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Saturday, April 7, 2012

I hardly knew what to do with myself last night now that the Starz television show Spartacus is over for the season. Gorgeous blogger/designer/neighbor Stacy Lomman came over every Friday so we could drink pink Champagne while watching Romans and their slaves being killed in ingenious ways. (That guy who got his face cut off? Awesome! And here’s a piece of advice for the ladies from Spartacus creator Steven DeKnight‘s Twitter: “Unfortunately amateur c-sections by vindictively insane frenemies seldom go well.”) Stacy and I are still talking about last week’s finale, in which six major players were offed, including three strong female characters and my favorite gladiator, Oenomaus, aka Doctore.

The next season doesn’t air until 2013! How can I wait? At least I will have Peter Mensah, who played Doctore, migrating to HBO’s True Blood this summer, where he will play a vampire. Goodbye, Eric Northman! You are no longer my favorite vampire. This guy is.

Alexander Skarsgård who? Look at Peter Mensah!

And, doubling my pleasure, the spectacular eyebrows of my beloved Sam Waterston will be employed on the new Aaron Sorkin show The Newsroom, which will air right after True Blood starting June 24. The Newsroom is about a cable news network, and I used to work for CNN so …. Sam, call me to discuss your motivation!

But until all that starts, my mind is still on Spartacus. After the finale, Stacy and I couldn’t get enough so we were looking up all the actors on IMDB and Wikipedia. It turns out that Peter Mensah is a 52-year-old running around shirtless. (He would have been in his mid-30s when he played his first IMDB-listed role in a Nancy Drew television series.) This made me happy because I’ve always been a late bloomer. I know that life doesn’t end at 30 because I didn’t even start having real fun until after that, but that doesn’t stop me from being irked by all the ageist crap I read/hear. Madonna — who is just over a year older than Mensah — is always a target for critics of women who do what they feel like doing. People complain about what she’s done to her face, and that she wears skimpy stage outfits and does cartwheels during halftime at the Superbowl. Back in her 30s, Madonna predicted that everyone’s panties would be in a twist about such behavior.

I’ve seen Madonna on every tour she’s done since 1985, when I skipped my high-school prom to see her at Radio City Music Hall. (When I missed her New York shows in 2001 because MrB and I were on our honeymoon, I caught up with her in Washington, D.C., when we got back.) All I care about is that she puts on a great show — which I’ll see this year at Yankee Stadium AND Madison Square Garden. I don’t expect her to do that in a twinset and pearls, or the kind of pantsuit I used to wear at my investment-bank job. What I wrote about Lady Gaga in 2009 applies to Madonna now:

“… I noticed a lot of people asking, “Why can’t Lady Gaga just dress normally?” Is that a serious question? I’ll answer it, just in case: Because then she wouldn’t be Lady Gaga. She’d be a schmuck like us, sitting at home dribbling Cheeto dust (or, in my case, Cadbury crumbs) onto our keyboards while posting poorly spelled fashion critiques about more adventurous people who have launched themselves into superstardom.”

As for Madonna’s face? Admittedly, it’s not a look I aspire to. I’ll just have to quote what Eminem (who turns 40 this year) once said about being a white rapper: “Unless you want to fuck me, why do you care what I look like?” I don’t want to fuck Madonna, and I’m sure she doesn’t want to fuck me, so we’re both free to do whatever we want to our appearances without complaining about each other.

Not that I blame any woman for getting crazy about her looks, considering the external pressure. All the money and success in the world can’t entirely block that out. Actually, the spotlight makes it worse. This gossip blogger took a swipe at Madonna’s attempts to hide her old-looking hands with fingerless gloves — in a post pointing out the difference in texture between Nicole Kidman’s Botoxed forehead and her hands. Of Kidman, the blogger said:

“Do I have a problem with wrinkly hands? Of course not. This is not the point. The point is that I’m surprised SHE doesn’t have a problem with wrinkly hands, considering she clearly has a problem with everything above the neck not looking like it was just ironed by a glacier.”

