It’s my birthday today, and here’s a secret: I’m 43.
OK, it’s not much of a secret, because I am lucky enough to have tons of friends from childhood who know myÂ age, my birth date is up on my Facebook profile, and what’s more, I have written here and elsewhere that I was 42 (when I was) and 41 (when I was that, until just over a year ago.) I am not above gilding the lily about many, many things, but to lie about something as irrefutable as the date you came busting out, covered with mucus and screaming bloody murder has always seemed to me rather pointless, not to mention futile.
I was in a car service the other day and got stuck in traffic. I was on my way to have my photo taken for my book jacket by my friend Kely (who is an amazing photog), so I was painted like the store-bought hussy that I am, or used to be before I got married. The driver and I got to chatting (Him: laid off engineer for IBM. Me: would-be supermodel but for an unfortunate genetic twist of fate). He was a doll, not least of all because when the subject rolled around to how long each of us had been living in NYC and I said 43 years on Tuesday, he said, “No way you’re 43! I thought you were my age!” Which was 31.
Obviously I was chuffed (U.K.ism for psyched, which I love because it sounds just like what it means–all goofy pleased) and walked around for the rest of the day about six inches off the ground. All because I was honest about my age, which I already am.
Then it occurred to me: What would happen if I lied about my age, but upward, to intimate that I am older than 43, rather than shaving off a few years, as is the usual way? The driver (who I will be requesting from now on whenever I call that car service) was pleasantly surprised at the discrepancy between my real age and his conjecture. What if I simply widened that differential by a couple of years? Wouldn’t the happy miscalculation elicit even more of a disbelieving reaction? What if I claimed to be 45? 47? 50, even? How good would people think I looked for someone born in 1960? They’d wonder what fabulous skincare product I use, who my high-end dermatologist is, if I’d had work done, and marvel at the mad skillz of my nonexistent plastic surgeon!
Dude, I’m so on it! From now on, I’m going to say I’m 46, and if people believe that, I’m going to scootch it up it a few years and see if that flies. I’m 48 and I smear outrageously expensive elephant toe jam imported from East Asia on my crows feet morning and evening! I’m 49 and detox every six months by using a top secret infusion of toddler toenails to wash down thousands of dollars worth of Suzanne Somers’ bioidentical hormones! I’m 50 and…well, no, nothing special. I just use sunscreen and do yoga and eschew processed foods like Hollywood celebrities of a certain age always claim to do in People magazine to look as good as they do.
Or maybe I’ll just say I’m 43, but say it in a way that sounds like I’m lying, to infuse the whole conversation with an air of doubt and mystery. “I’m, um…” (twirls her hair, shifts her eyes, turns her wedding ring nervously around on her finger) “…43!” Think of the speculation! Future hopefully bestselling author on the subject of aging out of young who by some miracle gets to appear on Oprah is discovered to have LIED about her age! Hypocrite! James Frey-like buzz! Sells even more books!!
Or maybe I’ll just say I’m 43, like I mean it, because who really gives a shit? OK. I do, a little, obviously enough to write about it, anyway. But I shouldn’t. And neither should anyone.