Shortly after Christmas, one of my friends asked if I would like to go and see a play with her. She and her husband are both retired, so she normally goes to the theatre with her husband, but he didn't want to see this particular play. I hadn't been to the theatre for several months, so I jumped at the chance. She said that she would book the tickets the following day. I received an email from her the next day, confirming that she had done as she had promised, but I was horrified to read that she had bought 2 senior citizens' tickets! She said that she would lend me Crimplene trousers and a headscarf, if I needed them!
My eyes widened in horror. Did I look older than my years? Would I pass for 60? I was still a few months away from 55! I suddenly saw the humour in the situation and laughed aloud. My husband reacted in the same way - disbelief and then laughter. My friend had also said, in her email, that if I changed my mind about going to see the play, her husband would go instead, so I assumed that this was the reasoning behind my reduced rate ticket. If her husband had to go instead of me, they didn't want to have to pay the full price for the second ticket.
I told some of my other friends about my predicament, when we next met up for coffee, and they were dismayed for 5 seconds, before startling the other customers, in the local cafe, with their uncontrollable laughter. One friend was so amused, that she had to make a dash for the toilet, in order to avoid an unwelcome accident in her clean undergarments. She was rather unfortunate, in that the toilet on our floor was out of order, and she was forced to mince down a flight of stairs to the ground floor. She assured us that she got there in time and we assured her that we believed her.
I emailed another friend of mine, explaining about my little dilemma, thinking that she too would find it amusing, but she was quite indignant on my behalf. She couldn't understand what my other friend was thinking about and very kindly said that I would have more chance of passing for a student than a senior citizen. She is a friend indeed!
Privately, I was slightly worried about presenting a reduced rate ticket at the theatre. What would make me feel worse, to be challenged or not?
I tried to reassure myself that I didn't have to worry, but, as a middle-aged woman, I was more accustomed to trying to avoid looking older than my years, so I felt that I'd been presented with a bit of challenge. I considered my options and was forced to acknowledge, on reflection, that I had already given myself a weensy head start towards appearing older than my years, because I'd recently put on some weight, gained some unsightly facial hair and I had begun to groan each time I collapsed heavily into a comfy seat. Perhaps I didn't have too big a problem after all.
I tried to conjure up some mental images of older women, from television programmes. Should I go for the Nora Batty look, with the extra-wide-fitting, flat shoes and wrinkly stockings? I could buy a skirt with an elasticated waist, a baggy long cardigan and a shapeless, beige, knee-length showerproof mac'. I didn't have time to knit myself a hat, but I could commandeer the tea cosy, as long as I sewed up the holes for the spout and handle and I could make the time to knit myself a pair of mittens to match.
On the other hand, perhaps I could better achieve my aims by adopting the attitude of Marina, a supporting character in Last of the Summer Wine, who played the part of Howard's blowsy, blonde girlfriend. In the programme, her character succeeded admirably in highlighting her advancing years, by trying to dress as she had probably dressed 40 years before. She wore outsize earrings, low cut tops, micro mini skirts and tottered about in 6 inch stilettos. It would, no doubt, be tremendous fun to dress up like that, but I would probably catch my death of cold and break one of my arthritic hips. I reluctantly dismissed that thought from my head.
After much ridiculous deliberation, I decided that the only effort I was actually prepared to make, to try and appear the necessary 6 years older, was to perch my wire-framed reading glasses on the end of my nose. If anyone dared to challenge me, I would pretend that I hadn't heard what they had said, call them 'dear' and tell them to speak up and stop mumbling.
The day that we were to see the play finally arrived. We had lunch before the performance and, as we walked towards the theatre, I began to rummage in my handbag for my glasses. 'I'm just going to put my specs on, so that I look a bit older,' I said.
'What for?' asked my friend. My next words died on my lips, as my suspicions were finally aroused. She began to laugh silently, as she fumbled for the tickets in her handbag. 'I'd forgotten all about that,' she finally managed to gasp. 'It was just a wind-up. You didn't seriously think I would do that to you, did you?'
On reflection, the next day, I wondered why it had never occurred to me to ask my friend for the ticket, when I gave her the money for it. If I'd seen the ticket, I would perhaps have realised that it was a full price one, or, if it had occurred to me to ring the theatre, I would then have discovered that I didn't need to pay anything extra. I was so busy wondering how, or whether, I could pass as a senior citizen, that I never thought of it. To a certain extent, the whole episode brought back memories of my teenage years, when I was trying to look older to get into the cinema, or the pub'. I've obviously got a vaguely dishonest streak.
Incidentally, after sending for the wide-fitting shoes, the baggy cardigan, the elasticated skirt and the beige,knee-length, showerproof mac', I decided to keep them, as they are so wonderfully warm and comfortable. The hat and mittens are terribly 'cosy', too. Has anyone seen my plastic rainhat?
A good bit of gossip
13 hours ago