Old Age Is No Place For Sissies*

“That’s the funniest thing I’ve heard all week,” said the 22-year-old, when she heard we were going to Eminem. My workmate—who we call The Youth—is gorgeous and smart and real and hip but 43-year-old mothers at Eminem was not that funny was it? Surely.

It was not funny when we drove past the stadium and saw a queue of short skirts and rolled up sleeves outside. We could be their mothers! The mothers needed a stiff drink.

The fading light inside the venue was as moody as the faded t-shirts. We felt conspicuous, aware of our laugh lines, but also strangely invisible. The bouncers didn’t say anything when we slunk into a fancy ticketed area we didn’t have tickets for. They must know what they’re doing, their expressions said. They’re old.

Felix, a beautiful 19-year-old boy, next to me thought it was rad we were at Eminem. “My Mum would never come to this,” he said.

Old. So rad.

I wondered whether the rap god could entertain me. Everyone said he’d lost his edge after giving up drugs. Feeling out of place I wished I was a little twisted myself. When had I gone from part of IT to watching IT?

Then the small white boy from Detroit walked onto the stage; he was tiny and strong; bad and irreverent. He grabbed his crotch way too many times but his lyrics, of which we somehow knew most of them, went right through the crowd.

Eminem on stage. All four mamas wanted to both mother and snog him.
Eminem on stage. All four mamas wanted to both mother and snog him.

He ignited us. Within minutes we had our hands in the air, our hands out in front, and our two fingers stabbing the atmosphere.

Turning to Felix, I saw his paws were up too. “I love the way you lie!” we roared.

Eminem is ridiculously cool. He probably manages to make a cup of tea looking cool but towards the end he said a very uncool thing: he admitted to struggling with drugs. And he said—like those uncomfortable moments at the end of Christian meetings—that if anyone was struggling then he wanted to share something, however, instead of saying “come on up and give your heart to Jesus,” he said three simple words. “You’re not alone.” It would have been terribly lame if it wasn’t Eminem. Then he let rip.

“I’m Not Afraid!”

All 55,000 of us went crazy. On stage, sober and raw, he had taken us to our edges.

I sliced the air and yelled those words from the very center of my soul. “I’m Not Afraid!”

We went into his concert too aware of our crinkles. We sauntered out feeling wild and young and wise all mashed up together. Fabulously fucking 43.

Eminem’s 41 and he’s not making any apologies for his age. I can’t believe I thought I was too old to go.

Years ago I went to a festival in Granada, Spain, that went from 10pm to 6am. What struck me—and my eternally-youthful friend Mary O’Leary—as we wandered around was that everyone partied together. In one tent all the twenty firsters were high on ecstasy, dancing to techno, with shirts off and glitter lip gloss on. In the tent next door were couples in their sixties flamenco dancing to piano accordions and tossing back Orujo. The tent next to that had thirty somethings supping Chianti and rocking their toddlers to sleep in strollers. Everyone was out together, in their own groups.

Nobody was saying ‘I’m too old (or young) to be here.’

If I’m ashamed of my age then I add to the shameful assumption out there that, particularly for women, getting old is a bad thing. Sure, it’s a funny thing. We can crack jokes about our pelvic floor muscles being not quite what they used to be and I’m sure parts of my body will be hilarious when I’m 82. I have the kind of ankles that will spill over my shoes (in their pantyhose) like melted marshmallows, and I’ll be able to braid my chin hairs by then I’m sure. But if I think of my grandmothers, both of them strong women, they never ever apologized for their age. It’s become acceptable this downplaying of the years. Willing wrinkles away. Wishing for eternal youth. Never seeing a lined face in advertising.

Mamas. So bad ass**.
Mamas. So bad ass.

But If I think I’m too old then I’m saying it’s OK to think that old is bad. It’s not good or bad. It’s life. We all age, thank goodness or we’d be like that freak Benjamin Button and still in diapers.

The Youth said to me recently, “Nobody cares about your age except you”. She’s wise that girl. I’m going to stop thinking about it.

The only YOUNG thing I never want to do again is wet the bed. Wearing pink, playing hide and seek, putting on dance performances, shameless truth telling, going to concerts… bring it on.

*I wish I said this but it was that brilliant woman, Bette Davis.
**Our friend, Sooz, (on the left) is not actually 43. She’s like 32 or something.
***Mel (next to Sooz) is to blame for the whole adventure. It was her idea.
****Tina (in the hat) is also to blame, she got the tickets.
Thank you bitches. It’s all your fault I had such a great time.
*****I changed the name of the blog; even though we’ve moved from the woods of California to the bush in Piha, Into The Bush just sounded all kind of wrong.


2 thoughts on “Old Age Is No Place For Sissies*

  1. Angela Barnett I freaking LOVE YOU!!!!! awe thanks for sharing the experience felt like i was there with you WILD YOUNG AND WISE.

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