Elderly Girl adores elderly people. They exude a sweetness and softness that is quite special. They have a vulnerability that is touching. They have patience, bravery and wisdom.
Elderly Girl is glad they exist.
She just doesn't want to be one of them.
Instead, she has become a kick-ass person, a hell-raiser, an enigma, a renegade. Much to her surprise, she has turned back the clock, becoming stronger and more luscious than ever.
She has become a skateboarding maniac, hanging out at the half pipe and snake runs with 14-year-old boys, who have nicknamed her "Flip Mama." To them, she is outrageous, gorgeous, mysterious and defiant.
She has also become very much in demand as a life model for two nearby university art departments. Her body is a wonderland. She is particularly renowned for the haunting, tortured poses she assumes. The students look like they might develop PTSD the whole time they're sketching her, but they acknowledge that she elicits talent in them that they never dreamed they possessed.
Have you noticed that whenever the media report a death, the same comments are made about the murder victim, accident victim, whomever? "Everybody loved her. She didn't have an enemy in the world. She always had a smile on her face. She would do anything for anyone, give you the shirt off her back," etc.?
It's a good thing Elderly Girl is going to vanish, unnoticed, when she decides she's had enough of this crazy world. Otherwise, people would be at a loss for what to say. "She remained girlish to the end" is about as good as it could get. But it was that very age-inappropriateness that gave her the longevity that has made her the object of worldwide attention and adulation.
She may be freaky, but she's virtually immortal.
Well into young adulthood, she was so conscientious and well-behaved that it shames her to think about it.
Thank goodness she decided to say "screw you" to her life as Miss Goodie Two Shoes (sorry, Mama!) and make up for lost time in giving the Bad-Seed aspect of her character decades to produce its showy, startlingly original flowers.
She is younger now than she was thirty years ago, looking fabulous while she defies convention and creates an uproar.
Fomenting class warfare is her current project. Don't we all agree that it's long overdue?
She is also circulating a petition to halt the latest rage in condescension toward the elderly. A new breed of ridiculous young clinicians is urging that "dignity therapy" be foisted upon senior citizens, to "help them love themselves, despite their decline."
Screw these uppity assholes. If we want dignity, we can get it on our own, without any fancy-pants neuro-programming by some newly minted PhD. If we don't want this rather overvalued attribute, leave us the hell alone!
Elderly Girl finds dignity to be useful as a tool of intimidation. Other than that, she'd much rather be "loose as a long-necked goose."
Elderly Girl has increased her longevity so much that she sometimes fears she has gone overboard. She has been hogging the spotlight for so long, there must be millions of ingénues waiting in the wings for their turn.
Since "all the world is a stage," she has recently decided that a supporting role will be adequate from now on, as long as she can deliver an occasional, unsettling monologue and perhaps do a bit of pole dancing for the fans.
Nevertheless, her longevity will just keep getting longer. Herewith are more of her secrets (continued from Sept. 13), for you to use as you see fit:
*Make words up, and then toss them around liberally in your conversations with either the higher ups (the whitey pants) or the lower downs (the hip black dudes who really are the chief architects of our culture). Then sit back and allow yourself to blush modestly as your word or expression goes viral and enters the repertoire of everyone from Dick Cheney to Snoop Dawg. (Please don't blame Elderly Girl for "moving forward," "at this point in time," "sooner rather than later," "it's a win-win," etc. She is way too colorful and provocative to throw this pathetic stuff out there.) Being a creator of the contemporary lexicon plugs you into the pulse of the planet, retards aging very effectively and gives you a sort of immortality as well.
*Assert cheerfully that you can hardly wait to get Alzheimer's disease. Elderly Girl has found that the things she dreads or fears intensely enough don't happen, and neither do the things she wishes for most ardently. If dementia does strike her, you can bet that she will turn it into something cool -- a whole new subculture that will become as influential as hip-hop. She will embrace it as a new reality, a different realm of being, an unexplored frontier. And she could use one.
* Be delectable. Keep yourself so lusciously clean that people would gladly use your body as a serving platter for a formal, Fifth Avenue dinner party. Smell scrumptious. With proper hygiene - lots of suds and rousingly forceful hot water -- you can easily prevent that unfortunate aroma of elderliness and instead emit a stunning tastiness. One little sniff of you will cause mouths to water.
