I Refuse to Be a Grown-Up

Secrets to looking young at 45
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Boston Public Library

I went to a party in Williamsburg, where I definitely do not live, and was 50 percent older than anyone else. When I told a gentleman that I am 45, he was shocked. He wondered what I know that Ponce de Leon did not. Mainly it is a refusal to be a grown-up. Or just having missed the leading milestones. I have never been married, which has spared me the unhappiness of that, and the misery of a divorce. Or two. Or three. I don't have kids, so I don't invest energy in telling people how gifted my children are, or in figuring out how deep into the spectrum of autism they fall—nor do I turn over my hard-earned cash to SAT tutors and Mandarin coaches. Of course, I have been deprived of the pleasure of breastfeeding my baby on a barstool in a Park Slope tavern while nursing a Campari and soda, but I will survive the privation. (And it may yet happen.) Evasion and avoidance are hallmarks of youth.

I have been very promiscuous, sometimes with men I get to know better and sometimes with men I never see again, but the pleasure is mine. I did too many drugs until enough was enough, but I would not have missed it for all the drugs I haven't done since. I am preternaturally truthful. I scream and yell about what bothers me. I promptly apologize when I am wrong, and sometimes when I am not, sometimes just to make things better: Love means having to say you are sorry quite a lot, actually. I spend money like it is going out of style, which it is. I wear very short skirts and very high heels whenever it is appropriate, and sometimes when it is not. I have far too many pairs of jeans and platform boots. Oh well. I don't eat meat, and I eat lots of salad: boring. I drink red wine—never white, which does not count—but not for breakfast anymore: boring. I love a great cocktail—I especially love the kinds with blueberries or pomegranates in them that no serious drinker would countenance. What is so great about being serious? I used to do cocaine and go running; now I just go running. I am fiercely loyal. I am vicious when necessary, sometimes just for fun. I put Vitamin E on my lips. I solve most problems with duct tape, and most problems can be solved with duct tape. I tell people what I need. I insist. I say what I want, which is the same as what I need. I choose my principles over my desires. But I will lose an argument over a matter of principle sooner than I will give in over a matter of honor: My honor is my deepest principle, and I will be damned if anyone is going to be disrespectful, even or especially for dumb reasons.

Sometimes, maybe even a lot, I say things that are ridiculous. Sometimes I am ridiculous. There are worse things.

I live with a wolf and a panther—actually, a dog and a cat, both black, both very wild, it's better that way. I am interested. I am interested in everything, except the things that aren't interesting, which is too much lately. When I meet someone new, I don't ask about his job, and I try to avoid finding out for as long as is possible, because what you do for a living is not who you are: I have dated enough bartenders and, worse, lawyers to know that. I wear sunscreen during the day and Retin-A at night. I do what I want. I don't do what other people want me to do. Sometimes I don't do things I want to do because someone else wants me to do them too badly. I am just that way: I cannot be bossed around. I listen carefully when someone is talking to me. I ask for help. I offer to help.

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