DOWNHILL (OR, NOT WHAT IT USED TO BE)
From Edward R. Murrow to Wolf Blitzer.
From Audrey Hepburn to Lindsay Lohan.
From JP Morgan to Bernie Madoff.
From JP Morgan to Bernie Madoff.
From Julia Child to Paula Deen.
From Ernest Hemingway to EL James.
From Dr. Freud to Dr. Phil.
From Rockefeller and Vanderbilt to The Donald.
No wonder I’m so p*ssed off. Not just because pretty soon I’m going to turn sixty and not just today but just about all the time and just about everywhere.
On line at the supermarket where I have to pack my own groceries.
At the gas station where I have to pump my own gas.
On hold listening to the robot telling me my call is important.
At the twenty minutes of trailers and commercials that precede every movie.
At the ads that precede internet videos.
At cellphones and their rude, clueless users.
At Metro cards that don’t work on first swipe, at double length buses that make Manhattan’s terrible traffic worse.
At a decade that began with Enron and ended with Bernie Madoff & Too Big To Fail.
You name it, it bugged me.
And, right now, you could add Ralph to the list.
Just because we’d been married since about forever did it really mean he had to go on a diet, start exercising, and buy a fancy new wardrobe?
How come he had more—and more expensive—beauty products than I did?
Since when did he spend more time in front of the mirror than I did?
Was it really fair that, almost sixty, he looked like Gregory Peck while I, just a few years younger, was beginning to look like Phyllis Diller?
Why did women who weren’t even born the year we got married look at Ralph with goo-goo eyes and why did Ralph have to look back?
“The male menobleep,” diagnosed Julia Makins, my bff who’d been married three times, divorced twice and widowed once.
Still, I wondered what happened to Ralph and me. The sizzle was gone, domesticity had set in, time and gravity had had their way with both of us.
Or was it just me?
I remember college like it was yesterday and our first apartment, a fourth floor walkup, in a neighborhood so crummy local gang members wouldn’t even hang out there. I remember my first job at Click magazine and the day Ralph retired from the NYPD. I remember when and why George Profett, the city’s most neurotic billionaire, hired Ralph to be his Vice President in charge of Security.
I remember all those things—and more—but the more important question is how did I get to be almost sixty?
What happened to all those years between college and now? How did they go by so fast? What was I doing? Why didn’t I notice?
When, exactly, did I get to be invisible?
When did empty taxis start passing me by and when did the feral perfume ladies in Bloomingdale’s no longer bother to assault me with a spritz?
When, exactly, did people stop listening to me—even when I knew more about the subject at hand than anyone else in the room?
When did my shoe size go from 7 to 8 and my bra size from 34 to 36 even though I hadn’t gained weight (well, not much, anyway)?
When did I stop reading Vogue and start sleeping in flannel pajamas all year because our apartment was cold in the winter and Ralph blasted the air conditioner in the summer?
Was I one of those women who had let herself go?
Was I about to get dumped for someone newer and younger?
Did I need bikini boot camp, a face lift, a Brazilian wax?
Would a new hair color, a different shade of lipstick or a pair of crotchless panties get Ralph to pay attention to me?
As it turned out, not one of those things made a damn bit of difference. What made the difference was murder in Shanghai, a dire threat from Billionaire George delivered in a cheapo Vietnamese restaurant, a gung-ho war correspondent with a humongous pair of 36 Double D’s, a washed-up Martha Stewart wannabe trying to make a come back with the help of a red balconette bra and a showdown with a one-eyed, one-lagged Afghan warlord who didn’t speak a word of English.
It all began the day I bought a fake Chanel bag from a sidewalk vendor on East Fifty-third Street. I was thrilled with my purchase and knew Ralph, a label snob, would be impressed. Anxious to show off my new bag, I headed for the office, moving faster than I had in years.
So fast, I didn’t notice I was being followed.
So, readers, how has it been for you? Are you getting older? Or better? Please share in the comments. I'm listening.
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