An important key to longevity is to retain that ability to trigger salivation in others. You remember how to be delicious, don't you? You'll get better service from everyone - including hair stylists and doctors - if you engage the chocolate-cream pie receptors in their brains.
If you have to call an ambulance, apply a little peanut butter cookie-aroma to your pulse points, and those EMTs will not let you die. They'll do CPR until they themselves succumb to cardiac arrest.
*Relate to teens and twenty-somethings as if they were your peers. "Did you catch that 'One Republic' concert? Was the Tattoo Convention any better this year? Where's the best place to get windsurfing lessons? Oh my god, have you been to that Death Art thing downtown - it is awesome. When you go to Vegas, where do you stay? What is the deal with Rihanna? Are there any vegan places near here?"
Elderly Girl believes you will find that you can actually feel the "youngness" cells blooming across your cheeks and beyond. The interaction is like having a high-powered juice drink, filled with antioxidants and anti-inflammatories.
*Express your most radical opinions - those that a prudent person would be inclined to keep to herself ("I think Osama bin Laden made lots of valid points" or "I feel kind of sorry for pedophiles.") -- and then feed off the rage and spite that come pouring down. Those who assault you are expending life-force energy, which you can then victoriously absorb. Ha ha!
*Think of your mother as your child. It will increase your longevity and decrease her power over you. Tell her to shut up and go to her room.
*Chew bubblegum, and blow bubbles. Why did we ever give up this delightful pastime? Elderly Girl believes they sneak something into Double Bubble - the way they used to put cocaine in Coke - that gooses your brain into girly-girl mode. It's rad! A whole bunch of your body parts will suddenly be pre-pubescent.
*Use baby shampoo, baby body wash and baby lotion. They go very well with bubble gum. And the aroma tricks your brain into babying you instead of committing apoptosis (cell death -- the fountainhead of aging).
*Ask questions. Play dumb. Even play bimbo - it's fun. Of course you know that you are the embodiment of wisdom -- and it's a soaring, majestic wisdom that is the product of many decades of insightful observation -- but keep it to yourself. Playing the wisdom card ages you. Naivete keeps you alive.
*Shop in the boy's department. If you really must wear clothes -- instead of living entirely in fabulous Jean Harlow-style pajamas and plush, ankle-length bathrobes - get yourself some teen-boy khakis or fatigues, some T-shirts that feature aggressive slogans and gruesome artwork, and some jaunty caps.
Casual is such a beautiful word. Be baggy, don't-care, sullenly adolescent. Flex your biceps and stare the world down with a squint that says, "Go ahead, make my day."
Consider keeping a toothpick in the corner of your mouth, since we really can't smoke anymore. Or an unlit cigar, although Bill Clinton kind of ruined that imagery for all time.
*Bowel vigor cannot be overestimated as a longevity aid. You need a bold, grand flushing out of your system at least once a day that feels as if you've been whooshed clean from the base of your skull all the way down to the end. An overall, tingly refreshment should envelop you. It should be an experience that is dramatic, even mind-boggling, in its force and thoroughness. If you feel like singing opera afterward, you'll know you did good. A plant-based diet is the secret.
*Flirt like a big-time slut. But only when you're online, and anonymously, of course! It doesn't matter how old you are or how craggy and saggy you look, you have a little flame inside you that Elderly Girl refers to as "psychosexual energy." If you find some chat room and mess around outrageously with a few college dudes every day or so, this flame will envelop your endocrine system with a throbbing, golden aura. The resultant release of hormones will turn back the clock physically and psychologically. Plus, you'll be laughing like mad the whole time you're tricking the suckers into thinking you're an 18-year-old sexpot. That will flush you with endorphins. See: this is all quite fun and easy!
*Neither give nor accept gifts. It is such a relief to get out of this rat race that you will feel years slip off of you immediately.
You know how miserable the whole thing is. You're agonizing about what to buy - will he like it, will he say he does even though he really doesn't, will he find out that you got it for half price?
And then the stuff you receive: Don't you almost always find that you don't like it, don't want or need it, and now you're required to wear it or display it or you will feel TOTALLY GUILTY? Why put ourselves through this torment, which ages us more than smoking a pack a day?