“Do I have a problem with wrinkly hands? Of course not,” is like texting someone, “You look terrible today … J/K.” The denial doesn’t negate the hostility inherent in pointing out the supposed “problem” in the first place. It’s not just about the face-hand discrepancy. Only a few fortunate (and often very subtly tweaked) souls win the “aging gracefully” lottery, so chances are if Kidman stopped freezing her face, she’d get slammed for that too — I recently saw 50 comments fiercely condemning Jennifer Aniston’s forehead wrinkles. Damned if you have them, damned if you don’t. Personally, I wouldn’t mind working out a Dorian Gray-type of arrangement with my hands if I got to choose between them and my face. Hell, I’ve already been notified that my thumb is “old-looking and unattractive” — I might as well roll with it. (Though being told I was a “wrinkly slutwas way funnier.) The hand situation was a shock at first. I admit it. The skin thins with age and all the veins bulge out. After a lifetime of not noticing my hands, one day, after I turned 40, I looked down and thought, “Grandma, why the hell are you typing on my computer keyboard for me?” Something for you younger peeps to look forward to — and just wait till you see what happens with your elbows! Luckily they’re in back of us and we don’t have to look at our own. Out of sight, out of mind. Anyway, as far as hands go, I’m in a creative field now so along with my investment-bank suits, I’ve given up clear nail polish and unobtrusive jewelry. I’m going to take advantage of the freedom to wear in-your-face nail art and giant rings at my current age of 44 and beyond. While I’m at it, I’m also going to paint my face silver and fight 14-year-olds for standing room at concerts as long as such things amuse me.

Outfit for 2010 Lady Gaga concert. I would have been too shy to wear this in 1985.

Conventional wisdom has it that no one, on his or her deathbed, wishes more time was spent at the office. I figure I won’t be at the end thinking, “I wish I didn’t have fun that day!” When something is not fun anymore, I’ll quit it with no regrets, but not before. For instance, clubs haven’t been fun to me since the early ’90s, when AIDS finished decimating an entire generation of the fabulous, fashionable gay men who made the New York scene so great. I’m not a 20-something trying to get laid, so there’s no need for me to drink standing up in loud venues while surrounded by horribly dressed straight people.

That said, now that dubstep is happening in the clubs, maybe I’ll check it out. I do like to keep up with music. Or perhaps I’ll take up jogging. This New York Times article on record-setting 60-year-old runner Kathy Martin was quite inspirational. I definitely would like to be as toned — and happy-looking — as bodybuilder Ernestine Shepherd is in her mid-70s.

Ernestine Shepherd.

My ultimate fantasy would be doing gymnastics at 86 like recent Internet sensation Johanna Quaas.

There’s more to life than being physically fit though. Maybe I’ll write a first novel at 57, like Charlotte Rogan, whose debut book, “The Lifeboat,” is getting a lot of buzz. Why not try new things whenever the mood strikes? You Only Live Once — or “YOLO” — as rapper Drake pointed out in last year’s song “The Motto.” Now Drake and Rick Ross have a YOLO mixtape.

Click for mixtape.

If you feel like I feel — whatever your age — you need the sterling-silver YOLO ring set that I’ve added to my WENDYB by Wendy Brandes line.

$415 for the set of four sterling-silver rings. Click to purchase.

The rings are the same size as my other word/acronym rings, like the LOL set you can see on model Tina J in this photo by Shane LaVancher.

LOL rings are $320 for the set. Click to purchase.

If you’re one of the folks that likes to hashtag YOLO on Twitter, you can buy my hashtag ring separately for $115.

Sterling-silver hashtag ring. $115. Click to purchase.

You can combine it with the YOLO set, the same way gorgeous rapper Gangsta Boo recreates her signature #YEAHOE Twitter hashtag by wearing her hashtag ring with the YEA HOE rings I made her.

Gangsta Boo in my rings. From femalerappers.net. Click for source.

Don’t you love the way my statement rings make an actual statement? I’m going to try to do YOLO in brass too, so I can sell the whole set for under $100. As I’ve pointed out before, it takes a lot of money to manufacture something inexpensive, so I’ll probably have to do a Kickstarter campaign to raise the funds. Let me know in the comments if you’d be interested in that.

