07 February 2012

"Is it not strange that desire should so many years outlive performance?"

It was befuddling to see Madonna working the crowd with her trademark methods during this year's big halftime show, and not because she has clearly purchased a sort of youth. It is befuddling to think why anyone Madonna's age would still WANT to shake her skirt like that.

I turn 35 this year. It is evident that in my body I have passed my solstice and will soon begin slouching through my dog days. My pride doesn't like it, but my more reasonable side finds some comfort in the idea that there is coming a day when my flesh will have proved itself, and the heat of summer will come to an end.

When the North Wind blows through my life and carries all my birds to the warmth of their own summers, there will still be sunshine enough, God willing, for all the days of autumn. To think of fighting that wind, of gathering up my falling leaves in taut, synthetic bags, and working to confuse eyes with my brittling branches . . . No. No running, or painting, or afflicting myself for growing old. What must be, will be.

Besides, autumn is an enchanting season: she has gained so much from the sun that she more fully reflects its colors; she blesses her people with unexpected bursts of warmth; she shelters the time of harvest and prepares the soil for generations of life to come. Sing to the Lord, for autumn is at hand! There is still much, very much, to do! And not a second to waste groping after a spent spring. An honest Spring is coming, and soon, and it will appear in the sky without our doing a thing. In the meantime, dignity as we await the snow.

I think I'll go for a walk!


Dana said...

I enjoyed your thoughts on this. I am early 40's and have been contemplating coloring my hair. I'm still not sure what I'm going to do but your post gave me some things to think about.

Steve Martin said...

I do believe that women should do whatever they desire to help them with the look they desire.

But I think there does come a point in time when gracefully growing older is a good thing.

Some of the poor souls actually make themselves look scary with all these surgeries.

Kenny Rogers. Nuff said.

Pr. H. R. said...

And Steven Tyler! Dude looks like a lady!

Rebekah said...

Robert Farrar Capon: "Women are like cheese strudels. When first baked, they are crisp and fresh on the outside, but the filling is unsettled and indigestible; in age, the crust may not be so lovely, but the filling comes at last into its own. May you relish them indeed."

Wing It Mom said...

In this country we tend to romanticize and idolize our youth. We do not give the honor and respect that is due to those who grow older and wiser. The result is that we have many desperately searching for the next great thing that will give them a youthful glow and stave off the curse of aging. There is not honor in growing older and wiser and so many choose to grow older and retain the foolishness of their youth.

Cheryl said...

I had hoped she would don an evening gown and sing something from the forties (THAT would have shocked people!). Alas, it wasn't to be. I WAS impressed by her fitness. There is nothing wrong with working to stay in good health and shape as long as one can! I'll give her credit for that, if not for the stupid Roman dress. At the same time, I appreciated seeing her stumble as she tried to climb those blecahers. Maybe she knows more about aging than we might imagine.

Cheryl said...


Rhonda said...

I really appreciate your autumn comments. I am the same age as Madonna. That is all we have in common. Even if I lost 80 lbs., I would not dress like she did. I think you need to dress your age...not frumpy but not a teenager either. Being in shape is great though.

greatgaunts said...

See, there's a big difference. There is keeping yourself in good fitness for the sake of the health of your God-given frame. This reflects respect and care for that which is entrusted to us. Then there's that thing Madonna represents, supported by pride and lust. Which is just filthy.

MooreMama said...

Dude. You're going to be 35 this year? Why did I think you were 3-5 years younger than I am?

Madonna - I kind of wish that I could expect to be in that kind of shape when I'm her age, but ... I won't.

Melrose said...

I wonder if when you're 45 or 50 you'll chuckle that at 35 you thought you had "passed your solstice" ;-)

I felt horridly old when I turned 24. Now when I turned 28 I nearly cried. Since then I've gotten over it and decided I'm not old until I'm 85. And then I will be wise. win-win. :D

Anonymous said...

Ouch. That hurts. Ageism that is.

Disclaimer: Madonna and I share a birth year ('58) and chemically enhanced blond hair (although it seems unlikely that we share a source of blond hair - unless Lourdes assisted her mother with an $8.95 kit from Sally Beauty Supply). Thus ends the similarities I have with Madonna or the product known as "Madonna".

To answer your non-question question - WHY would she want to shake her skirt. Because she CAN still shake her skirt. Yes, we Autumnal gals still like to shake it when we can (although most of us probably have a slightly smaller audience, if any).

The sound of swishing and slapping you've heard this week was not a mass exodus of our autumny leaves and branches - it was every 53 year old I know high- fiving each other that ONE of us CAN still do that.

Gauntlets said...

Dear, dear Anonymouse. The trouble is that skirt shaking is so dime-a-dozen. But I'm an X-er. It's impossible to impress me.

lisa said...

HA! I can't conceive of high fiving a chick for shaking it for my husband. Unless I "missed" and hit her in the face. (I'm such a legalist about my marriage vows).

The thing about "working it" is that you end up looking like a short-circuited machine only good for one use :P or the dump.

My mom calls that "common".

Anonymous said...

And yet as I read this blog post I see the emphasis on Madonna's choice to gyrate at her advanced age - or shall I say this autumn season of her life. Had the post suggested that it is befuddling why any self respecting woman, of any age, would shake her skirt then it wouldn't be so necessary for me to get my granny panties in a knot. Such a performance is appropriate in only one place, in my estimatation, and that is behind the closed door of the marital chamber.

So why would we cohorts of Madonna cheer the physicality of her routine? Because 99% of us know that after years of birthing baby after baby, toting toddler after toddler, stoking the home fires, and for those of us who are so blest - lifting, carrying and holding our aged parents - that none of us would be able to ponder such a physical display (in public) unless it was preceded by a quick dash into Walgreens for a gyration- worthy incontinence product.