And don't you hate the mere act of opening presents? The awkwardness, the hopeful anticipation of the gift-giver, the imperative to swoon and gush over whatever you have unwrapped? You are almost always obliged to lie during these transactions.
This is just the sort of stress that smashes down your longevity.
Encourage everyone to give some money to charity and use the rest to pay down their credit-card bills.
*Throw your makeup in the trash! It ages you. Lordy, what a relief it is to stop gunking up your pores with paint and to glide through life with a gleaming, clean face. If you cease worrying about how you look, you'll immediately look better. And you will feel a sense of bravery, honesty and angelic loveliness as you strip off your "disguise" and boldly expose your real self. Before long, you'll be looking at made-up ladies and thinking, "How could I ever have slathered that crap on my skin! It's so fake, and it's gross!"
Bag the hair coloring, too. It's sad! Don't hide behind some fake auburn chemical. Elderly Girl's secrets to longevity are all about how you live, not how you lie. Turn that cobalt, silver or white mane into a wild and tumbling crown of glory.
*If you find yourself wearing a diaper, rejoice! That's about as young as it gets, right? You are succeeding brilliantly in your regression. Go with the "flow." This is a release -- a physical immersion so to speak -- in a long-lost time when life's adventure was just beginning. It's yet another facet of longevity -- this plunge back into youthiness. And now it comes in colors and prints, too, courtesy of Depends.
*Send an email to each of your lovers, saying thanks for the memories, but announcing that you are finished - absolutely finished - with all this romance business. Don't you feel lighter already? God -- why didn't we do this years ago? You will have more time and less aggravation. You won't miss them. (Elderly Girl has been engaged to Ralph Nader since 1971, but he almost never calls, so it's not a problem.) You've had way more love and sex than any reasonable woman requires. Move on.
*Get a sports car, for pete's sake! How did the elderly ever get taken in by the notion that some boring, generic sedan was required by law? Elderly Girl roars about in her bright yellow Miata convertible, wearing a colorful scarf and huge sunglasses. La Dolce Vita! She feels wild and flashy. People everywhere burst into song ("Who's that Girl?" by Madonna) as she zooms past. Longevity is in the passenger seat.
*Posture, posture! Nothing enhances your ageless appeal more than an erect bearing. It's good for your insides, too, giving your organs the space they need to pump, inflate, convulse, etc.
If you do have the misfortune of becoming bent over from osteoporosis, please use it to your advantage! You will have an air of sweet vulnerability that will inspire those around you to race to your assistance. You won't have to do a thing for yourself anymore. It never ceases to amaze Elderly Girl how you can flip an affliction into an asset.
*Create in yourself the conviction that somewhere inside you, a terminal illness is in progress. It's probably true, anyway. Doctors have noted many times that patients who are informed they have a fatal illness actually become energized by the news. They begin to experience everything with greater intensity and gratitude (ie. the song "Live Like You Were Dying," by Tim McGraw, and the copycat "Live Like We're Dying" by American Idol's Kris Allen).
Make peace with your "illness" (this fatal illness we call "life"), and serenely elect to let nature take its course. Stay away from doctors: They will just waste your time, rob you blind, contradict each other, display an absurd lack of familiarity with the latest research, bash your spirit and mess you up! Don't tell anyone about your condition; just feel the glow of your grace as you proceed in your elderliness with courage and dignity. This secret will give you a girlish radiance and most assuredly prolong your life.
*Never, ever look in the mirror. It takes a little getting used to, but it's easier than it sounds. Select the most beautiful era of your life, and visualize yourself as looking and feeling the way you did back then. Put a picture of yourself from that time in a prominent place. Become that girl again. It's not hard! She is you - you are she. You will be reunited in no time.
Visualization is an underrated life strategy. Elderly Girl visualizes herself as a spectacular 35-year-old (it was at this age that her beauty and intellect peaked), and that's exactly what she has become once again. She can feel it in her bones, especially her cheekbones and spine, and she can feel it in her eyes. Everyone declares: "You look like you're 35!"
This must be why some women post two photos of themselves with their obituaries - one young, the other old. It is because the old ones don't ring true. These ladies understand that they truly are their younger selves in every respect that is important.
We are who we are, yet we're also who we were.
