Ace, ice, elevate. Gulp down a handful of Advil and my bruised ankle should feel better in no time. If only it was that easy to heal my bruised ego. It's 2AM, hours after my latest embarrassing clash with the realities of aging, and still my ego aches worse than my twisted ankle. What was I thinking?
I have been known, on occasion, to glibly assure my younger friends that turning 60 is not as bad as they fear. You're only as old as you feel. Yeah, about that. You may feel young at the start of your day, alone in your kitchen, enjoying the sunshine and your leisurely second cup of coffee. Try spending a few hours in the company of those who are truly young. You too will be forced to face facts that you, my dear, are old. Maybe not ancient old. But certainly old in the eyes of the millennials who have taken your place in the world of the relevant.
I suppose it's my fault for thinking I could defy the calendar. I signed on with a modeling agency in hopes of landing the occasional job calling for a white haired woman. I feel silly calling myself a model since I am far from glamorous and more than a few dress sizes away from a model's body. So how did I end up at a photo shoot which seemed to be hell bent on humiliating me and making me long for a senior center filled with fellow white hairs?
The shoot got off to a bad start when the twenty-something wardrobe chick with the red and purple hair handed me a pair of what looked to be impossibly small jeans and steered me in the direction of the dressing room. Without my reading glasses, I had not a clue what size they were, but there was no way I was going back out to fetch them.
The jeans were that annoyingly stretchy material that has replaced the denim of my youth. Ever the optimist, I took a chance, and a very deep breath, and struggled into them. Turns out that even stretchy, size 8 jeans only stretch so far. I didn't need glasses to read the horrified looks on the faces of the make-up girl and the director. The wardrobe chick was sent shopping while I cooled my heels, and size 12 hips, in the dressing room.
She eventually returned with larger jeans, a looser top, boots with heels the size of the Empire State Building and... a dog. A large, energetic dog which proved to be way more interested in chasing squirrels and cars than in making me look good. As we headed off to downtown Denver, it was obvious who was going to be the star of the show.
"Let's try that one more time," sighed the obviously frustrated photographer. My job was to walk the dog along a busy city street, relaxed and smiling, all while balancing on heels not compatible with what was being asked of me. That dog could smell fear and knew it was him, not me, who was in charge.
"It looks like the dog is walking you," complained the director.
"That's because he is," I replied as nicely as I could without letting on what I thought of their ill-conceived plan. Either put me in flats or find a dog that has outgrown chasing cars.
The dog was eventually sent home and we all moved on to a new location, new wardrobe and new challenges. This time, I was handed size-appropriate jeans and pointed in the direction of the photographer's car. While the crew set up for the next shoot, I crouched down low in the car to peel off the stretchy jeans. Memories of zipping my jeans in my boyfriend's car, so very long ago, floated back to me. It struck me as downright hilarious to now find myself back in that same position, crouched and zipping. I was still smirking when I exited the car and handed the stretchy jeans to the wardrobe girl.
"What's so funny?" she asked.
Was she actually looking at me in that worried way young people look at their grandma when she starts showing signs of dementia? Maybe I was just overly sensitive. Sharing my funny trip down memory lane might show her how cool I really was.
"I was just thinking how long it has been since I zipped up my jeans in the back seat of someone's car."
"Ewwwwww," was all she said before turning and hurrying away to find the rest of the crew.
I couldn't keep up with her in those blasted heels. I tried short, quick steps. No good. I tried long, lunging steps. No better. After twisting my ankle for the third time, I took off the boots and walked barefoot down the chilly sidewalk. Let her think I'm old and demented. At least I'd remain upright for the rest of the shoot.
Even the worst days must eventually come to an end. As the sun set over Denver, I headed home. Home to my husband who shares my reading glasses and can't see my wrinkles without them. Home to my friends who share stories of hot flashes, memory lapses and the aches and pains of aging. Home to my mailbox which will someday soon hold a check for the photo shoot, making those few hours of embarrassment seem almost worth it.
Do I regret putting myself out there? Not really. Will I do it again if I get the chance? You betcha! I'm not yet ready to go gentle into that good night.