Excerpt: 'The Ropes'

I was a guest at a cocktail party honoring one of my older daughter's friends, chatting with a group of people about the fact that we were all born during the war, when another woman joined the circle.

"I was born during World War II," she chimed in, shooting me a skeptical glance.

"What war were you born in?"

"WWII, 1942," I chirped, meeting her gaze with my most ingenuous smile.

I can't really tell you her reply. It was muttered under her breath as she turned on her heel and walked away. Sometimes, as Dorothy Parker said, a girl's best friend is her mutter. In this case, the mutter was my new best friend.

I was waiting in an airport bar when a well-dressed woman remarked, apropos of almost nothing, that we appeared to be the same age. And we did, I agreed. In fact, I had noticed her when we were going through security and had thought the same thing myself.

"You haven't had anything done, have you," she said, as a statement rather than a question. I confessed to having a little Botox just recently. "How old are you anyway?" she then asked, not meaning it as an insult. It turned out that she was nearly ten years younger than I, which made me feel great and made her feel like heading for the nearest plastic surgeon.

I'm not interested in age. People who tell their age are silly. You're only as old as you feel.

-- Elzabeth Arden

While a man will fritter away his conversational time by bragging about how much money he makes, his golf score, or other more personal scores, a woman will cut directly to the chase. She doesn't need to tell anyone anything about herself; she just needs to know the other woman's age. Then she can compare herself and either get smug or take the whole day into the toilet.

What is it that makes some women come off as so much younger than others of the same age? To be sure, cosmetic surgery and taking care of yourself can help a great deal, but I have a friend who has had virtually every part of her body tucked, sucked, snipped, and sewn and she still looks every bit her real age! You know why? She doesn't do a lick of exercise and she has the posture of an old woman. Much of how you are perceived depends upon how you carry yourself. Remember, walk with your tail in the air!

On the other hand, I have friends who have done nothing but soap and water for their fifty years on the planet and somehow still look ten years younger. I think a large part of how age looks on us is in the way we comfort ourselves. Once we stop having fun and start taking on those curmudgeonly attitudes, it's the beginning of the end of youth.

We don't see things as they are; we see them as we are.

-- Anaïs Nin

Lying Up

If you approach your age with a sense of humor, even lying about it can be fun. While I don't advocate lying in any way, I know one funny woman who began what she calls "lying up" when she was in her late forties. "It was kind of like practicing for the next decade," she says. "I was forty-seven and I would tell people I was fifty, and they'd be amazed at how fabulous I looked!" It's amazing how the perception of age changes with just a few years -- how could forty-seven be so different from fifty?

The secret of staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly, and lie about your age.

-- Lucille Ball

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