We can build upon this sense that our elderly faces and bodies don't match who we really are by simply ignoring our elderly faces and bodies. As far as Elderly Girl is concerned, she doesn't have an elderly face or body.
If for some reason, you really must look in a mirror, don't look closely! You will see vast, horrific wrinkling, coarse hairs, broken capillaries, brown spots and other nightmarish features that YOU DON'T NEED TO KNOW ABOUT. Seriously: It will only hurt your feelings and sap you of your self-confidence. You won't achieve your wish to be an Elderly Girl. You will just be old.
*Toss off provocative remarks, leaving those around you feeling bewildered, amused or offended. Shock value is another youth-extending tactic that has not been adequately enlisted by the old ladies of the world. To have this kind of impact releases serotonin, dopamine and other neuroprotective chemicals. It keeps you sharp. It keeps you saucy. It gives you something to smile about later, just thinking about how unforgettable you are. This adds years to your life.
Don't give a shit about the judgments of others. If they frown upon your remarks or your behavior, who cares? You will discover that being disliked is a small price to pay for the longevity-enhancing ecstasy of being yourself.
*Talk back to all those insufferable NPR and television news personalities. It ages you to retain your disgust for their narcissism, their melodrama, their egomania, their cynical and cheap efforts to manipulate your emotions, their badly written, grammatically flawed scripts and their obvious conviction that THEY - with their beauty and aching compassion, their love for the common man and their wry, gentle senses of humor -- are the story. Don't just sit there seething. Yell! Vent! Hurl tennis balls at the TV or radio. Send vicious letters to Renee Montagne, Michelle Norris, Ann Curry and Diane Sawyer, urging them to retire to some distant island, where they can amuse each other with their stomach-turning fakery and leave us the hell alone. They may become news themselves as they form the first lesbian polygamous family. That would be unfortunate, because then we couldn't hate them anymore. We love gay people.
*Develop an agonizing, swooning crush on a teen idol. Elderly Girl has chosen Bruno Mars, and she aches for him the way she agonized over Fabian in the 1950s. It hurts to be in love - this screaming, adolescent puppy love -- but it's good for longevity. It gets juices flowing that keep your innards virginally sweet and dreamy. One day, if you blog about him enough, he might just show up at your door and give you a hug, after obtaining permission from your significant other. Bruno wouldn't have it any other way. He is such a gentleman!
*Take a stand against technology. You don't need a smartphone, an iPad, an e-Reader, a Blackberry and all those other gimmicks with their tiresome "apps." Any attempt to keep up with this endless deluge of "newness" will just tire you out and eviscerate your fixed income. All you need is a simple computer.
With this one modest, "old-fashioned" device, you have the entire world and everything you could ever want to know right at your fingertips. The Internet is a miracle. It has demolished the need to say, "I wonder." Just type a few words into Google, and BAM, there's the answer. Some day, it will make us both all-knowing and immortal. For the time being, it is definitely a life-extender, infusing our minds with insights that keep those neurons firing with exuberant abandon.
Live long, live strong, live with ravishing flair and ferocity.
*Add hatred and revenge to your repertoire. Really - forgiveness is highly overrated. Who came up with this idea, anyway? Elderly Girl doesn't care if it was even Jesus - whoever is behind this approach, which has become yet another unquestioned nostrum of our society - lacked psychological astuteness.
Hatred doesn't poison you. It is cleansing. Revenge fantasies can be incredibly rewarding, and they incite a roaring tumult in that reptilian amygdala of yours, as if you were some kid playing "World of Warcraft "or "Grand Theft Auto." Can't you feel those fine lines disappearing as adrenaline and collagen join forces?
Everyone is telling you that you should practice forgiveness for your own mental well-being - that it helps you to "move on" and not be "eaten up" by toxic resentment.
But to "forgive for your own good" is an act of self-deception. It is repression. It's a lie. Since when did that become healthy? It is murder, so to speak, on longevity. If you want to forgive the guy who rapes and dismembers your mother, well OK, that's your business and maybe you really can forgive him or convince yourself that you do. Hatred, when it is deserved -- when it is righteous indignation - is enlivening.
