Excerpt: 'The Ropes'

Of course, if you lie to make yourself older, you can easily and joyously go back to the truth. People may think you're weird, but their only question would be why someone would lie up. However, if you're saying you're younger than you are, you'd best take care to remember the fib and the accompanying birth years, graduation dates, and children's ages if you don't want to get caught.

Also, try to make the lie reasonable. It's no use pretending to be twenty-seven when you're really fifty-eight. Besides, who'd want to be that stupid again? See if you can figure out how old you are in the eyes of others. Don't ask your contemporaries because they can usually spot someone of their own generation a mile off. Try telling a young salesgirl at the cosmetic counter that you think that new lipstick shade is too young for you and then try to find out how old she thinks you are. Just know that even forty seems really, really old when you're in your twenties, so don't settle for a generalization; get the girl to commit to an actual number. If you get a guess that's ten years younger, then you're on the right track.

Sexy or Delusional?

Dressing like a teenager doesn't make you one, so don't do it. Perversely, if you dress like a granny, you'll definitely be perceived as one. And while there's certainly nothing wrong with having grandchildren, you don't have to advertise your age. If you're wearing a sweatshirt emblazoned with the slogan "Number One Grandma" you're pretty much advertising that you're out of the dating pool, lessening the odds that an attractive man will make a pass at you. I suppose you could try "This Granny Still Rocks!" but I'm not sure it'd make a big difference.

As shallow as it may sound, your clothes can make or break your image, at least in the eyes of others. How many tacky talk shows have you seen featuring a teenage girl desperately seeking a makeover for her superannuated Lolita mother? You know, the one who is wearing the see-through blouse that no one wants to see through? Tape one of those episodes and play it back every time you have an urge to dress like a dancer in an MTV video.

If you still have your micromini or (gasp!) hot pants, perhaps you could sell them on eBay as collectibles. Or donate those wild and crazy outfits to a thrift store and know that some young hottie will be channeling you as she wows the boys in a trendy nightclub while undulating to music that would give you a massive headache.

Use It or Lose It

You know you have to keep your body fit and supple as you get older, and you should give the same attention to your mind. Don't spend your evenings in front of the television. If you stay home, occupy your mind with something that makes you think -- read a book, do a challenging crossword puzzle (the one in TV Guide doesn't count), or comb through the latest magazines for ideas on revamping your wardrobe or improving your life in general. Visit art galleries (especially the opening receptions when they serve wine and miniature quiches), go to a play, go to a rock concert, just go!

There's a difference between your chronological age and your real age. The way your body ages is directly related to the way you take care of yourself. No matter how good you look on the outside, you have to watch your cholesterol and blood pressure, as well as take care of your heart. Who cares how fabulous your face is if you drop dead at sixty? Take care of the whole package and you'll still be knockin' 'em dead at seventy-five.

Excerpted from "The Ropes: Girls Know the Rules, Women Know the Ropes" by by Judy Steinberg and Raechel Donahue. Published by Dutton Adult Copyright © 2005.

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