In this funny, hilarious, but sometimes poignant exploration of life “just over the other side of young,” Stephanie Dolgoff begins her tale by identifying some of the characteristics of that phenomenon—like salespeople in trendy boutiques that no longer “swirl around me like bees over a puddle of orange soda…” In fact, these people no longer could be bothered. Another sign: being asked a question by a “hot” guy on the train, which normally might be a precursor to being “hit on,” but that turns out just to be a question.
Then there are the pores. Enlarged suddenly and sometimes with a hair or two growing out of them. Or experiencing certain unpleasant body changes that are followed by the realization that clothes that used to “work” no longer seem appropriate…Somewhere between “hot” and “old,” there must be appropriate “tween” garments that work, but finding them is a whole other level of tediousness.
As a working woman and mother to young twins, the author also describes the difficulties of arranging social activities amongst friends who are also parents and career people. And how other friends—those single friends not tied down by spouses or children—are no longer even part of one’s life.
Probably the part to which I could most relate was the chapter in which she describes TBMFU: “the big metabolic f…k you.” When suddenly (or so it seems) the food and activities that never added pounds before…now do. She goes on to say that she is fortunate that TBMFU is her biggest health issue, and complaining about it seems “just a wee bit Tori Spelling (who was `only’ left $800K in her rich daddy’s will)”….But, she points out, it seems grossly unfair to have to work even harder to “remain in the exact same place.”
I laughed hardest during the parts when she describes technological advances that leave her feeling less than relevant.
Just when this litany was beginning to seem just a tad bit “whiney,” since she’s “only” forty-something, she begins to describe some of the advances that come with age, like in one’s attitude, expectations, and how, for example, being a “Formally usually means that your life experience has disabused you of any romantic fantasies of being whisked away from the icky parts of life, least of all by another person, let alone on a white steed.”
Nearing the end of My Formerly Hot Life: Dispatches from Just the Other Side of Young, Dolgoff describes an encounter with a twenty-something in which the young person makes a rude comment when she doesn’t stop to sign a petition, and how she totally expressed her mind to this person. And how she felt afterwards. That “what has made me happiest and most unhappy in my life, no matter how old I am, is the degree to which I feel free to express what I think, without fear of other people’s reactions or their withdrawing their love.” Getting older, even a little bit, begins that “freeing process.”
This tale is a quick and thoughtful journey through one woman’s realizations about the transitory nature of life and “hotness,” but how freedom lives just on the other side. Because there were parts that seemed (to me) tediously superficial, although I’m sure they were supposed to be ironic, I am awarding this one four stars. Not recommended for someone a great deal older who might want to say: “just count your blessings.” Which, of course, the author ends up doing.