Saturday, 23 August 2008

A Thing That Isn't What It Used To Be

It's been a shocker of a summer for my mid-life crisis. In many ways, having a mid-life crisis at nearly 42 is pretty good going - suggests I'm not pegging out until 84, for a start. However, I have made no plans for it, so it's a bit of a shock.

The first sign was when a short rotund man made a sweeping reference to "middle aged women" and excepted present company, and since the other women present were in their twenties, I realised with surprise he must be speaking to me. Middle aged woman, me? It was more the objectification of it than the term, I think, which shocked me. I have become Something - a Thing which can be judged and generalised about, not myself. Well well.

And then a character in Grey's Anatomy referred to women who can no longer have children as "dried up", suggesting that they should do needlepoint. How guilty I instantly felt about my knitting and sewing. Obviously my happy relationship with manufacture of weird clothing for myself, others and dolls is a sign of my (unforgivable) infertility. The fact that I was brought up to knit and sew, as well as cook, as part of my mother's lifeskills course and have cheerfully made myself increasingly eccentric clothing throughout my adult life was suddenly indicative of - something socially unacceptable. Something socially inferior and unworthy. Some thing.

Things went downhill with Frankie Boyle describing people with pets as those who have "tried to have a relationship with a member of [their] own species". Good Godfrey Cambridge, me again. I even find the relationship with the cats - who poop before the washing machine, vom everywhere and shed like bastards while demanding to sit on my lap if I am still for more than 30 seconds - frequently trying.

And then Kevin Bishop described Madonna dressed in dance clothes as "Mutton". But she dances, what is she supposed to wear? And thus my whole crisis comes to focus on my clothes (which I must not make for myself).

What is somebody 42 supposed to wear? I have never gone in for being well dressed; I much prefer dressed up. I like to yomp about in personae - tart, horsy hellkite, landgirl, hobnail booted Victoriana - and just finding myself having to wear sensible clothes to teach has made me pretty miserable. Looking at fashion magazines just confuses me. Although impractical enough to warm my heart, the models are so toothpick skeletal that I cannot see the clothes. All I can see is malnutrition and aliens. Funnily enough, they are apparently not things.

Well well again. I have no solutions. I am a Thing, and when I decide what Thing to be I shall carry on and be that. Perhaps this is a time for supreme eccentricity. Then people will see eccentricity before they see a middle aged woman. If I am to be a Thing, think I should like that Thing rather better than the other.