It’s just a word.
But it’s really offensive to some people. And by some people, I mean me.
I can’t just throw the F-word out there or use it during any old conversation. It’s never uttered around strangers, only people I know well. The F-word is used only for emphasis. I always cringe when I’ve said it.
So, (deep breath) here I go.
There. I said it. I’m (gasp) forty.
I love when women who are forty find out that you have turned forty. They say things like “Welcome to the club!” and “What moisturizer are you using now?” and “Might as well have fun, we’re into middle age!” (that sentence is usually accompanied by a small sob). It’s also fun to be with women who are two years away from forty. They say things like, “It’s not so bad!” and “It’s just a number.” Of course it is. They’re not forty. One of my dear friends likes to tease me and say “So, how’s it feeling these days being forty?” I love her. And yet I’ve threatened to kick her in the shins.
I know, I know, forty is the new thirty, fifty is the new forty (28 is still the age cut off for American Idol).
Some people are shocked because I reveal my actual age. I’m a television anchor, and in that line of work, women usually start pulling their faces upward, injecting laugh lines and get very vague on the number of candles on their cake. Thankfully I don’t work for Entertainment Tonight. I’m on PBS. And in PBS years, I’m 25.
I’ve had many months to get used to my forty woman self, but it didn’t really hit me until I saw it in print. A friend of mine asked me for a quote to go in an article she was writing. So she got the information and then asked me my age and hometown. That Sunday I opened up the paper, and there it was. Christy McDonald, 40.
Yech! I remember when my parents were forty! They were old!
I think the problem is, I still haven’t felt the “Ah-ha” moment of embracing my beautiful, forty self. And that’s the dirty secret of the F-word. We’re told by every talk show and magazine to love our age and feel empowered by it. But at the same time we’re force-fed pictures of 40-ish stars who Botox, wax, pluck, air brush and fast their way to a perfectly non-forty appearance. I don’t see them hanging around on the soccer game sidelines, coordinating car pools, working long hours and teaching children to tie shoes. Except maybe for Jennifer Garner because she’s always pictured doing those things in People Magazine.
I also find myself wondering what the 40 and over rules are. Can I still buy something at “Forever 21”? Do I have to start reading “Good Housekeeping”? (The headlines are catchy. I do want a cleaner closet.) Forty also brings special recognition, like the fact I’m eligible to play on a “40 +” tennis team. And it brings some kind of adolescent break out on my chin I suddenly acquired two months ago. My dermatologist said I could thank age, hormones and stress for that.
I say no thanks.
I found this quote from Mark Twain that I guess puts it all together.
“Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”
So, I am forty, hear me roar. Or really, hear me kinda mumble it. And I better enjoy forty.
Forty-one is coming soon enough.