*Plan your suicide and acquire the materials necessary to execute it. Keep them, preferably in an attractive box, in a convenient place, such as your linen closet. It is comforting to know that if and when you want Out, you are prepared. It's certainly conceivable that after all this longevity, one can get sick of the whole thing. Knowing that you can end your life at your discretion gives you a life-enhancing sense of autonomy. It provides remarkable peace of mind.
*Stand up for yourself and others. Don't take it lying down. Don't turn the other cheek. Don't be meek and humble. Don't defuse the situation - throw gasoline on the flames and burn the bastards to a crisp. Don't put your tail between your legs, or whatever that saying is. Be a warrior bitch, and relish your very not-elderly power.
*Play that funky music, white girl. Plunge your brain into the music that is geared toward young people. It's some good stuff -- as good as it was when we were kids. Pretty soon, you'll be bopping along to it girlishly. It will lift you up, even though it is programmed to engage a 14-year-old brain. It will keep you seeing the world through youthful eyes. Get hip to this scene, baby.
*Garden. It is boring, messy and tiresome, as far as Elderly Girl is concerned, but the payoff is magnificent. Grow herbs and tomatoes, garlic, peas and beans. But most of all, grow greens. All kinds of them. You will be dazzled by their glory. Cut them, wash and chop them, throw them in a pan with garlic and olive oil. What you will taste is pure life. Your blood will hum with ardent gratitude. Eat food that is gorgeous (you know what we mean: look at the produce department). It will keep you gorgeous.
*Scream. The life-prolonging benefits that come with essentially puking your guts out cannot be overestimated. Hurl! Afterward, you tingle with relief. You feel renewed, and not at all elderly.
"Primal-scream therapy" has lost its cachet, but its premise remains valid. If you would prefer not to go to some venue where screaming is acceptable - a sports event or rock concert or hideously scary, vile movie - just do it at home, in a soundproofed room, if necessary. Then, have a nap.
*Have a love affair with your bed. Elderly Girl doesn't mean one of those grandiose, satiny "slumber thrones," covered in useless pillows and hung over with canopy-like fabric. A wonderfully cozy and comfy bed with clean, soft sheets, blanket and comforter is all that is required.
Sleep is an underrated aspect of physical and intellectual hygiene.
Program your mind to calculate sleep as another life, in another world. This tactic can prevent your slumber hours from being counted as part of your "real life," which all by itself should increase your longevity by one-third. Not bad!
*Role play: Expand your repertoire of selves. Be formidable, or try being all quivery, delicate and tremulous. Wear disguises and adopt fake identities. Lie for sport. Tell tall tales. Feign disabilities (maintain a cache of crutches, casts, big, bloody bandages, etc.) and let the compassion of others fill you with life-force. The exhilaration you experience when you are "being someone else" is very much like taking drugs, although it rarely becomes addictive.
This is kind of like immersing yourself in "Second Life," or one of those other "massive multiplayer" computer worlds, except that you are your own avatar. You will have a lot more fun and freedom and spontaneity if you role play in the real world.
*Indulge your moods and personas. Let that hillbilly out - roast up some squirrel and drink out of a Mason jar. Be a sassy black girl who don't take no shit from nobody. Be Jackie O. Be Mata Hari in harem pants and a turban. Be Cruella de Ville. Be a teenage girl, looking at everything with an OMG roll of the eyes. Be a hippie, a tight-assed prude, a Commie pinko, railing against capitalism, a perky, no-nonsense Mrs. Cleaver.
The point is: Amuse yourself. It keeps you laughing and brainstorming. Good for longevity.
*Ask elderly people (even if they are younger than you) to tell you about "the olden days" (as if you didn't know!). Express fascination with the hilarious mindset, lifestyle, recipes and technology, so to speak, of the 1950s. Regard these oldsters as darling beings who deserve your gentle assistance and respect. Tease them affectionately, pat their shoulders, heave their heavy parcels out of the shopping cart and into their car trunks. Then skip away.
