Mid-Life Crisis

It was fantastic fun. They were all staring in my direction – all these men, with lust in their eyes. There were several near-misses as passing drivers lost concentration, and it was definitely more luck than design that nobody was hurt when the moped rider mounted the pavement. “Very nice,” said one young man with an appreciative smile. “Wouldn’t mind getting my hands on that,” said another to his friend.

Okay, I admit it. It wasn’t actually me drawing this level of attention. It was my son’s beautiful motorbike. But it used to be me! When did I stop being a babe? I’ve still got the wiggly walk and the blonde hair. It just doesn’t seem to have the same devastating effect. Middle-age has crept up on me. Oh, I still warrant the occasional toot on somebody’s horn, but now it’s every few weeks instead of every few feet – and it’s never from oncoming traffic.

The Japanese have a word for women like me – bakku-shan – a woman who rear view holds a certain promise, but the view from the front proves to be a bit of a disappointment. I’m not saying that my rear view is that cute, just that it still elicits the occasional toot. I’m very thoughtful, though: I avert my face so that tooter doesn’t know he’s tooted an old boot; and to be perfectly frank, I’m not sure how my ego would hold up to seeing the look in their eyes.

Still, I shouldn’t really complain; most of the time I don’t get noticed at all anymore. I’m invisible. It’s a complete mystery to me how peri-menopausal women ever get caught shoplifting; because in the retail world, women of a certain age become imperceptible to the naked eye. Nip into Halfords and it’s as if I’m wearing Harry Potter’s cloak of invisibility; take my 22-year old daughter with me, and dungaree’d assistants surge from all directions. I could walk into the bar right now and I will still be there twenty minutes later leaning on the counter gathering dust, with a tenner waving from my bloodless hand.

I know it shouldn’t bother me. I’m letting down the sisterhood. I shouldn’t be basing my self-worth on the number of wolf-whistles I attract. I can’t believe how much they used to annoy me. I didn’t appreciate the attention at the time. Oh, if only I could go back and revel in my lost gorgeousness, before gravity sucked me down. These days I tend avoid mirrors. And that’s not a good thing, boys and girls. You start to let things slide. You start thinking comfort rather than glamour. I put on a posh frock – and I find myself thinking “will this look okay with trainers?" And just when did I decide to abandon my Wonderbra for the robust scaffolding afforded by a Doreen? Oh, you might laugh, I’m not alone. This is the world’s best selling bra. Hello boys!

At least I still look like a princess – Princess Margaret, that is. Look at these jowls; especially under this lighting. Yeesh!

There are things I could do to hold back the sands of: ten minutes twice a day of contorting my face in the mirror and I can knock ten years off. Pointless! Imagine the disappointment of living in the sure and certain knowledge that in ten years’ time I’m going to look like this anyway?


Actually, although I wrote this as a competition entry for Toastmasters, I delivered it at a social evening at Parkside Theatre. With no warning (in fact, I was in the bar buying a glass of Dutch courage at the time), I was told I was "first up" with about thirty seconds to spare. I'm sure given a few minutes of breathing space, I'd have been a tad better, but it seemed to go down quite well anyway.