YOU know you’ve passed your use- by date when you are dropped from the guest lists of the pillow- lipped publicists wearing short leather skirts who run the social agenda in our cities: you know, openings of shoe shops, launchings of scents, spruikings of underwear, beginnings of racing seasons, all the important events that help shape our lives.
Strangely enough this seems to have happened at a time of life when you realise you are becoming set in your ways, a euphemism for behaving like an early- last- century spinster. I had two great aunts called Edie and Gertie who never married. They lived in the Lake District, neighbours of Beatrix Potter, whom they described as being not quite all there. Edie stood at the curtained window most of the day, spying on Beatrix, while Gertie, a stickler for cleanliness, collected pennies and farthings and scrubbed them in boiling water, lest they carry fatal illnesses.
I haven’t resorted to either of these activities just yet, but it may be early days. However, I fear becoming a slave to routine; whatever happened to spontaneity? When was the last time you sat around a friend’s table until three in the morning surrounded by empty wine bottles? When did a friend pop around for a drink just because he was driving past? More than likely, given this new stick- in- the- mud affliction, if this did happen, you’d tell him to pop right out again, you had things to do. When did you last lie on the sofa in the middle of the day and read a book?
In the morning you get up, shower, eat a revolting amount of fibre, brush your teeth and go to work, where you hydrate yourself at regular intervals and munch mung beans at noon. No one does lunch any more; all work and no play makes you a valued employee. No such thing as loitering in a cafe for a couple of hours. You go to Starbucks to get revved up with a caffeine fix and run out with your takeout in a brown paper bag.
When you get home you cook dinner. Nothing much out of the ordinary, really, but alarm bells should sound when you slap yourself on the wrist for putting the tomato in the salad bowl before the lettuce. It’s almost as bad as making tea in the morning and putting the milk in first.
It may be more difficult than it sounds, but my new resolution is to learn again to relax and — how can I put it? — have fun.
In the meantime I flick through the society pages of the tabloids and glossy magazines just to see what I’m missing by being struck off. There’s never a name I recognise: soapie chicks and realtors, minor tennis players and rock stars manque. Nice enough in their own way, and they’re all fighting global warming, but it’s not for me. It is more than apparent that to be on the A- list, to be invited out with the movers and shakers, you must be able, willingly, to wear underwear — and that’s all — out at night.
fraserj@ theaustralian. com. au