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.

I have never been a member of Congress, or any other elected body. I have never spent days arguing over one or two percentage points that don't matter while lives really do hang in the balance—I mean: by nooses, from rafters, in barely lit basements, for real, out of actual despair, because of the failure of what is not a system at all. I have never voted Republican, but I have never voted Democratic either—I always vote for the Liberal candidate, because I am liberal, very liberal, very very very liberal. (I even voted for Giuliani that way.) I have never been a pundit, so I don't say the same things everyone else is saying, and then keep saying them repeatedly, redundantly, over and over again, on and on, on TV. I don't make predictions about trivial matters or even about important matters, because what is the point? We will know soon enough. I do not worry about what is going to happen; I enjoy what is happening. We will know which way the wind blows the weathervane when it starts spinning. Sure enough: Susan Rice is not Secretary of State. Only an idiot would have predicted that such a thing could possibly come to pass. Only an idiot would prognosticate at all. Such activities only give you gray hair. I am going to die a dirty blonde. A very dirty blonde.

This seems a good time to mention something about my voting record: My ex-boyfriend, who works for the government, tells me that the Liberal Party in New York was just a money-making scheme for some crooked politician, and really it would have been better if I had not cast so many ballots as I did. Apparently, this is the way of third parties. It is, of course, the way of political parties in general. Don't you get the feeling that they are all money-making schemes for some crook? I kind of do. But more to the point, I would love my ex-boyfriend to take a stroll through my home, and tell me what of all that I own—including the rented apartment I don't own—is not essentially a money-making scheme for some crooked person somewhere. My iPad, my iPhone, my iBook, my iJail: I am Steve Jobs' bitch in so many ways, and my world is cluttered with stuff that I need or don't, but excepting my very wonderful fake chinchilla comforter which is warm and wonderful—part Arctic Circle, part Nevada Whorehouse—I can think of few things that have made me quite so happy as I am when voting on the Liberal ticket. Because I like doing what I want. And I will let the train in vain of corrupt politicians run down someone else's track. I have learned that most things are not my problem.

Nothing is more bracing than not being concerned about what other people think. I have no idea why anyone cares. Trust me: No one is looking. I know: I am looking. People are self-involved. They are all waiting for you to ask about how gifted their kids are. I wish people were judging each other a great deal more, and more carefully, but they are not. Knowing this, I have no trouble being myself. It works well. I will die screaming.

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