Closing Up Shop – Deluxe Edition

Closing Up Shop

At 10 pm on Halloween night, we switch off the spooky sounds, turn off porch lights,  pack up the remaining apples, nuts and candy, and ‘call it a day.’ Yes, holidays ARE very time-sensitive, but we, as people certainly have no reason to be.

Like Halloween, somehow we think we know in our biological clocks, and somehow convince ourselves that the critical time (or witching hour) has come and gone, and there won’t be any more folks knocking at our door waiting for our precious treats.  If we don’ shut it all down now we’ll be playing to an empty house, and anyway, it’s  well past our bedtime. . . .

Isn’t this pretty close to what we do in  our culture when we prematurely buy into the belief that we are old and ready to leave the “playing field?” Faced with living in a culture that seems to revolve around youth and appearance,  it gets easier and easier to ‘close up the store.’  Most of us don’t even launch a “going out of business” sale.

Some men seem to give it one last fling.  We generally call it “the midlife crisis.”‘.  Lots more young competition in the herd, a diminishing supply of living eligible males and females, more clothes that no longer fit us, more medications to sustain us, and more predictable feelings of inadequacy and lack of legitimacy . .why bother?  “Who needs another pair of shoes under the bed anyway?”

For women, life seems to be a game of musical chairs.  If the ‘music’ stops, and an unmarried, divorced or widowed middle-aged woman still standing isn’t ‘drop-dead-gorgeous” she gives up on her hunt for her dream mate or the ultimate American Dream, and begins to close down shop. No guy on a white horse is going to ride up today; or tomorrow, for that matter.  Few
people enjoy knocking on the door of a dark and empty house.

Of course, for some women there is no ‘dream’ to give up on.  They never liked the ‘Game’ in the first place, never liked men who rode horses, and were grateful when Mother Nature provided a plausible excuse to drop the facade.

So, maybe this is why there’s a big market for single TV Dinners.  Then we can cancel Weight Watchers and stop ‘playing the game.’ altogether.

It isn’t depression that makes us overeat; sometimes it’s the assumption that nobody will care either way.   Don’t buy that bright red sweater or that higher heel; it will just attract unwanted attention; or” nobody will notice anyway.”  It’s time to get yourself a kitten or a new puppy – that’s the answer!

It’s funny;  when a man begins to age and he develops fissures and wrinkles in his face, and maybe thinning hair or baldness, he is described as being ‘seasoned,’ or weathered with lots of ‘character.’  Grace him with a quick tan, and a shock of snow-white hair, and he suddenly becomes seasoned, sexy and “loaded with potential.”   He might take a couple of tennis lessons and/or buy a red Jaguar convertible and he’s ‘good to go’ for the next fifteen years!  He doesnt need plastic surgery, all he has to do is keep breathing, sit back, and enjoy the ride!

The abandoned nuclear plant.  Spent, worn, and powering down, a middle-aged woman with a few crows feet, a wrinkle or two, and some liver spots looks in the mirror and decides to “give it up,” or see a plastic surgeon.  Is there a double standard here, or has our own callous culture dictated “go, or no-go” criteria for setting our OWN limits on our viability?

“There’s no fool like an old fool,” is a saying that resonates clearly in our masculine memories.  Men’s egos don’t seem to let this phrase slow them down as they relentlessly resort to hair dyes, comb-overs, toupees, earrings, organ enhancement and other cosmetic fixes.   Sales of Viagara and exercise equipment are going through the roof as men try for “the erection lasting for over four hours.” the five minute mile, and the muscle tone that they enjoyed right up until they blinked.  Many women who have been relegated to “powerless” during their lifetimes,  seem to observe the trend, heed the ‘warning,’  and decide not to fight it, and give it up altogether.

At risk of being graphic here, let me give you my take on this seldom discussed subject.  I am 72.  When I observe a woman my age, or even older i look to her as a peer, and I think to myself, “wow, she must have been beautiful about XX years ago!  Like my wife, some of the more fortunate women actually grow more attractive as they grow older.

As a collector of fine antiques I realize that the classical objects I find most precious still maintain an important place among the world’s more contemporary designs because they are ageless, timeless, well preserved examples of traditional pieces that have truly found their niche over the last century.  They will always blend into any decor.  But they can’t endure on their own if we continue trying to compare them to our contemporary paradigms.

When I was a child growing up in a rather repressive society, my sex education was limited to the National Geographic, and Reubens quickly became my artist of choice.  If you are familiar with Reuben’s work, you can easily understand that I was already a “Renaissance man” by the time I was 21. So, I naturally chose a mate that was full-figured, somewhat buxom and curvy.  Many years later, she still bears a close resemblance to Reuben’s best; truly a classic.