Aging damsels in distress

Looking for an upside of any unpleasant issue is healthy. Aging? Nobody really wants to grow old. Couldn’t somebody have dreamed up another way to end our stay on planet Earth?

Wouldn’t we all rather be 19 again? My mother used to say, “I’ll come back if I can come back in a 19-year-old body.”

That always made good sense to me. She died young, but at 69 she was still a darling little old lady. She knew how to dress for her age. I have a picture of her driving a pony at the Phoenix A to Z Horse Show wearing a red velvet gown with winter ermine trim. Class.  

It’s odd to think that I’m almost 14 years older than my mother. Eight years older than my father. Twenty-five years older than my husband. The oldest living member of my entire family — both sides of the house — I’m not a spring chicken but I’m not the family matriarch, either. Lucky me.  

Like my mother, my silhouette’s still good. If I cover up the bad stuff and the light’s dim, I can reduce the damage. It was Gypsy Rose Lee who said, “I’ve still got what I came in with. Only my cargo’s shifted.”

May end up having to wear Chic Islamic Clothing. Sunglasses and red shoes.

Colette (1873-1954) French writer, said, “You will do foolish things but do them with enthusiasm.”

Leave it to the French. Don’t you just love it?

During World War II, Colette aided Jewish friends and when she died she was given a state funeral. I love her. Identify with everything but her sexual preference. She loved cats and dogs and her desk was as cluttered as mine. Very gifted woman. She wrote and was a dance hall performer. My favorite book was Green Wheat. If she was a 10, guess I am a five? Four?

She didn’t age well. She knew it and was vain.

I kind of think I learned some tricks she didn’t though. Drama. Always works and never fails.

At 83 — almost — I certainly can play the age card. Fun. Fun. Any little old lady can do it.

Look helpless. Fragile. Even if you’re wearing smelly sweats and no make up. “Sir? Can you help an aging damsel in distress?” A slight quiver in your voice. Hands delicately shaking. Kind of a forlorn smile. Shillelagh held half-mast. Gracefully stooped. Eyelids batting.

My goodness, ‘they’ come from everywhere. Carry packages. Open doors. Introduce me to their wives and kids and dogs and girlfriends. Give me a ride home — when I’ve had a misunderstanding with a companion — in the back seat of their patrol car. Open the gate. Light my way into the house. Stay for a cup of coffee.

Love men in uniform.

Chivalry is not dead — if you’re 82 going on 83 and know how to press the right buttons.

Colette would have loved it. Healthy for guys, too. Try it.

• Bettejo Dux is a Kalaheo resident and author of “The Scam: A madcap romp through North Shore Kauai.”


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