Rebekah said...

So ageist!

All's I know is, a hoary head, not a crop of dyed extensions, is a crown of glory.

lisa said...

Disclaimer: this is the most I've thought of The Material Girl in the past ummm . . . fifteen years.

Anonymous, I get the distinction. I hope my reply sounds as polite as it's meant, bc you sound like an admirable woman and you're my elder. And, you know, age means something.

I don't see why I should separate Madge's physical ability from her cougar display. Forgive me. I don't see a triumph on behalf of 53 yr olds. I see a train wreck of what navel gazing can do for me. Why is she able to do that and not you and other respectable women? Because she dedicated decades of her life to working out (applause!), tantric whatever (weird) and lots of sterile sex so that her uterus would not fall out (blech). Her display is a display of the rotten fruit the world has to offer; it appears so firm and supple, but is it? Does it taste good? What seems outwardly laudable is really an Ode To What a 53 Yr Old Can Have If Only She Chooses To Live Perpetually as a 27 Yr Old. I don't care how actively she shakes it to that; it's repulsive.

I guess you're her "cohort" age-wise, but if you've been stoking home fires and wrangling babies and loving parents growing old you have earned the very battlewounds that make it NEAR IMPOSSIBLE to climb that platform. All to your credit. I understand I can't deter your cheering and I hear *why* you cheer, but please understand, I'd rather cheer for *you*, creaking and/or leaking, any day. If you're lifting and helping aged parents, I envy *your* guns. Your guns are blessed by God.

I don't wish Madonna ill. But, I don't wish her well in her current "career" of working it either.

lisa said...

So, I couldn't leave well enough alone last night and spent my hr before bedtime reading/watching 1994 interviews of Madonna. (Why, I don't know). It had been a long time since I'd listened to her voice and I was surprised how vulnerable and young she sounded then. The two interviews that struck me were from her mid-30s (1994). In them she was asked about her past abortions. After watching and reading those interviews, one thing is all the more clear: Madonna's achievements and the maintenance of her body have come at a price too dear to fathom. When I wrote my original post, I had only encountered half the bleak story.

Gauntlets: I liked your post. I've looked forward to being a Grandma since I was about 8 yrs old. Probably bc I have a dignified (although blunt and hilarious) Nana. Looking forward to autumn strolls.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorta dignified too in manners and ways that matter, yet I'm also far enough down the road of life to realize that for me, certain things need to be taken seriously, and others need to be cast to the wind. Madonna - cast to the wind. Physical agility in any one of any age - taken seriously.

I haven't given Madonna or her life path one iota of thought before this week, and chances are great that I will not entertain a thought of her beyond this morning. She doesn't make my "Hero" short or long list.

I came to the forum here not to discuss her life choices, her youthful paramours, her color-not-seen-in-nature hair, her religion, her skirt length. Simply stated, no matter how she got up on that stage or how she descended, she has the physical agility that is rarely seen for someone of her "age".

For the record, I'm hoping to be able to still cartwheel as my Grandpa did at 80. Probably not all that dignified, but I yearn to be the Grandma that my children are still talking about decades after my death - "for a dignified Pastor's wife, Grandma could really turn a carthwheel" (in slacks, of course).

lisa said...

Anonymous, I hear you. At the breakfast table I was feeling very Madonna-weary. :P

You're right. For you it is separable, for me it's just not that neat. I'm at a stage of my life where student debt looms large. I would love financial security for myself and my kids. But, even though that's where I'm at, I wouldn't praise a loan shark for being debt free. Admirable as being debt free is. That's all - for me it's part and parcel.

We have 90yr olds at our congregation who are more lively than some 40 yr olds. I agree; it's wonderful. I hope for the same.

Gauntlets said...

Anonymouse: You're confusing me.

We've stated several times on this blog that we're not really into the whole skirt shaking thing, regardless of who's doing it. I'm not going to apologize that I find it doubly reprehensible that a mature woman who could be standing as a model of feminine excellence is instead shaking her thang like a common teenaged tart.

Is that really what you want for yourself? For the record, I hope with you that you can do cartwheels when you're 80. I never once implied that dignity means sitting very still with your hands folded. Rather, I implied that it is dignified to accept gracefully that one need not be sexually appealing all one's life to be fully a woman. That it is, in fact, OK to allow one's sex appeal to wane in favor of being simply feminine appropriate to one's age.

I trust you mean well, but your argument is falling short. You're welcome to have another go at it, if you like.

Gauntlets said...

And, if you please, why do you write the word "age" in scare quotes?

Anonymous said...

I shan't use scare tactics again - no scareyness implied. It is my marital responsibility and desire to remain sexually appealing to my spouse. That may seem impossible to fathom and it might look different at 50 ish than it did at 28 and 35. Of course one doesn't need to be sexually appealing to be fully a woman. All we need to be fully anything is Christ. You art the author of your blog and I appreciate the thought provoking discussions of your generation- it is a window into increasing my knowledge and understanding of those that I serve. Wasn't actually putting forth an argument but rather a view from my side that physical agility and sexuality can harmoniously reside in their 50's and beyond and need not wane, within the marital relationship. Never once did I purport that combining physicality and sexuality belongs anywhere other than within the confines of the marital relationship. Blatant sexual suggestiveness is inappropriate at any age; maintaining physical fitness and appeal to my husband in all regards is, from my perspective a more God pleasing way to move through my 50's and beyond. Slouching through my dog days? No thanks.

Gauntlets said...

Oh, well the slouching bit was actually a reference to a Yeats poem, and meant as a joke. It apparently wasn't very funny; sorry for the confusion.

Also, yeah, OK. Husbands are nice.