Do you know what your real age is? A woman in a yoga class asked me that a few years ago and at the time I said “37!” because I had just turned 36 and wanted a year to ease into the next age so I wouldn’t be traumatized because what a drag it is getting old…and 36 was a scary age because Marilyn Monroe and Princess Diana died then and no way was I getting on that proverbial boat, The Candle in the Wind. As long as I could miss it and die at any other future age, I would be golden. Golden Brown by the Stranglers! That’s my funeral song, by the way, don’t wear it out just yet.
“No, not your chronological age, the age you are in your mind…for example, I am 39 but I think I am 21 because that is when I was my hottest,” this woman who asked the age question was pretty hot, if she was any hotter she would be fornicating her way down the street so maybe getting old in her case was a good thing.
Oh! That’s easy, I’m 12. That is how old I was when I figured out the world. Currently, as a Lady of a Certain Age, if I were to transport the mind my pre-adolescent self, age 12, into my peri-menopausal vessel, I think I would function the same way, if not better. I was a sharp 12 year old. I knew stuff. I was a keen observer of human behaviour and hid in corners and spied on conversations. I read a bookshelf full of Jacqueline Susann and Harold Robbins novels. I stayed up late and watched the pornography that would come on the community channel after midnight…only in Quebec!
In Grade 6, I turned 12 in May, I was in a class where the teacher thought it would be groovy try a new learning method where the students would complete modules and go at their own pace. It was the thing to do in the seventies. We sat in quadrants in the beginning but we could change things around…freely! Nobody hates change and freedom (I’m a bottom!) more than me so the whole scenario gave me anxiety. I was an introvert and really quiet and a head taller than everyone else. Like a like a cigar store Indian statue, I was just a grim background fixture in the classroom. But in my seating group in the beginning of the year, the new girl at the school, named Lynn, held court. She had the kind of personality that was larger than life, that everyone was drawn to and was just the catalyst I needed to break out of my shell. She was fearlessly funny and really kind to me. We wrote stories and drew pictures, sang jingles at the top our lungs; “WE ARE THE FREAKIES, WE ARE THE FREAKIES, AND THIS IS OUR FREAKIES TREE!!!” Good times.
When we got to Grade 7, we had to smarten up. It was a new high school because in Quebec it went from Grade 7 to 11 and then CEGEP. Also we were in French Immersion so we had to concentrate and sit in rows, single file. The part of the brain where you learn language is made out of a low quality gluten filler in my head so paying attention was a waste of time. I would make comics and pass them to Lynn after class. I had this continuing strip about a young woman named “June Thursday” who was making it on her own as a secretary and coping with her roommates but everything always went amok. It was crudely drawn on looseleaf and completely pornographic and politically incorrect. Lynn loved it and was my task master, demanding more each class. I think I churned out 2 or three pages a day. I didn’t know it then, at age 12 she helped me hone my imagination because let’s face it, when you are in high school, the last thing the school system wants to churn out are free thinkers.
She wrote poems, not for school, just for fun. I still have one about a lonely whale named Finnegan, a freak attraction because he is “The Last Whale” living in a fetid, polluted lake in the fictional town of Omega where tourists come and throw breadcrumbs at him. In the end he kills himself out of despair and I dare you not to cry if you read it.
When we were 12, we had unbridled creativeness and our whole lives ahead.
Flash forward to last week when my friend, Lynn Crosbie, had a book launch party at The Mascot for her latest book, Life Is About Losing Everything. Lynn writes the weekly Pop Rocks column for the Globe & Mail on Tuesday and has written several books, described as poetry and prose, including Dorothy L’Amour, Queen Rat, Pearl, Paul’s Case, and Missing Children. My daughter, who wants to be a writer when she grows up in two minutes, just finished her first year of English at University of Toronto. One of the books she studied in class was “Missing Children” and she was thrilled to tell her friends, “My mother knew her when she was 12!” She and I went and it was packed and there was love in the air. And beer!
The book, check it out here, is a memoir that jumps back and forth through time. She recounts little anecdotes, descriptions of people that are tragic and hilarious. You don’t really need to know what’s going on at all times, suspend your imagination and relax and enjoy the moment. I can’t express how good it is, I read it in one sitting on Mother’s Day. I am featured in a chapter as Silver in Did You Think We Wouldn’t Notice? I am most honoured!
Through the beast that is Facebook, Lynn and I had caught up on our lives a couple of years ago, and it was like we were 12 again. Except with booze. We even made a prank phone call. And the other day, she took me out for a birthday drink…yes, I got older but trust me, I am 12, I’m still collecting toys in cereal boxes…we talked about getting older and redefining who we are as there has been much man-baggage zapping our precious energy. Existentially, we are becoming liberated as LOCA’s who don’t give a fuck and we have the best years ahead.
We are The Freakies: