlights. And it’s not unusual that when I pass her, I might sneak a glance at her face just to sort of complete the picture. But what is unusual is on those rare occasions when I sneak a glance and see the MUMMIFIED REMAINS OF WHAT MIGHT HAVE ONCE BEEN A PRETTY FACE!

Nothing makes me jump out of my socks more than that! Name any scary movie you want: The Ring, Jaws, The Exorcist, White Chicks — none of them have that kind of impact. Women like this should have their own music: the pom-pom pom-pom pom-pom build-up from Jaws followed by the shriek! shriek! shriek! violins from Psycho when they suddenly turn and you see them full in the face. Maybe a law should be passed forcing these women to wear giant letters on the back of their jackets or shirts, like the FBI or the ATF do, only theirs would read “OSH”: Old Scary Head.

I suggest that this is denial in its worst form. The alcoholic telling himself he is only a social drinker, or the kleptomaniac calling her little foible “aggressive borrowing,” is nothing compared to this. What ever happened to aging gracefully? Sure, you can dye your hair a little, do little tricks with make-up, join a gym, but this? Ladies, if you’re flirting with 60 or passed the mark, let’s show some dignity. Watch for some simple warning signs. Like if your cosmetics table has tools from the hardware store on it (particularly the plastering department). Or if your seventh facelift has given you a permanent death grin. Or if your latest eye job make you look like a car with its high beams on. Just because you don’t like the fact you’re getting older doesn’t give you the right to go out and scare people.

Look, I’ll turn 50 next year and my wife is right around that age too (and I won’t get any more specific than that). I’m not saying she’s perfect, but, in my mind, she does it right. She has her hair cut in a sensible way, wears light make-up, dresses nicely and watches her weight. That’s it. Stop right there. That’s all you have to do. A fifty-seven year old woman dressed up like Britany Spears is an anguished cry for help. A cry that assaults the senses. For God’s sake, please stop!


Blogger trinamick said...

Amen to that. It's like seeing a great built guy with dark hair driving a hot Corvette. Then they turn out and their teeth fall out. Nasty stuff, that.

12:30 PM  
Blogger NYPinTA said...

Well. I won't be getting any sleep tonight. Thanks you two.

8:42 PM  

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