I’ve discovered that you have to be quite careful to accessorize properly if you want to sport long hair in middle age. As is my habit after arriving home from work, I changed into sweatpants and a T-shirt before preparing dinner. I wanted to show my new heels to my daughter and slipped them on. “Mom!” she snorted “You look like trailer trash!” I caught a look at myself in the full-length mirror and she was absolutely right. It was an unmistakeable trailer trash greatest-hits-of-Walmart outfit. I quickly kicked off the heels and put my hair up in a loose ponytail. Another thought occurred to me: how was I going to manage my new hair, which I now noticed was very heavy when tied back, when doing my workout at the gym? Not to mention that I always wash my hair after a good, sweaty workout and this formerly simple activity was now going to take at least as much time as the actual workout. Yet Barbie has the quintessential fit figure; how does she do it? Oh, right – she’s a plastic doll.
Last night I went to a bar with a group of friends to hear a band play. I had gone to hear the same band play at the same bar last fall. Now, I was returning with a new look and I wondered if it would be different. At first, I didn’t notice anything other than the same young-ish crowd (this being a relative statement since my group of friends are all in the pushing-50 age group). However, as the evening wore on, these same young men began making their mating-dance moves on the dance floor, striking up conversation that bore a suspicious resemblance to a come-on, and otherwise trying to attract the attention of me and my sister. Some of them were frighteningly young. I should mention that my sister, who is only two years younger than me, has long beautiful blonde hair and rocks her collection of extremely cute dresses and heels. By the end of the evening, a not-more-than 35 year old Irish fellow was telling me repeatedly that I had the most bewitching eyes and was very beautiful and that he lived nearby. He wasn’t even slurring when he said it and he was quite attractive himself, although part of the reason he said it various times might have had something to do with the loud music and the difficulty I had understanding his thick brogue. Still, I give him full marks for persistence. I felt like looking over my shoulder to see who he was addressing, or to check if it was some kind of joke. I smiled at him and said he seemed like a very nice person but that I had to get back to my group of friends. While I have been told I look younger than my age, I don’t think I look that much younger. My conclusion is that as the beer goggles go on, these fellows are only looking at the broader brush strokes of the women around them: skirt – check, long hair – check, dancing and upright – check. And that’s about where they stop their inventory.
My theory was further bolstered by the fact that the lead singer in this particular band is a high school classmate of my sister’s, hence our interest in traveling to an inconveniently located suburban pub to see him play (and of course, his band is a lot of fun and worth going all that way to see them) and he is able to pull off the sexy lead singer part very well. He has hair. Not just any hair – he has rocking hair that he pays big bucks to get cut in a downtown salon, with fringe-y bits coming down over his eyes and spike-y bits around his face. The outfits the band wears are a little juvenile and if you look closely, he has the same fine lines around his eyes and mouth that we all share but he can pull off the lead singer persona and get the crowd going, in part, because he has “the look”. Maybe it is merely because the look makes him feel more like a lead singer and less like a dad who has to change diapers by day, but it is definitely important enough to him to spend a chunk of change to achieve.
What does all this mean? Apparently I can flit among the younger crowd and pass for one of the natives. However, does that actually help me to meet my “Ken”? I have no doubt about what that Irish fellow was proposing and I wasn’t buying. But even if I were interested in pursuing conversation with a potential male partner there, I suspect that only Demi and Ashton can actually pull off the October-May relationship gig. As one of my friends pointed out, just wait until the woman is 60 and the fellow is 45 – he will be hightailing it out of there. Maybe I’m too traditional in my feelings on this, but I think that even if one can attract younger bees with the honey, there is not much point. The real question here is, will the bees in the right demographic be attracted to Barbie?