Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Leading Authority Issues Warning: Middle-Aged Women Exposed to Wit and Charm May Exhibit Foolishness

I have recently become well educated regarding brief, meaningless flirtation and the middle-aged lady brain. That's right, I am the "leading authority" referenced in the catchy headline above. As such, I assure you this post will be 100% scientific with empirical evidence based on my own highly-charged emotions.

My emotions and I became involved in a scientific research project quite by accident. It began when a cute guy started paying me some dubious compliments. Curious scientific thinker that I am, I posed a question – ‘What will happen if…?” Turned out, I got a big ol’ kick out of Cute Guy’s attention. A kick in the head, seems like. I discovered, through my own trial and error after error after error, that meaningless flirtation has powerful effects on the brain. Sure, some of the effects were actually great and had me wondering, “How can I get a lifetime supply of this?” Others had me wishing that lobotomies were still in vogue with mental health experts.

Of course, I’m not suggesting that middle-aged ladies put a permanent ban on harmless flirting from relative strangers. That wouldn’t be any fun. Just know that clever and entertaining innuendo, when left unchecked, will wreak havoc on your brain and, subsequently, your body.

In this dissertation, I will calmly and without passion, state the unbiased facts so that you, the thinking reader, may decide for yourself how to proceed should you encounter unexpected charm.

Pros or “Does This Come in Time-Release Capsules?”

Scientific Fact: You will burn more fat and crave less.

That's some hot stuff right there.
Wondering when you’re going to get that next fix of flattery will make you antsy. No need to force yourself to get up and exercise - you won’t be able to sit still with all that dopamine ricocheting through your veins. With that new spring in your step, the walk around the neighborhood that previously took you an hour to complete will suddenly take only 40 minutes. Your favorite fattening treats will be entirely unappealing. You will require only your romantic daydreams to sustain you.

Some of you might be thinking, “Sounds great! Who can I get to send me flirty, inappropriate text messages while I’m at work?” Well, I’m with you! This is what we all need to keep the unwanted pounds at bay! That’s why I’m offering a new motivational service called FlirtFit. For a low price of $30 a month - that’s just one measly dollar a day to look amazing - I’ll send you a daily text message that will make you giggle like a schoolgirl and occasionally blush. I’m going to send some to myself, too.

Scientific Fact: Money concerns will magically “disappear.”

If your bills are piling up and life is starting to depress you, the company of a man exuding boyish charm may be just the thing to take your mind off your worries. The laughs will transport you back to your high school days of hilarious boys and few responsibilities.  There, your frazzled brain will enjoy an impromptu vacation from the pressures of life. In fact, your brain may never want to return to the drudgery of adulthood.  I must caution you, however. A holiday from financial responsibility sounds great but those carefree days are gone, sister! Such feelings of nostalgia are to be indulged only in brief, bite-sized moments. Snap out of it and pay the darn bills before your water gets shut off!

Scientific Fact: You will care more about your appearance.

While engaging in witty repartee, you will want to look your best! Your typical attitude of “This is how I look, world. If you don’t like it, you can stuff it” will suddenly dissipate. Every morning, you will perform an elaborate new toilette, plucking and exfoliating and conditioning, as if you were one of Solomon’s wives anticipating a rare summons to appear before the king. Your application of lotion will become downright maniacal. And you’ll feel fabulous!

Cons or “Does My Insurance Plan Cover Shock Therapy?”
Scientific Fact: You will REEEALLY care more about your appearance.
Previously, as a mature woman who knows her worth, you were too spiritually in tune to concern yourself with signs of aging and other imperfections. However, at the indication someone is looking in your direction, some haggard old crone you’ve never laid eyes on will barge uninvited into your bathroom mirror.  You will enter a mourning period, grieving the loss of your skin’s elasticity. You will be particularly distressed at the state of your eyelids which are so creased they look like they spent the last seven months squashed at the bottom of a full laundry hamper. You might even be tempted to spend an irresponsible amount of money on some fancy lotion and you’ll have to talk yourself off that ledge by reminding yourself that you have all those wrinkles because you’ve led a very happy life and have enjoyed maybe more than your fair share of belly-laughing with friends and family.

Scientific Fact: You will become a mindless idiot.   

Just kidding. These aren't mine.
You know how you typically keep a stack of books beside your bed? And how you read a little bit from a couple of them every night, enjoying a wide variety of genres? Well, if you choose to encourage a little flirtation rather than shutting that operation right down, be prepared to completely lose your ability to decipher those strange, black symbols strewn across the pages of a novel. They will become meaningless despite your repeated attempts to trudge through the same lousy paragraph. Nothing, nothing in print will be within your realm of understanding. Even celebrity bios will suddenly be far too high-brow for you to ingest. So, you will lower your expectations, “just for now,” and open that children’s book you’ve been wanting to read only to see nothing but gibberish printed on every page.

