I’m pleased and excited to announce the release on Tuesday, October 4th, of my third book of essays: Laughing My Way Through the Third Stage: Selected Essays that Skewer the Golden Years. Unlike my first two books, whose essays addressed the random irritants of everyday life, I have devoted this volume to all of you who are sharing my journey through the decades. In other words, those of you old enough to still be using AOL as your email address and stubbornly refusing to give it up! And even if you’re not, I’m sure you know someone who is who could use a good laugh.
The book will be immediately available at Amazon, and other on-line booksellers, in both soft-cover and Kindle editions. And with a little luck, you will also be able to find it on the shelf of your local bookstore. I’ll keep you posted about that.
Borrowing from Amazon, who allows you to “Look Inside” before purchase, I’m offering a sneak peek between the covers. Below is the Introduction and the reason why I chose to write this book. And if enough of you decide to buy it, I’ll consider investing in a new sweater!
“The older you get, I have to say, the funnier you find life. That’s the only way to go. If you get serious about yourself as you get old, you are pathetic.”
The quote above is from Diana Rigg, the actress, born 1938, died 2020. I found it in The New York Times on Monday, December 28, 2020, on a page that was a tribute to culture notables who died that year. Diana, I couldn’t have said it better myself.
I, like many other vintage Americans, was introduced to Diana Rigg when she played Mrs. Emma Peele in the 1960s TV spy import from Britain, The Avengers. She was twenty-seven at the time. Younger fans remember her as the sharp-tongued Olenna from Game of Thrones. She was then seventy-five. In between is a long list of her other roles, from Shakespeare to James Bond.
If I’m correctly interpreting the intent of Dame Diana’s statement, I believe she’s saying that if one laments all the indignities of aging, there is a risk of seeing oneself as a sad and pitiable creature. In other words, pathetic!
When I started my blog over ten years ago (that I have borrowed from for some of the essays in this book), the goal was to exercise my third stage privilege of commenting on life with a bit of cynicism and satire. So, it was inevitable that as I moved further along the aging spectrum, I would turn that irony upon myself. After reading the words of Diana Rigg, I took stock of the occasions when I had actually made fodder out of my own condition.
I have questioned the wisdom of, at a certain age, paying a higher price for a product because it comes with a life-time warranty. I applied the same logic before I chose to undergo some very expensive dental work. Did it come with a guarantee that I would outlive my teeth?
Skewering fashion and our changing body image is something that has brought me joy. The foolishness of trying to navigate a journey of a quarter mile wearing four-inch heels. The trauma of needing a new bathing suit. The question of whether going sleeveless was permissible after a certain age. Or creating a new publication, The AARP Fall Fashion Preview, after recognizing that, as an “older” woman, the glossy fashion magazines had nothing in them for me.
And talk about losses! And who, at this age, doesn’t talk about losses? And losses come in many shapes and sizes. Unfortunately, there is the loss of friends, which is never funny. But what about the informal agenda of my husband’s annual high school reunions? First, there is the rundown of the condition of one’s body parts, then, who knows the best doctors, and finally, a drug update. All of which leads to the inevitable “alive or dead” game as they try to figure out if so-and-so, whom no one has heard from in quite a while, is simply ignoring the group or something worse.
I’ve written about losing my fingerprints, my left shoulder, the ability to sleep through the night, and losing almost two inches of height. Losing my cataracts was a welcome loss, but not without its downside. Seeing my face after the gauzy film was removed from my eyes made me want to consider cosmetic surgery as part of my aftercare.
And, f course, who could resist taking stabs at a society that tends to devalue us as we age. I say rail at those who judge us as dinosaurs because we still use AOL. And fie on the media who insists on describing anyone over sixty as elderly.” Or those who say “she used to be very pretty” about a woman of a certain age because she doesn’t look like she did when she was sixteen.
There are more essays I could mention, but I think I’ve made my point about a shared philosophy. And so, dear Diana, it’s too bad you never got to read my blog posts. You would have been very proud of me!
And let me end this with some wisdom from another celebrity icon, Betty White, who lived to nearly 100. In an interview on Entertainment Tonight, she said that she planned to spend her 100th birthday in quarantine due to Covid. Unfortunately, she didn’t quite make it. And what did she say was the secret to a long life? Why, a sense of humor, of course.