Too Late For Love

The People's Friend Special - - HERITAGE -

PEO­PLE love to use ex­pres­sions like “Fifty is the new thirty”, but it sim­ply isn’t true. When I was thirty I didn’t have these jowls, or these deep­en­ing crow’s feet around my eyes, and I did – oh, I did! – have a waist.

But I’m the first to ad­mit that some­thing has shifted.

Watch­ing the silent TV set in my den­tist’s wait­in­groom, I mar­velled as Ju­lia Roberts stalked the screen in a moody fra­grance ad.

She was older than me. I could re­mem­ber my gran be­ing that age.

My grand­mother didn’t waft around in a back­less satin evening dress, lean­ing off bridges and pout­ing.

“My gran was an old woman when she was fifty,” I told Rus­sell, my den­tist, as I climbed on to his surgery chair.

“I adored her, but she bore no re­la­tion at all to Ju­lia Roberts.”

“There’s a rea­son for that,” Rus­sell said sagely as he low­ered the chair and passed me a pair of pro­tec­tive specs. “Sev­eral, ac­tu­ally. Yoga. A mac­ro­bi­otic diet. And, most im­por­tantly, good light­ing. Open wide, Mag­gie.”

I liked a man who knew that Hol­ly­wood beauty wasn’t the real thing. I liked Rus­sell.

But here was the dif­fer­ence be­tween

Granny’s gen­er­a­tion and mine – Gran did noth­ing to deny the ac­cu­mu­lat­ing years, whereas my lot had ex­pec­ta­tions of some­how stay­ing young for ever.

“It’s a racket!” my friend, Jane, de­clared when we talked about it. “Hair dyes, anti-age­ing creams, Bo­tox. The whole lot is just a licence to print money.”

“But you love all that!” I protested.

“I love ly­ing on a treat­ment bed be­ing mas­saged with gor­geous prod­ucts,” Jane cor­rected me. “That doesn’t mean I love be­ing whipped into an old dolls’ race to the top.”

“Old dolls.” I chuck­led. “Is that what we are?”

“Oh, yes,” Jane replied. I wasn’t ex­actly dev­as­tated by the changes in my face and fig­ure that came with the years – prob­a­bly be­cause I’d never had any great good looks to be­gin with.

“The thing that gets me,” I told Jane, “is now that I’m a bit baggy and saggy, am I told old for ro­mance?”

Jane stopped flick­ing and looked at me in hor­ror.

“Mag­gie.” She shud­dered. “How can you think that?”

“It’s all right for you,” I replied. “You and Ron have been in love for twenty-five years. Imag­ine what it’s like for me – fifty and con­tem­plat­ing a first date.”

“Years of mar­riage are no guar­an­tee of a ro­man­tic life, ei­ther. Let’s crack open a bot­tle of wine.”

We spent a silly evening rem­i­nisc­ing about some first dates when we were still at school.

“When we were teenagers hop­ing for a ro­man­tic night out, I re­mem­ber the big film was ‘Grem­lins’,” Jane said.

“We didn’t need much,” I re­minded her. “A dash of Gold Spot breath fresh­ener and the Fly­ing Pick­ets sing­ing ‘Only You’ and we were putty in the hands of any smooth-talk­ing lad at the youth club disco.”

“Ex­cru­ci­at­ing,” Jane agreed. “Wouldn’t you rather be where you are now, when you can af­ford to get your hair done, wear clothes that suit you and en­gage in a mean­ing­ful con­ver­sa­tion with a guy?” She had a point.

Sit­ting up in bed that night, I poised my pen and clutched my note­book.

It might have been the wine, but it seemed like a good idea to make a list of el­i­gi­ble men.

I must have thought for a full five min­utes with­out

Was fifty too old to find the man of my dreams?

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