Meanwhile, I need to persuade Madonna to chuck her fingerless gloves and wear a set of 18K gold, blinged-out YOLO rings instead. I’ll definitely wear my silver YOLO set when I go to the Yankee Stadium concert in September. My date for that concert will be the forever young and adventurous MrB, who will have just turned 70. Now that he’s gotten his hip replaced, I’m confident that I’ll see him dancing up a storm. But can MrB carry a grown woman in his arms while declaiming Shakespeare the way 71-year-old Sam Waterston did when I saw him in King Lear last year? I’m going to wrap up this post and put him to the test right now.

UPDATED TO ADD: The Washington Post calls #YOLO “the newest acronym you’ll love to hate.” Yes!

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48 Responses to “Spartacus, Madonna, Aging Disgracefully and YOLO Rings”

  1. Mary Panjari says:

    Oh the tyranny of aging! What can be done? Fuck all as I see it but guess what? It happens to everyone unless you die young and leave a good looking corpse etc. I am way on the wrong side of 40 and yes it bothers me because I know that I am closer to 100 than 0!Also when I get wasted these days, it takes me so fucking long to recover! Now that’s really annoying!
    So whatevs, you look amazing and I am confident that you will continue to do so despite the onset of OLD AGE! Fuck that shit.

    • WendyB says:

      I was just talking about the drinking thing the other day — the good part of it is that I can get drunk INSTANTLY. It used to take me a few drinks. Now a few sips and I’m buzzed. It’s cheap and efficient! Yeah, the aging thing sucks, like seriously, I was like “the hands? WTF!” Oh, and the knees. On the other (veiny) hand, a girl I knew in high school died in a car accident at 18. She never had any lines on her face … I’d rather have the extra years and wrinkles! Look at me, always looking for the bright side.

      • Mary Panjari says:

        Lucky you because I can drink heaps before I get really drunk. For eg on thursday night I started with a vodka & soda, shared bottle of red, had 2 espresso martinis, then lost count of the number of vodka & sodas. I think it was in the vicinity of another 5 or 6. Yikes that sounds really bad. Needless to say I felt like shit yesterday.
        BTW I must check out Spartacus. Also my hands look veiny and my decolletage is fucked.

  2. stacy says:

    I LOVE THIS POST! And… YES, do Kickstarter. Besides, my anti-spam word is “buyaring” so I’m taking that as a sign from the Gods. That’s what Lucretia would think. Speaking of… I’m having some serious Spartacus w/drawl tonight. And I was thinking about this “age appropriate” bullshit the other day and it occurred to me that the world watched a 40 year old Dara Torres in a skintight bathing suit and we all thought it was great (and by “we all” I mean ME). An interesting test would be if Dara wore a tight dress with the hemline falling ABOVE the knee (gasp) — if people didn’t know she was an Olympic athlete would they be disgusted that some 40+ yr. old woman distastefully showed her knees? Bottom line — if you look good, FLAUNT it!

    Getting off my soapbox now…

  3. Sheila says:

    Gah, the hands, yes – I am so happy that I’ve been slathering my hands in sunblock (same as my face) every day since I was 17. I can see the skin getting thin but I’ve managed to hold off the spots and wrinkles.

    I second Mary; why the hell does it take so long to recover from the booze?

    • WendyB says:

      I remember being very little and sitting in my grandmother’s lap and asking about her veins — of course she told me they were like that because she’s old. Now I realize I’m closing in on the age she was then! LOL!

  4. Christine says:

    Ha! My anti-spam word is spartacus.

    Great post! Peter Mensah is my new love.

    As for aging, who cares? My mil was freaking out about turning 65 a number of years ago — my mother died just two months before her 65th birthday. I had no sympathy — I think my mother would have gladly wrinkled and sagged and fallen apart just to see her grandchildren grow up and have more time with Dad.

    And I’m going swimming with the sharks this summer. I found a friend dumb enough to go with me and we’re booked for August.

  5. sulky kitten says:

    Don’t be too sure that Madonna wouldn’t want to fuck you Wendy (saying that is like throwing one of her gauntlet/gloves down in front of her!). I can’t understand why those with wizened paws don’t just do fraxel every few months. I’ve seen it work wonders on people. Kickstart sounds like a good idea.I could do a gentle nudge!

    • WendyB says:

      Madonna does tend to like young Spanish guys but…maybe I could look like one in very dim lighting?

