“Well, look at you!” A voice from the past interrupted my thoughts. “Blonde now, huh? Couldn’t face the gray?”
I smiled and put a name to the vaguely familiar voice and face. “Debbie! (name changed to protect the villain) How nice to see you.” I unconsciously brought a hand to my hair. “Yes, easier to chase away the gray,” ” I laughed, “than when I was brunette.”
“I can’t believe you still bother,” she held her gray head proudly over me and looked down as much as possible. She’s a good four inches taller than I am, so it was a successful put-you-in-your-place moment for her. “You know you’re just allowing society to keep you in bondage,” she said quietly and leaned close conspiratorially.
Bondage? What the heck was she talking about? Apparently, as she went on to explain, women my age (63) should be happy to settle on whatever “naturally” happens to women my age. Society has us in bondage, she explained, an we need to set ourselves free. It was hard to keep my mouth shut as she pointed all this out with her manicured nails. Not feeling she was worth the effort of a confrontation, I allowed her to carry on about how freeing it was to be in her socks and birkenstocks. This was. as you may guess, pointed out with one of her manicured nails. “I mean, how can you say it;s okay to continue doing that to your feet?”
“What? I asked incredulously. “These are super comfortable and the heal is only an inch and a half!”
Ignoring my defense, she move in closer to look down, and muttered how we women need to allow our bodies to gain those necessary post menopausal pounds. It’s freeing, she reiterated. Where was her wedding ring, I wanted to ask as I caught sight of the tell-tale sign: a pale indentation around her ring finger.
Next item on her list was make-up. Why embarrass yourself, she asked as though we were in this together, by trying to look like the young girls? It only serves to make us look a bit desperate, didn’t I agree? Less is best at our advance age, or better yet, not at all. Imagine the freedom someone such as herself enjoys! There is a time when one must evaluate life, and what really matters, she pointed out (again with those manicured nails!) and I found myself nodding in agreement just to avoid getting further accosted as I desperately searched for an escape.
Sensing the onset of fight or flight, she finished her lecture with a deep satisfied sigh and a smile, proud to have freed another victim of our modern day world. She leaned in for a hug, patted my cheek, and marched on her way.
As I watched her slightly stooped image shuffle away, I couldn’t help but notice the size of her back-side, the frump of her dowdy outfit, and how her socks and birkenstocks matched.
First thing I did was check my phone calendar to insure there was a hair appointment scheduled some time soon. Then I went into Macy’s and bought a knockout black cocktail dress and a stunning pair of high heals to match. Saphora was my next stop, for a fresh tube of mascara and some holiday red lipstick. I was getting hungry, but decided it had been a long time since I’d fasted, so this was as good a day as any, and I had a pound or two to lose. I thought about our plans for the following evening. My husband and I had reservations at our favorite restaurant and I was looking forward to it already. Replaying my strange encounter, I had to admit, regardless of everything else, her nails did look really good. I should have asked her where she got them done!