Tuesday, May 13, 2014
Birthday Girl: Bea Plus
Somewhere, in some celestial realm, three women are sitting down to some cheesecake in celebration of one of their birthdays. A fourth, I hope, is raising a glass in her memory.
As for me, it hit me this weekend, watching part of Logo's Maude Mother's Day marathon, that now I'm older than Beatrice Arthur was when she first strode out into that archetypal Tuckahoe-set sitcom living room. Last night I realized that as of this morning, in fact, I'm the age Gloria Swanson was when she made Sunset Boulevard. That may not be old, exactly, but kids, it's not young.
And you know what? I don't mind. The 50s, I've decided (with a little help from the fetching promo snap above), are the Decade of Liberty. Finally I'm old enough not to care, smart enough to know what's what, and brave enough to tell it like it is, Maude-style. Well, maybe not quite full-force Maude quite yet, but I'm getting there. "You don't mince words, do you," said a colleague to me the other day. "No," I answered. "I just don't have time for stupidity any more." That's my motto for the next part of my life, and my only challenge is to be vigilant that I'm on target when about to shoot. At one stage of her life, the Baroness Blixen, Isak Dinesen - another person whose old age I admire - said that her motto was "Be Bold. Be Bold. Be not too bold." I'm working on that balance.
Doing a quick inventory, I discover, I've got a whole lot more on the assets side of life's balance sheet than I could ever have expected: Mr. Muscato, of course, first up, but beyond this solid marriage, good friends and some family at least who aren't wholly dysfunctional; work that is adequately fulfilling and, despite our chronic extravagance, more or less adequately remunerative; an almost surprising amount, the occasional ache or pain aside, of robust good health; the love of two terriers. Youthful good looks may have vanished (taking with them my waistline, alas), but with a little careful maintenance I don't frighten the horses. I do find myself occasionally searching for a word that I really ought to remember - it's on the the tip of my tongue - dammit what is it that word? - but I still do the crossword puzzle each morning and only occasionally resort to Google. When I retire, I still intend to read Proust, and with any luck at all, I'll still have the mind to do so.
So here's to 51, an age when I probably ought to know better, but still have hope for the future. It won't all be roses, that much is sure, but with a little patience, a lot of nerve, and the occasional glass of Champagne, there's still much about which to be amused. In the immortal words of the equally immortal Miss Kitt: Here's to life, and here's to love, and here's... to you. To all of us, and Beatrice Arthur, too.