      I’m scared of Fraxel, it seems to get such mixed reviews! Have you tried it?

  6. Julie Marie Matos says:

    I really like and enjoyed this post! I loved the twist of ‘sense of humor’ coupled with the harsh reality of aging. It is already a constant preoccupation re the face and body looking as good as can be sans tweaking, but if I have to obsess about the hands too, then I am will feel defeated. My hands look 100 yrs old since they are constantly exposed to chemicals, wet hair and products. Retiring from the hair biz not an option, so wrinkled hands it is!! As for fashion: well, I am not giving up my John Richmond 80’s/90’s motorcycle jacket, nor my Pat Fields pleated plaid kilts!
    If they are so inappropriate, then why do so many ask me where I got them???
    Yes, we are ‘late bloomers’ and of the ‘young at heart variety’ !! XO

    • WendyB says:

      There’s a reason our vision gets worse as we age and that’s so we don’t have to look too closely at our veiny hands and other issues! It all works out!

  7. choking with laughter ..

    yolo forever along

    with gymnastics at 86 (omg), Cher and Madonna

    ageing is a surprise: things will happen that your mama didn’t tell you about

    and whoever snipped about “getting a little long in the tooth” was a nasty person, using the literal to swarm new meanings

    damn elbow skin (blistex holds it together, ha!!)

    • WendyB says:

      Blistex? REALLY? Do I need to get some?

      It’s so funny, lately I’ve even bumped into men who are shocked by the changing appearance of their hands! Just something you never think about till it happens.

  8. Love this, love you. You gave me an idea for my epitaph: “Stopped having fun.”

  9. elena daciuk says:

    what a fabulous post! i have had SO many conversations with people lately about the whole aging thing…what people should or should not wear…blah blah blah…bottom line…first and foremost…do what pleases you…not the rest of the world…second…if you’ve got the body for it…go for it even more…
    as i am turning the big 50 this year…many have sarcastically asked me how i’m handling it…are you serious? it is a fricking number…and since i have had many many friends that didn’t make it to their 20’s, some didn’t make it to their 30’s, still others never made their 40’s…and yes…some didn’t make their 50’s…i choose to count every day a blessing in this wonderful life – and live it doing the things i love…not what others deem should be important to me…

  10. Cameron says:

    I’ll throw down for the cause if you do a Kickstarter, Wendy! As for aging awesomely, Ms Piggy (my anti-spam word) would definitely know a thing or two about that! Age ain’t nuthin’ but a number, player! #YOLO!

  11. Nancy says:

    Hey lady. Thanks for your post on my site. You have an awesome blog and am adding you to my list. Getting old has its advantages and disadvantages. I’m 42 now and feel and look better than I’ve ever have. Advantages to aging: I’m more secure in my life than when I was in my 20s, I know who I am as a person. I’m happily married with my hubby living in the heart of DC and feeling young at heart, don’t have kids (not by choice) so maybe that keeps me feeling a bit younger. Disadvantages of aging: I don’t have kids and am sorry I will miss out on that. Other than that it’s all purely physical – I’m more tired, lines on my face, graying more quickly, missing dancing in nightclubs, when young ‘uns call you maam and you don’t even live in the south. I still go to concerts though. I won’t give that up. 🙂

  12. Tina M says:

    I posted a status on FB a while back stating that I was tired of all the ageist crap surrounding Madonna and all I heard was that she needed to give it up and age gracefully. Unfortunately we get these messages all the time. Sometimes, when I am out shopping, a little voice in my head says “Tina, you are 45, you can’t wear that!”. Then I have to tell my little voice to fuck off and buy it anyway.

    I may have to miss this show since I heard tix were $300. 🙁

  13. Susan Tiner says:

    Great post Wendy. Yes I’m interested in the Kickstarter campaign for the brass set. I clicked through to your link re: the spam comment on your thumb and again clicked through to your excellent Lesson of 2 Evils post. I second K-Line’s comment that you should be a history teacher. Your point about the history of Polish anti-Semitism not being available outside of Jewish museums struck me as we didn’t get a sense of history of French anti-Semitism on any of our previous trips to France until we visited the Shoah memorial in Paris on this last trip. The history is pretty shocking.

