Tales from the Marina

I was in need of provisions and waited till dark to save on makeup.

I don't dress up for the supermarket, I would for Fortnum's or Harvey's, but not for Morrisons.

I look like a cyclist, an old one. I am very safety aware since cancer and I refuse to end up in hospital again. I look ridiculous but it's night time. Quite frankly, I don't give a damn.

So there I was by the lift with my bike in my silly headgear and green kagoul when the trio of youth exited. One had a gold stripe down her nose which I believe to be highlighter from a contour kit. She looked like she was about to have an Instagram shoot, they all did.

Once, when I was young too, you only saw that makeup on stage. Now it is de rigueur for any self-respecting child-woman, and, mark my words, the men are following suit, as well they should of course.

I thought of slime and how they would mark my soft furnishings. I wondered if they were visible in the dark.

We all politely dodged each other and they were kindly so I was grateful.

One of them said, 'Let's get  pissed!' I was secretly upset they didn't ask me to join them but then I saw myself in the mirror. There was no remnant of the teen I once was, or the twentysomething with the wind in her hair eating chocolate in a field of poppies, or the thirty-year-old with a brood of ducklings. There was nothing of the pre-me. The who I was before the 'me' I am now.

But as they passed I saw them from the rear and was thrown into a state of shock that stayed with me to the supermarket and back.

One of the girls wore a shiny latex mini skirt, you know, those ones, the ones from porn films! It was so short I may have seen her vagina, even from the back.

But she was a child, surely, hardly eighteen.

Her slender brown legs were naked, the sort I had never had and always wanted. That skirt was something I had worn in fetish clubs.

I entered the lift and tried to rid myself of the instant worry I felt over the safety of the trio. Especially mini skirt girl.

What really shocked most was how I had reacted.

I was saying things to myself that adults had said when I was young, and still do. I hated these thoughts.

In the horrendous rape culture we are sadly all part of, I thought she was dicing with extreme danger; that men would simply not be able to resist. That she would be hounded by a million hardons and would need protection from sexual predators and danger wherever she went.

Was I jealous? I did wonder all the way to Morrisons.

Getting old is hard and minute by minute everything changes. Skin falls from your bones like pulled pork and creases like old discarded tissues. It blows in the wind, literally. It can be devastating, if you let it devastate you.

I purchased the birthday cake from Morrison's for my daughter who is twenty-nine tomorrow. I thought of her in her teens and how watching her mature is such great pleasure. I no longer worry over her as I did when she was eighteen and it is a relief.

Then, as I made haste homeward on my trusty steed, I realised what it was I felt. I missed being, for want of a decent word, the 'slut' I once was.

I was so good at it. I loved sex. It excited me greatly and I was on a constant search for it. It was a drug. I enjoyed discovering the sexual human. I wanted to get into every boy's mind and ravage his sexual soul. I wanted to be surprised. I was unafraid and courageous. Sex was a colossal driving force in everything I did with everyone I met.

I may have been the 'local bike'.

And I was never ashamed. I was born sexually guilt-free, which, under the circumstances, was just as well.

But you just aren't a slut after fifty. You are free to do what you want and you do it. No one judges older women. Our children are grown and we no longer trigger the overprotection of males or the scathing judgement of society's patriarchal glare. We don't belong to anyone. We are our own people. We know our stuff.

But sadly, the surprises are all gone, there is no unexpected. We write the books and wear the tee shirts. We know what is best for us and we can predict the future with accuracy, because it all happened before and we were there.

And as for men, I know them now in all their variants, every one of them. There are no sexual bombshells. I have done them all and I did it all.

So without the element of surprise, my slut left. The power she wielded was so familiar that it became tawdry and lame. She didn't even shut the door behind her.

I miss her on occasions like today when I looked longingly at the rear of mini skirt girl.  But let the kids have all that, they deserve it.

And may they discover the error of cheap perfume that still lingers in the lift.


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