January 20, 2012 § 31 Comments
Party a few nights ago, the first of 2012.
I had made an effort: my tried and trusted black dress, a substantial amount of heel and a certain amount of make-up. I go in for mascara and the Cleopatra eyeliner, but don’t wear lipstick because I find irksome the greasy feeling on my lips. I looked in the mirror beforehand and registered, “Old.” It is funny, some evenings when I dress up, I feel it just works somehow and I am looking good. When I say “good”, I am talking relatively here. I don’t mean especially good in the wider sense, I just mean good on the measure of my own little personal spectrum. This spectrum wouldn’t be anywhere like adequate for use by even a B list celeb. She wouldn’t buy it. It’s a cheap, un-detailed one, made in Taiwan, probably came out of a cracker, and only goes from Shit to Old to Fat to A Bit Better to Good. There is no Very Good, Bloody Amazing, Drop Dead Gorgeous, Fucking Fantastic or Sex on Legs. Plain ol’ Good is situated on the very far right of my spectrum, is the best it’s ever going to get, and scores none too many hits these days.
Anyway, at the party, I was introduced to the wife of somebody I used to work with years ago. We shook hands and she had a very friendly smile. The first thing she said was, “I love your face!” This unusual compliment just sort of burst out of her. I was flattered and thanked her but said I could assure her it was just make-up.
“I promise you I look like shit without it,” I told her, and she laughed.
It was a strange but pleasing compliment arriving out of the blue in that context (drinks party) and from a complete stranger, a woman at that. It was nice to hear but, being me of course, and in the thick of the January blues, all I could think of was not, “What a lovely thing to hear,” and “Bloody lucky, your age, to get any compliments at all, Love!”, but, “Why couldn’t it have been a nice man saying that to me instead of a nice middle-aged woman?”
No man has said anything that nice to me for as long as I can remember. (Well, that’s not quite true; my men friends do say things that are kind; I mean a prospective man, I guess). The best type of compliments I get these days, and the ones which give me untold joy, are the ones that are directed not at me but at my children. That’s the stage I am at in life. Very telling. Coincides with the stage when your own birthdays come and go with puzzling speed and you’re lucky if you get a single present. Compliments now come occasionally from a colleague but mainly from family, friends and other women. From men? Nah. One of those things from the past which I never, ever took for granted, but which seems to have frittered out from my existence almost unconsciously over the years, like erstwhile designs on Cornflakes packets; only, unlike new incarnations of Cornflakes packets, this is something which has never been even subtly rebranded.
What does it matter?
I suppose it doesn’t matter, or shouldn’t much.
There again, no getting around it, it is kind of sad.