*Sneak into nursing homes and deploy random acts of kindness. Then vanish like the Lone Ranger. Who was that unmasked girl? Actually, dear friends, this is no laughing matter. These places are utter hell-holes. Slink in and you will find dozens of the sweetest people you'd ever hope to meet lying helplessly in steaming heaps of their own poop. It smells like dinosaur diarrhea, or something like that -- from another eon. You must learn not to wretch and gag, but please make the effort, and then clean them up with the greatest of care. You will find adorable ladies and gentlemen strapped to wheelchairs in the halls, some of whom want desperately to go back to their rooms but don't have the strength or sense of direction to get there. Intervene, with warmth and good humor. Feel the youthful spring in your step as you come to the rescue. When you get them back to their rooms, brush their hair or massage aromatic lotion into their extremities. Kiss them on the forehead. Whatever elderliness you may occasionally feel will dissolve into grateful vigor as you perform these small tasks that make all the difference to a fellow human being.
*Write your obituary (if you want to have one. It should be at least as bizarre and bewildering as your life has been. You could even just make the whole thing up. Elderly Girl is going to simply disappear, as if The Rapture had arrived and she was the first one selected to go to Heaven. Or maybe she'll submit her obituary in a year or two so she can get rid of the paparazzi and the endless pilgrimages of women who seek her advice on skin care, financial planning,"keeping love alive," weight training, interior design, yoga for dummies, etc., etc.)
Draft your will. Get your estate plans established and leave clear instructions on the disposition of your remains. Then, never give it another thought. Proceed with your girlish, seemingly endless, life.
*Embrace your eccentricities and neuroses instead of fighting or attempting to hide them. Be receptive to any mental illness that you might be predisposed to. Craziness is youthanizing.
*Talk to yourself. It is amazing how much you can learn. You will discover that your running commentary is witty and insightful. Giving voice to your mind's workings reinforces its observant and analytical vigor. Be affectionate when you speak to yourself, as in: "How about some dinner, you sweet thing?"
When people stare, ignore them or smile. Or spit! It's your damn life!
*Threaten a lawsuit, whenever it isn't too far-fetched. It gets people jumping, which makes you the Grand Instigator, a very stimulating role. If you actually do wind up in court, there is nothing sexier than being on the witness stand.
Treat the judge as a trusted father figure, even if he is young enough to be your grandson. Glare at the prosecutor with heroic self-assurance. You are the star, all eyes are on you, and you can be defiant or poignantly tearful or anything you choose. You can actually feel your longevity longetifying. You are a "person of interest" forever in the minds of those who witnessed your performance. They'll probably make a Hollywood blockbuster about you. (Charlize Theron has been selected to star in "Elderly Girl: The Litigious Years.")
*Go through your house from top to bottom, and donate or discard everything that you don't need or use, which is probably about 75 percent of the crap you own. You will feel so much younger and so much lighter, you'll be like a baby-girl eagle swooping elegantly through space.
*Become a pessimist. Optimism is yet another overrated attitude, and our whole smiley-face, "have-a-great-day" culture is absolutely insufferable. You have a great day, silly person, and leave me the fuck alone! People need to stop telling Elderly Girl what to "have."
Pessimism keeps you from being stupid. Optimists get kicked in the head and proven wrong and made to look silly so often that it is a major driver of aging. If you're a pessimist, you will be pleasantly surprised if things go well - as they occasionally do - and you'll be the Smartest Smarty Pants in town the rest of the time. If you're braced for the worst, you will be fully equipped to handle it. You'll breeze through bad times like a babe.
*Remove yourself from the celebration of holidays, especially Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's. What a hellish season! You'll add years to your life by withdrawing from that rat race! Don't permit a calendar that was devised by people who aren't the boss of you force you into any sort of mood, behavior, ritual, or socializing.
*"Whatever." This attitude works so effectively for kids, let's co-opt it shamelessly and use it constantly. It resolves all sorts of conundrums. It allows you to be effortlessly, cavalierly dismissive. Just go with the flow. Don't get too invested in any particular outcome or in anything at all. Elderly Girl often hears ghostly whispers in the air, but she couldn't care less: "You're old! You're gross! You could die any minute!"
*Hug yourself. There will be moments when it is impossible to ignore the fact that you, my dear, are old. You look like a flailing insect when you're trying to get out of the Miata. You can't read labels or the phone directory. You keep dropping things, falling down, forgetting what you were about to say, leaving the burner on high. During these increasingly frequent and lengthy lapses, look at yourself with loving kindness. Think of the affection and patience with which you've always treated senior citizens, and bestow upon yourself this same tenderness. You're fine. You are a joy. You did it beautifully, and you did it to death.
With much love,