I know Pam was kidding. And I don’t think we’re quite old enough to pull that off. But her response got me thinking: Are old ladies inherently cute?
Turning sixty-six, I’m into what some people call The Second Adulthood or The Third Stage of Life, so it’s time to decide whether I want to be cute. I’ve reinvented myself at numerous stages throughout my life. Now it may be time to choose my final persona.
I admit that one of the cutest things I ever saw was a pair of old ladies in San Francisco, sometime around1985. They appeared to be identical twins and were probably in their eighties. Their carefully coiffed wigs and cats-eye glasses reminded me of my grandmother’s twenty years before. They were barely more than four-and-a-half feet tall and dressed exactly alike. Their veritable sameness, their outdated look, and their diminutive size (ooh, the tiny feet) made them undeniably … cute. I wanted to take a photo, but I thought it rude to ask.
Alternatively, I find the bumbling beldames I see pictured on so many greeting cards today (“Isn’t it windy?” “No, it’s Thursday.” “I’ll have a drink.”) frightening, rather than cute. This portrayal demeans me, somehow. I hope this isn’t my future.
No, no, I’m not ready to be cute. When I think of iconic women around my age, I don’t find them cute. Meryl Streep is not cute. Cher is not cute. Hillary Rodham Clinton is … Definitely. Not. Cute.
Goldie Hawn? Now she’s cute, but not in an old-lady way. I couldn’t do “cute” like Goldie in the Sixties, and I’m sure I couldn’t now.
I’m not sure I was cute even when I was a kid. My classmates were cute in their frilly party dresses. My parents, for the most part, eschewed the frills and dressed me up in miniature, blue or gray, tailored suits with pleated skirts. I hated those suits, but now it occurs to me that my folks might have been sending me a message. Don’t try to be cute. Try for … what? Dignified? Classy? When I was six, my skinned knees tended to spoil the image, but now … Yeah, maybe I can be dignified.
Or I could take my cue from a woman I’ve met through volunteer work. She so resembles an entirely different greeting-card heroine, in both looks and personality, that I’m hard pressed to call her Doris rather than Maxine. Salty … that’s a good word for her. I have a black sense of humor and (unlike Doris) a bit of a potty mouth. Maybe I can be salty. It’s got to be easier than dignified.
If you know me, personally or through my writing, tell me what you think. What fits me? Cute? Dignified? Salty? Another one I haven’t thought of? And which personality would you pick for your Third Stage of Life? I’d like to know.
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