Pushed out of the Age Closet


In the weeks before my debut novel released, I resembled a child anticipating her jump from single digit birthdays to the doubles: 10! I could barely sleep—my husband groaned as I slipped out of bed at 4 in the morning. I ignored him and crept away, sneaking off to self-google in privacy.

As I waited for my launch date, invitations began trickling in. A reading at a library. Yay! I love libraries. A fundraiser for domestic violence. Wonderful—a perfect marriage of promotion and altruism. I could appease my inner scolding puritan while getting my book in front of people.

And then my publicist called with news of an event on book release day. Hallelujah—something to do besides scuttle from bookstore to bookstore, peeking between my fingers to see whether my book was boldly displayed up front with the big girls, or hidden deep in the back, only her sad narrow spine visible.

“What is it?” I asked, imagining a signing at the Harvard Book Store. A modest five minutes on the New England Cable News Network. She cleared her throat.

“It’s a Blogtalk radio show. Feisty Over Fifty.”

Was she kidding? This was my release day reward? Feisty Over ‘Effin Fifty?

Being a good girl, I, of course, swallowed my teary disappointment and thanked my lovely publicist (tender in her twenties.) Okay, so I’d spend my launch day coming out of the closet. Here I am, world: feisty. over. fifty.  Not that I thought anyone would believe I was a wunderkind. Have your first child at 21, and you’re pretty much locked out of the lie-about-your-age club.

But did I have to wear the number on my sleeve?

With the news of my soon-to-be coming blogtalk debut, instead of obsessing over my book, I obsessed over being feisty. over. fifty. Because that’s what this world does to us. Makes us squeamish about our age—as though once we pass a certain number admitting one’s age becomes indecent.

I worried. Would young listeners recoil in disgust from the book written by some wrinkly woman? I don’t know, but the show was a delight. The host, Eileen Williams was so warm, funny, and smart, that she stopped me from proceeding down my squirmy path. I realized something. I am over fifty—well over. Newsflash, each of us will pass through every age once. Twenty-somethings become fifty; fifty-somethings turn eighty (if they are lucky.) Why turn away in shame?

This is what I know:

I am happier at 57 than ever before. After spending my twenties and thirties playing Money Jeopardy (“Pay-Which-Bill-in August?” “What is electric,  Alex?“) I can write checks on time and without whiskey. In the second half of my forties, I found the love of my life and we married just before we tumbled into fifty. My daughters and son-in-law are all kind, wise, and honorable people whose company I love. My granddaughter is healthy and, of course, the best little kid in the world.

In January, I realized an enduring dream and Lulu and Merry, those two characters who broke my heart, were brought into existence.

Life is good. I am happy. If you want to call me feisty. over. fifty, I’m just fine with that.

(Summer reprise post)

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  1. Peter Golden
    Posted August 13, 2012 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

    What a lovely story! And what a wonderful novel you wrote!

  2. Posted August 15, 2012 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

    Hey, I just turned sixty a month ago, so let’s discuss no further! (Sad Over Sixty?) Check out Peter’s interview on my blog this Sunday (http://carrtalks.wordpress.com)

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