This phenomenon may be related to the myth of multi-tasking. It may actually be impossible to read while entertaining unwholesome thoughts. Studies are inconclusive at this time.

Scientific Fact: You will become delusional.
It’s not your fault, though. It’s all because your traitorous brain is spewing dopamine unabated.  Again with the dopamine! In case you didn’t know, that stuff is the most dangerous chemical known to Man. It will lie right in your face without blinking. It will tell you that you are a kid again. It will convince you that you are as supple and springy as you were at seventeen. While you are preparing for your Storytime duties at the library, it will slyly whisper real close in your ear, “look how big and spacious this empty Storytime room is. Someone should do a cartwheel in all this glorious, wide open space! It should be YOU. You’re just as cool and fun as you ever were. Go ahead! Do it!”
And because dopamine is a sociopathic manipulator, you will fall for its load of hooey. Two months later, while working on your blog, you will still be nursing that sprained butt muscle.

PhD - Worthy Conclusion

Are all middle-aged ladies susceptible to this descent into foolishness when tempted by a brief dalliance? Heck, I don’t know. This study didn’t allow for differences in intellect, personality or past experiences. The important thing is to ask yourself, “is the risk of actin’ a fool worth the brief moments of fun?”  I conferred with my emotions and I have to confess that we all waffled back and forth on the subject.  Sure, the distraction from literary pursuits, the sheepish journal entries about how dumb we were, the literal pain in the butt after that ill-advised cartwheel were all very disconcerting at fifty-two years of age. Ultimately, however, we have decided that we deserved a brief vacation from money woes, we needed that extra slathering of lotion and, yes, we do “look good in those pants.” So, although Cute Guy and I both realized that neither one of us is what the other wants, I appreciated the fun. Additionally, I will be taking my elaborate new toilette into the future with me. Thanks, Cute Guy. I wish you all the best.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

It Was Foretold in Legend: Whether In Middle Ages or Middle Age, Encouraging Flirtation Brings Consequences

About eight years or so ago, I decided I didn’t want to date anymore. I made that choice for a few reasons. For practically a decade, I have been super happy with this decision. It has been a very pleasant and drama-free era in my life. However, there was an unfortunate side-effect to my self-imposed isolation.

Remember how Guinevere hid out in a convent because she was afraid of Mordred and too ashamed to face King Arthur? Well, if avoiding men was the lady's goal, she could just as easily have fled to an elementary school. Sequestered amongst six-year-olds and exhausted teachers, she would have pretty much been guaranteed to never see another man again. Unfortunately, after a few years of being hidden away, she would've also eventually lost the will to shave her legs, grooming herself only two or three times a year for parent/teacher conferences. As time crept on, it would have one day made sense to try cutting her own hair rather than pay good money for someone else to do it because, “hey, it ain’t like Lancelot’s gonna’ see me!”
 Medieval Groomin' (for optimum comic effect, 
                  imagine Jeff Lynne singing.)

I know that this would have happened to Guinevere because it happened to me…and I’m pretty sure she was an Aries, too.

So there I was, not giving much of a doo-doo about my appearance. Then I got a job at a library. In this new setting, I felt I should dress as if I were no longer spending half of my day sitting or kneeling on a classroom floor. And there were guys around. That was a bit of a shock to my system. Yet, a strange compulsion came over me, like the natural instinct of a cockatiel to preen its feathers – “Oh, yeah, ladies shave their legs.”

Then something completely unexpected happened. Maybe this little bit of sprucing up was an improvement or maybe my inner confidence in who I am was shining through. Or maybe my poor eyesight serves me well…’cause here’s an embarrassing fact: no matter how fat, old or worn out I get, I still see my 20-year-old self in the mirror and I walk around as if that’s exactly how I look. That’s why I’m never going to get Lasik surgery, thank you very much. 

Whatever the reason, I was shocked to find myself the subject of some male attention. Now, don’t get all excited, Reader. It was fun but after a few hilarious, potentially blog-worthy “dates”, he and I have both already moved on. The only reason that I am sharing this experience of unexpected attention is that during my bout of reckless, mid-life flirtation, I noted both benefits and drawbacks to the subsequent romantic high that affected my day-to-day behaviors. As a blogger, I felt it my duty to share these pros and cons with my more mature, single, female readers so they can carefully weigh the positive and negative consequences of shaving their legs and not suppressing their charming personality. 

If you feel you are in danger of inadvertently attracting the attentions of a shamelessly flirtatious man, meet me here at The Crooked Clothesline next Thursday. You might learn a thing or two from my pile of dirty laundry that needs a good airing.