I was thinking the other day about aging gracefully and what that means to me. It reminded me of a women I worked with a few years back who was close to my age. We were beyond forty. She had two grown children and her last, who was still at home, was her high-school-aged daughter. She was an attractive woman and you could tell she took great pride in her personal appearance. Not one hair was ever out of place and her make-up always looked like it was professionally applied. She was also fit. We had that in common. The difference between her and me was our commitment to working out. I did it because I was trying to maintain the final remnants of what used to be a pretty rockin’ body (about 30 years ago). I still look pretty good, but I definitely don’t wear bikinis anymore. She, on the other hand, was never going to age. We all have our idiosyncrasies.
What I couldn’t understand was her taste in clothes. Every day she rolled into the office with the most age-inappropriate outfits. I was convinced she did all of her shopping with her daughter in the junior section of any department store. In a warped sort of way, I started to look forward to seeing her each morning for the sheer purpose of checking out her garb. Friday’s, however, were the best.
Our company had a strict policy against jeans except for Friday. Even then, they had to be pressed and women had to tie the look together with some sort of jacket, cardigan or something to give it a business casual flair. She definitely adhered to the dress code, but in the spirit of twenty-something, her jackets were always cropped to be sure everyone could see the Hollister label. Really? Call me stodgy, but over forty women have no business wearing twenty-something jeans (unless you live in Hollywood).
The day she wore skinny jeans, I couldn’t take it anymore. In a way, I felt bad for her because she was the bane of all the caddy chatter certain office wenches seemed to thrive on. Okay, so maybe I did it sometimes too. The big difference between them and me was I took my chatter right to the source. She had definitely crossed a line with those skinny jeans and I felt it my duty for all womankind over forty to say something. We made a date for lunch and while we waited for our water with lemon and house garden salads, I leaned into the table. I asked her if the jeans she was wearing were new. She gushed and looked from side-to-side. Then she leaned in and, in a whisper, grinned and said: ‘They’re my daughter’s. She’d kill me if she knew I wore them, but I just had to.’ She sat back with a great sense of accomplishment and gave me one of her perfect smiles. The fact that she absconded with her daughter’s jeans was one thing, but skinny jeans on top of that was another. I paused for effect and leaned in close to her and said, ‘Give her back her jeans.’
We didn’t have lunch together after that.
I’m no longer with that company, but do run into her on occasion—usually around back-to-school shopping time. Last time I saw her I was coming out of Hollister with my teen-aged daughter as she was headed in… without her daughter.