  14. I love how you ramble in this post, like it’s stream-of-consciousness, and yet it’s all so very engaging. It feels like you do have a champagne flute in your (not wrinkly at all) hands and we’re just chatting a lazy afternoon away 🙂

  15. Trendy Earrings says:

    Madonna can still put on a hell of a show and her music is better than a lot of the crap out there. Love your quote from Eminem on that one, too!

  16. Alexis Grace says:

    Honestly Wendy- you leave me feeling wildly inspired. I think this is fantastic post and hits the issue of ageism square in the jaw. I think age is insignificant as long as you are true to yourself. #YOLO 🙂

  17. Richard says:

    Nice to finally see someone create some geek-speak jewellery 😉 #YOLO!

  18. Stellar post Wendy! I was dancing to the blues at my friend’s birthday party yesterday and age had nothing to do with it. And I like the way my dark nail polish draws attention to my ‘crone’ hands. I’ve decided to flaunt them.

  19. Samar says:

    Yay for late bloomers! I feel like one myself. A friend told me this once “Delays are not denials” (don’t know it’s origins) which totally motivates me to just do whatever I want to do and not care how long it takes or how old I am. As for Madonna I’m going to see her in concert for the first time in November and am pretty excited. Sometimes I think she tries too hard and yea probably looks a bit strange but I totally agree with her on the ageist crap. People are just jealous because at her age their tits are sagging and they get winded going up a flight of stairs. Also “ugly” thumbs and elbows or not you look pretty damn good, Mr. B is a lucky man!

  20. brett says:

    excuse me while i go get a moist towelette after seeing mr. man!!!!
    always love the hash tag ring

  21. HelOnWheels says:

    Thank you for this post! Yes, the hands! And not always recognizing yourself in the mirror. But then there’s the “I don’t give a rat’s ass what anybody else thinks” attitude when it comes to living your life on your own terms and having fun. However, you, Miss Wendy B, look amazing! It must be your youthful enthusiasm. Keep it up because you’re one of those inspiring women.

    And I would totally buy those YOLO brass (or silver) ring sets!

  22. Eli says:

    Nicole Kidman just looks like she needs to wear more lotion on her hands? Posts, comments, and blogs like that are the exact reason I stopped looking at celebrity gossip blogs. I don’t want to fuck with them.

  23. Confused… I thought the veiny hands thing was due to overexertion (too much working out?) While my hands don’t look as young as they did, I don’t have veiny hands. They do get that way if I’ve been doing something physically exerting, but then it disappears a short time later. Its all too much, and once you get caught up in the game theres no turning back; only going onto the next and so on. (Its also a game you never win, boo!) A chase you’ll be stuck in while missing out on all the fun you could be having instead! Screw wrinkles and rules, I’d rather enjoy myself. It makes for a much happier me, and in turn a much happier family!

    • WendyB says:

      I’d guess Madonna’s often veiny-looking arms are from working out a lot but, for hands, it’s common for thinning skin to show veins. Actually, that can happen anywhere on the body, including, sadly for me, on the face. I’m happy for you if you’re one of the exceptions!

      • That makes sense! I have teensy tiny veins (they have to use pediatric needles to take blood, and it hurts like hell because they are so teeny) so I presume this is why they don’t show. If only I was so lucky with wrinkles…

  24. You are cracking me up! Especially when I read the Lady Gaga section, lol.
    btw, my anti-spam word is booze!!

  25. p.s. this post reminds me to stock up on sunscreen. My son plays baseball and I’m watching him every spring and summer in the blazing sun with no shade… I usually don’t use sunscreen, but I think at 40 it’s time to start liking it 😉
    btw, my anti-spam word now is 18Kgold. firs, booze, now this.. makes me think you set your own anti-spam words, LOL

  26. Marti says:

    You make me laugh everytime! As much as I love Lady Gaga attendee of monster phx 2011 Madonna will always rule in the one who broke all the rules and at least we’re younger not older than her. Go Madonna Go Lady Gaga. I say if you want Botox go get all that you want. We’ll keep working out and look better than those that don’t.

  27. Fajr says:

    YOLO rings?! I’m convinced you are a genius!

  28. SiouxsieL says:

    This is a great post. I wish I had posted mine first.