My grandmother always said (and still does) 'A lady NEVER reveals her age'. She was so adamant about it, that she even went as far as refusing to fill in the date of birth details on official forms...This has caused upteen amounts of difficulites over the years, as you can imagine, but she has never waivered from her path. Erupting at me if I dared to divulge her age to anyone (doctors included) was an everyday occurance and I could never, ever understand why it was so important to her. Now I am in my 40's and have been for quite a few years, AND getting divorced, I am trying to finally understand.
There is one major difference between my grandmother and I. She was married for just shy of 60 years with no thoughts of divorce and therefore was not in the terrifying position of having to attract any future potential suitors. Whereas I am now facing my nearly fifties exactly in that horrendous place!
I have asked her many times over the years just why she was so secretive about how old she was. Being a 'lady' was always the solid answer. But now she is coming up to her 97th birthday (OMG! I said it...) she finally half explained that it was so people did not think that she was over the hill and therefore a sandwich short of a picnic and therefore not at risk of being taken advantage of. She is not so secretive now. In fact she is very proud of her age and sadly, there is little hiding it.
That wasn't always the case. She has always looked many years younger than her actual age (she says is it due to inheriting me when I was 5 and that being an older mother kept her young - I would have thought it would have been the other way round!) Granny was WILD...Granny was the first person leaping onto a dance floor and the last person getting off it. She was the Grandmother that was expelled from a highly prestigious ski resort for bad behaviour and the Grandmother who tapped me on my shoulder when I was having a snoggy slow dance aged 16 with a boy on the dancefloor at a party and told me (in front of him) that if I was going to kiss in public, I better learn how to do it properly...aaargh!
We had a lovely lady called Mrs Schofield who came and cleaned the silver once a month and I remember her sitting at the kitchen table, polishing away whilst Granny ran around collecting silver that was dirty, making marmalade and sterillising the jam jars all at the same time. Mrs Schofield was complaining about her 'old bones' and how she was doing so well for her age and how really she should be doing much less, prompting Granny to ask her how old she was. '63' came the answer at which Granny and I burst into laughter and a very confused Mrs Schofield asked what had caused the hilarity. My Grandmother said, whilst hopping on a chair to reach the top shelf in a cupboard, 'I am 78'.
So, my grandmother, who still skied in her late 80's, partied with the best of them and who still hates not being invited to a shin-dig, hid her age. I do understand why she did in her later years. As far as when she was younger, I still don't really know. Maybe it is because she was always so elegant. Maybe she thought that if people knew her real age, she would not be invited to parties or included for events because they thought she would be too old for them. Maybe she thought she would be left out, judged and thought less of.
I do not know and I cannot really say. My grandmother, although incredible for her age, is having trouble with her memories. She definately does not have dementia, but the sharp witt that she was is fading and I will probably never know beyond what I can deduce.
I can look at it from my point of view though. If I was still married, I would not be in the slightest bit bothered about my age. I was four years younger than my STBE and most of my 'home' friends are a few years older than me and If I was being really honest, I always enjoyed being the youngest of the crowd. I loved being a young mother and as my nature is spontaneous, too impulsive, too trusting and alot of the time irresponsible, being the youngest suited me fine.
BUT...I am only the youngest of my group of 'home' friends. My friends in my year at boarding school were all mostly younger than me. Although I act it, I am not young anymore, even though I want to be, and in the New World of dating, I am not young AT ALL!!!
So. Age. Is it important? Is it just a number? Can one lie about it and be forgiven? Is it important if future children are not wanted? Are men in their 40's and 50's only attracted to much younger women? Am I looking at a future of OAP's or a male version of Mrs Schofield who thinks he should be on his death bed at 63??? Can one pretend to be younger and then once the man has been met and been attracted, confess to actually being 5 years older???
Or, and this is a winner, do I just repeat my legend of a Grandmothers' words...'A lady NEVER reveals her age...'