(And other thoughts about age and aging in our anti-age culture)

Burt Reynolds died at 82. Not that Reynolds was my favorite icon, but even with his facelifts and hairpieces he had these great full lips, like two balloons stuck together.

I used to have full lips but they got thin. When I close my mouth they diminish into a line. Not that I think about age. I don’t. I’m 83 and I want to be a movie star. I’m age inappropriate and I’m sick of the subject. Aging doesn’t bother me. I don’t care that I have jowls, a few age spots, lines. But the lips bother me.

“What do you expect at 83?” my adult daughter says on face time.

“Angelina Jolie Pitt will always have those great lips.” I sigh.

“Stop obsessing about the lips. What about the list?”

“What list?”

“When you kick off, a list of which friends you want me to call?”

“I’m not going yet.”

“How do you know? Stop with the lips. Finish your DNR! Write your obit so I don’t miss anything!”

Just because I’m almost eighty three everyone is talking like death is my next vacation. Things happen as you age. So what? Sometimes I lose my balance — I’ll be on the left, then suddenly way on the right, wobbling. I wonder if I’ll be one of those tiny lisping ladies in their nineties, refusing help crossing the street, yelling at nasty kids? Sitting at a cage all day doing crossword puzzles? Or will I be somewhere in Paris with a genteel gentleman, a Hermes scarf looped around my jowly neck and bright red lipstick on my lips?

“Go to Seth. Get your lips done. Get filler. It’ll change your life,” advises my friend Cedar Cohen, on the phone.

“I hate the look,” I reply.

“Men love it.” she insists. She’s 74 and her fourth 94 year old husband lost his balance and fell out the window.
“Having a man isn’t everything,” I say. “Their penis shrinks and they’re still in demand. Women give them penis power. If a woman’s lips shrink men treat you like you’re a throw-away.”

“Mohammed hates my VJ. It hangs.” She sniffs. “Until I fix it he won’t have sex with me.”

“He won’t have sex with you because you turned 70.”

On TV, like junk food, I watch dumbed down, aged down women on the Housewife TV shows. Their lips are always full, like they’re blowing kisses all the time. Their red lipsticks never run like mine.

Anyway, I have this blind zoom date tonight and I want my lips to look good. This guy is the bestselling author of How To Be Happy. We decided to zoom. He’s ordering Chinese take out and I’m making frozen raviolis with sliced lemon on the side.

I deck out. I wear my usual black, high turtleneck my hair draped over my shoulders. It grew so long during the pandemic, it rolls down my back like tangled yarn.

Carefully I make up my eyes — -gray shadow, eyeliner-mascara. I place a tiny black lace hat that fits on top of my head and goes to the tip of my eyebrows. I love hats. I feel like dressing up. Since I’ve been quarantined, I haven’t worn a bra in weeks and I wear the same stained black baggy Costco pants.

Now, the lipstick. First with dark red lipliner, I extend the corners of my lips — -extending the lower lip so it looks fuller. I fill in with lighter red… glowy.. I’m ready.

At the computer, a vase of orange roses my daughter sent from Whole Foods, I click on the zoom link. A lemon drop martini-two shots of vodka, three green olivers is next to me.

“Hello Laura. “Hey you look great.”

“Betty. “

“Laura, Betty. What’s the difference,” he shrugs. “You look hot.”

We talk about the publishing business, holding our glasses for toasts. He brags that his book is an Oprah pick, and that he read my last book Love, but found it angry. “You’re angry at men.” He continues talking about his zoom speaking bookings, how national TV is after him for zoom shows, and that Tom Hanks wants to play his male protagonist.

“Uh huh. I take another sip from my martini. Okay, he’s not bad looking, but he has long thin lips. When he talks his teeth don’t show and his lips invert as if going inside. Even on Zoom I can see the spray tan and the dye on his hair and when he talks he wheezes. Buddy Rosenberg had thin lips and kissing him was like dropping inside a big hole.

I sneeze.

“Hey! Do you have the Covid?” He looks terrified.

“No. I just sneezed.”

“That’s what the last babe said. She’s dead. With due respect, I find you attractive but you older gals have all kinds of diseases — your immune systems are challenged.“

“You’re an ageist.”

“Age schmage. I googled you. You’re one of those activist types. Age March, all that jazz. Who the hell wants to march with holding your number over your head?”

“I’m not into age.”

“Psycho babble. If you plumped your lips you’d look like a doll….”

“Uh huh. Well, anyway, it’s …late. Been wonderful. Can’t wait to read your book about happiness….”

By BarbaraRoseBrooker-from her book The Corona Diaries-that she is working on.



Barbara Rose Brooker, author/teacher/poet/MFA, published 13 novels. Her latest novel, Feb 2020, Love, Sometimes, published by Post Hill Press/Simon Schuster.

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Barbara Rose Brooker

Barbara Rose Brooker, author/teacher/poet/MFA, published 13 novels. Her latest novel, Feb 2020, Love, Sometimes, published by Post Hill Press/Simon Schuster.