Measured Extravagance

12 May 2003 - 9:10 a.m.

To summarize the weekend: five hours of driving, sixteen hours of workshop, four variations of Sir Thomas Wyatt's "Throughout the world. . .", three new mixing brushes, and a dinner party. And a cyclone I appear to have slept through - it touched down one county over, demolishing a home just a mile from a classmate's residence.

At the party, I listened in on three women comparing notes on coping with hot flashes, and I tell you, that got me doing the "I'm only 33!" happy dance in a right hurry. I'd already gotten a hint of their frustration, having seen one of the women desperately fanning herself with the lower half of her blouse during class (this, in spite of the air conditioning running so high I seriously considered using my gym towel as a shawl). Part of the conversation dwelled on the wardrobe changes necessary to accommodate random self-broiling - cardigans and overshirts being easier to don and remove multiple times per day than turtlenecks and pullovers, for instance. One of the women confessed, "When I was younger I'd hear about this stuff and think to myself, 'Oh, come on, how bad can it really be?' Oh, my goodness." Another one simply stood there, sweat breaking out all over her face, rolling her eyes in exasperation as she waited for the heat surge to let up.

Ay de mi. One of the them said it was awfully nice of me to hang out with a bunch of menopausal women, to which I said, "If I'm lucky, I'll live long enough to be one myself." It was certainly educational (alas, the best stories don't repeat well in writing). In fact, the conversation had reminded me of my friend Jack: when he dons his reading glasses or acknowledges some other manifestation of aging, he's fond of observing, "I'm gettin' old, but it sure beats the hell out of the alternative."

One year ago, I quoted Stephen King: "I'm a 55-year-old man with bad eyesight. I've got nothing to do with this."

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