We all know about the male, mid-life clichés. A guy hits forty, or fifty, and suddenly, he needs to prove to the world that he’s still young. So he runs out and buys a sports car, or a motorcycle; he grows a ponytail; he finds himself a hot, young wife. But interestingly, women don’t seem to have their own mid-life cliché counterparts. I mean, yeah, I guess there’s the whole cougar thing, but I kind of feel like that’s something women do post-divorce to make themselves feel better, though not necessarily something they ditch their husbands and kids for in the first place. And of course, there’s plastic surgery and Botox, and the like. But again, I’m not sure that’s something women go racing off to do because they want to feel younger, as much as it’s something we do because we don’t want to look old. But what else is there? It can’t be that women don’t have mid-life crises. In fact, I know that women do, because I am a woman, and as I inch closer and closer to forty, I’m starting to freak out more and more (and more). I keep having this urge to do something – not to prove to anyone that I’m still young (I’m not) – but to commemorate my youth somehow; to remind myself that, even as my body gets older, I can still be young and vibrant and beautiful, even if it’s only on the inside.
A friend of mine recently came up with the perfect solution. When she turned forty, she took a girls’ trip with her friends from college, and came home with a tattoo. It wasn’t a spur of the moment thing – she’d been contemplating it for months (is it cool, or is it pathetic?), and had spent hours thinking about what she wanted it to look like (An abstract symbol? A single word?). She finally settled on a Chinese character that means wish/dream, and had it inked onto her lower back. She sent me a picture, and I have to say, it looks awesome. And now I can’t stop thinking about it.
I never wanted a tattoo as a teenager. I always thought they looked kind of slutty, and I didn’t want to be yet another girl with a butterfly on her ankle. Plus, I always worried about what I would think of it when I was old. Wouldn’t the fifty or sixty or seventy year-old me hate seeing it there, the ink looking so stark and silly against my crepe-y, sun-spotted, wrinkled skin?
But now that I’m closer to fifty than I am to twenty, I can’t help but think that I was so wrong. First of all, I would love to look slutty now. Or at least, to look like I was once slutty. And while I don’t know yet what word or symbol or picture I would get, the butterfly thing is not an issue anymore. I’m old now, which means that I’m also wise, and so I’d have the good sense to choose a tattoo that would really mean something to me. But finally, and most importantly, I no longer worry about what would old-me think of it. Hell, I think old-me will love it. I can just imagine old-me smiling as I catch a glimpse of it – the ink looking so stark against my crepe-y, sun-spotted, wrinkled skin – reminded of how young and vibrant and beautiful I was, back when I had my mid-life crisis.