Friday, April 29, 2005

Grrrls of (and in) an Uncertain Age

Last night, I couldn't take my eyes off the red Mary Janes in the window of Alamo Shoes. Nor could I believe the cute things were made by Earth Shoes. Imagine; comfort *and* style. I fixated on them for a bit, and then I showed Jack the way to the next sushi bar (Suddenly, Andersonville has become Sushi Central; suffice to say that despite being in a former Middle Eastern restaurant , Sushi Luxe is more hipster- and vegetarian friendly with its flatscreen TV's embedded in the bathroom mirrors and sushi-chefs-who-look-and-act-like-DJ's; the tofu tempura maki was unusually satisfying, as was the tangy goma-tofu appetizer. Jack's saketini was not so memorable. Nor did I like much the adjacent table of wimmen engaging in a loud clumsy game of chopstick mumblety-peg; in fact I wanted them to take a permanent time out (so to speak).....Tanoshi, up the street, was badly-lit -- ie, bright -- and full of regulars who all seemed to know each other and the owner, Chef Mike, who presided behind the bar. Tanoshi means happiness and this place was lively and joyous. But the trendiest Asian Joint of All is Jinju, across the street from Sushi Luxe. It boasts unthreatening Korean food, superdimbop lighting, a full bar and hoardes of hipsters).

Today Editor Q. and I went for veggie Indian buffet at Arya Bhavan . When I picked her up I noticed she was wearing The Shoes. In red. She'd just gotten them and she loved them. And they looked *good*. At the restaurant we ran into another Kriya-trained yoga teacher, Z. She wasn't wearing them, but she'd just gotten a pair, too. Both had found them at Alamo, where I got a great price on my Dansko Mary Janes in '03. Now I too *must* have them....especially in the wake of my previous non-attachment failures. When it rains it snores....

But my point. Kirti, the restaurant owner, noticed that my year-and-a-half-old grey roots are finally starting to blend in with my too-red hennaed ends (this is due to my first investment ever in an expensive, shaggy haircut... expensive to me being over $30). Q. mentioned she was inspired by my attempt to go natural, and had started to grow out hers. But she was starting to lose confidence (after looking at my 40 in 04 pictures from last year, where I look like I walked under some falling plaster, I can see why). Then we looked at Q., who has a beautiful mane of silvery-grey hair. She told about her decision to grow it out (actually her regular hairdresser had gone AWOL and the woman who agreed to take over -- another yogi -- refused to dye it). C. said she cried after going grey. No wonder; instead of growing it out she went supershort, and then had it cut AGAIN, as soon as the grey was long enough to hold its own. (I did something similar in 1991, after dying my hair black for years and experiencing a color removal disaster that left me with a patchwork of fall colors a la Excene Cervenka circa '79; I cried, too, and worried I looked like a m-a-n, and wore skirts and scooped collars for the next three years). This grey hair talk over Gujarati chai led to a discussion of invisiblity of Women of a Certain Age (both women are older than I), and how when it happens you (apparently) freak out because no one is looking at you (Can I just say how revolted I was two weeks ago, when the Sunday NYT called 43-year-old Jennifer Jason Leigh "a woman of a certain age." Male writer of course). Apparently there is even an exact moment when you notice this invisibility. Q. was 50 and walking down the street with a young obese woman when she noticed her companion was getting all the looks. Anyway the upside is that you can then *get away with things*. You know, because people don't notice you. At some point you apparently stop caring, too, and start to say and do what you want. It's a refreshingly intriguing concept, and takes some of the wind out of the utterly oppressive societal notion that women past menopause have no value (no one really says this per se, but that's the message driven home constantly; no-fucky, no-worthy). Also at that point the people (men) who spend time with you do so for one reason only; they want to. Or something like that. ...

Now, I wonder if, when I go into Alamo to get the hip old lady shoes -- in red, of course -- the salesmen will still notice me (they're all men, in short-sleeve white shirts and ties, and they're *all* over A Certain Age). At this point, my hair's over 50 percent grey. But I suspect they'll have to pay attention. After all, they work on commission.


  1. Anonymous4:30 PM

    A few days after my 50th birthday, a very happy thought appeared in my head, so strong it 'felt' like a voice: "It's just like turning 21!" I had come of age, I no longer had anything to prove, I could say and do what I needed, not worrying any more about the impression I make... I wish I had felt so free at 21!

    Thank you for writing this for all of us 'crones'

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