I have lots of good reasons to feel old. I just passed my 57th birthday, a number so uneventful it barely deserves notice. I sleep more than I used to, and have less energy when I am awake. I run so slow that technically I jog. Gravity is cruel to my sagging eye lids and downright sadistic to my chest. I’ve lost two inches in height and gained two shoe sizes. My ankles are elephantine. And if I stay home on a Saturday night, like tonight, I don’t even think of myself as a loser. But even adding all these things up, I consider my slowing down a harbinger of prudent maturity more than a fact of being old.
Time marches in an exorable pace of continuous diminution, but we do not comprehend it that way. We do not notice the microns of daily wrinkle growth. We don’t see any wrinkles in the mirror. Until one day there they are, fully formed, long and deep. Maturity is a graceful gesture; getting old happens in crude, giant steps.
This week I got really old. Thanks to Kate Hudson. You know Kate, the bubbly star of dozens of romance films I have never seen, as well as the amazing star of Almost Famous, which I saw and loved. Kate’s a kid, right? Lovable and goofy. And her mom, Goldie Hawn, is a kid too. Goldie was goofy in my youth, popping in and out of the joke wall on Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In when I was a teenager. But even though Goldie is not on the joke wall anymore and she won an Oscar and had a daughter and her daughter is a movie star, that doesn’t make me old.
What makes me old is that Kate Hudson has moved from being almost famous to being almost matronly. There she is on every bus stop poster in the city of Boston, all decked out in a saffron dress with tiny pleats forming a billowy, undefined bosom, her hair pulled taut behind her head, exposing sensible earrings peering into the camera for Ann Taylor. I suppose that the marketers angle was for Kate Hudson to make Ann Taylor speak to a more youthful clientele, but propping Kate into that slightly aggressive, ankles-crossed-and-tucked-behind-the-seat pose reminiscent of Wellesley College Donor Appreciation Luncheons will not make the Urban Outfitters crowd flock to Ann Taylor.
No, it is only going to make Kate Hudson look old. Wherever I pedal I cannot escape the knowing gaze of this woman who was never supposed to stop being a silly girl. The math is simple. If Kate Hudson is a mature woman now, and I grew up with her mother, that makes me old. Older than any sags or droops or shuffling jogs have ever made me feel.