Not so decayed

Sketch for Ursula Andress’s make-up for the ageing sequence in ‘She’At what point does “immaturity” become “youthfulness”?

“You’re so im-mat-chure” was the deepest insult my teenage peers could sling at anyone and we were desperate to grow up, so when did the tables get reversed?

I confused a colleague yesterday about something, and she checked my age with elegant delicacy. It turns out she thought I was a good decade younger than in fact I am. I cannot pretend I didn’t feel a little smug. Mind you, it probably has more to do with her own inexperience than anything else and of course the one advantage of superfluous avoirdupois is that excess oestrogen’s good for the skin. (I am sure the medics who read this will put me right if I’ve got that wrong).

But on the other hand, what about that extra decade of experience? Where did that go? I have learned so much, done so much, felt so much, grown so much in the last ten years. What about that?

Perhaps the reason she thinks I am so much younger than I am (and the reason I’ve pulled the one I’ve pulled) is that I can behave – well – rather immaturely. I flirt. I giggle. I swear like a trooper. (Make that a fucking trooper). I kick back. I tease my colleagues. I make jokes in meetings. I laugh. I don’t flick ink-pellets across the office though; there are limits, you understand.

Surely at some point all this becomes inappropriate, mutton behaving like lamb?

When does immaturity become a good thing? At what point is growing up bad?

I have an irritating ex-boss who runs marathons which more than proves we are members of entirely different species. She told me today about a mutual colleague who’d told his wife she was “becoming a very beautiful middle aged women”. Now, I like that as a compliment. I like it when people think I’m beautiful, I prefer the maturity of men who can appreciate a woman over 30 and maybe our mutual colleague just likes MILFs and is glad he’s married to one.

I was bemused by Marathon Woman’s horror and couldn’t get her to consider that “middle aged” might be a statement not a judgement. I find being middle aged rather useful, not to mention subversively powerful.

So how come being immature was the worst thing we could be when we were teenagers, and now it’s a compliment?

3 responses to “Not so decayed

  1. It’s all cruel semantics, to my mind.

    “Immature” obviously means young, almost childishly so. I think having experience and maturity are desirable, so how can “immaturity” coexist since that’s opposite?

    I’d say it’s just connotations to the word that force us along that train of thought.

    Cheery chatter, flirtatious banter, good humour and laughter, relaxed interactions . . . in what sense is any of that immature?

    I’d reframe it as a vibrant, healthy joie de vivre and leave it at that 🙂

  2. I confess I would also be delighted if someone suggested I was ten years younger than I am (though with my grey hairs that would be unlikely to happen), but having said that, if I had to choose between you and Marathon Woman for someone to have as a friend, you’d win. I value wit over fit.

  3. I think P J O’Rourke summed it up for me in the title of his book “Age and Guile beat Youth and a Bad Haircut”.

    Why is it that the hairstyles of 20 years before always look ridiculous?

    Thanks gentlepeoples for your encouragement.


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