OK, nine. Possibly seven.
Whatever. It is a major age difference. It is the span of Jay-Z to Beyonce. It is one-and-a-half Suri Cruises. It is more than the time I was married. It is a lot.
[This photo was taken specifically to text to Mommyfriend, pre-haircut, who asked what a good hair day for elderly folk look like. No no no, of course not. She just wanted to know how jungle-wild I let my bangs get before I have someone tell me I am pretty and then let them take a machete to them.]
At least it is when the calendar officially reads that this is the year that you (which means me) will turn 40.
For.Ty. I know! I can barely believe it myself. Although my young son is doing all he can to make it as real as possible. I mentioned the name of a friend the other day and he casually asked how old that person is.
"Oh, she is my age," I said back, not even noticing the barbed wire and hanging net and claw-tooth rusty metal contraption I was walking into.
"So she's 40?" He said it smoothly but quickly, with a smirk resting confidently at the left side of his mouth.
Sneaky little one-digiter! His day will come! That's what I thought vengefully about my offspring in the moment. And in the next moment realized that when he does get his 40-decade comeuppance, I will be 72.
Seven.Ty.Two. That made 40 seem very spring-chickeny. Maybe even chick-like. For a second anyway.
I distinctly remember the year my own mother turned 40. I thought she was ancient. Of course, I was 15 and had a hundred-thousand opinions about who and what my mother was. Now when I see pictures of her from that birthday, I'm taken aback by her gorgeous, glowing skin and thick, curly blond-streaked hair cropped around her face.
I also remember when her best friend turned 40 a few years later. I was astonished that they could overcome the chasm that is three or four years age difference to be close and I wondered if it depressed my mom that she was so much older than 40 by the time her friend reached that pinnacle. All those feelings are framed by a little song my mom made up for her friend, who she often wrote parodies with for teacher work functions and parties and on random Thursday nights, and the theme of the whole event, which was, "Lordy, Lordy, Linda's 40."
In the years since, my brother and I have sung that little line nearly every time my mom has mentioned Linda in front of us. We've texted it to each other and telepathically communicated that bit of our childhood across brainwaves and restaurants at the very hint of this friend or those times.
Now, of course, he's turned the phrase on me. All I can hear in my head when my own kid tortures me about my age is, "Lordy, Lordy, Jessie's 40." It doesn't seem right.
Or, it didn't until I went a newish hairdresser over the weekend. She's a lovely woman who cannotpossiblybebutprobablyis almost 50. She's a single mama who has built up a beautiful salon in the heart of the city, who has gorgeous red curls that fall down her back and a slight figure wrapped in pretty metallic tops and huggy little sweaters. I think she is fabulous. She's also very understanding that I'd need a stand-in stylist while I wait out the three months it took me to book an appointment with my regular hair maven and has taken me on as a winter client.
On my first visit, she asked me all about my situation with Lil E's dad, nodded compassionately, offered kind words of advice. She told me all about her boyfriend who lives in Alaska part-time and teenage daughter who is full of angst while she matched up shades of hair dye and trimmed my bangs.
"Are you 30?!," she blurted out this time as I sat in her chair. She was combing through my hair, trying to decide what exact shade my roots should be colored. "Or 32 -- tops, right?"
I stared back at her, waiting for the punchline.
She looked at me in the mirror with a kind look that really said, "WELL?!"
"You're 30 years old then?" She reiterated it.
"You're kidding, right?" I said at our reflection.
"NO! You are not older than 32." She was serious. I couldn't believe it. She was really serious.
I told her my age. She dropped her comb. I'm not kidding! The nice lady who examines heads for a living, the one with the scissors in hand, was stunned. She repeated "no way" at least seven times (OK, three).
And then she started to giggle a muffled little knowing laugh.
"I was going to say..." she paused here to prep me, "that for 30 years old, you sure do have a lot of silver hair."
I will pause here for you to process. Because that's when my radiant, youthful beauty went completely down the drain with the apparent bucket-loads of chemicals it takes to make me appear somewhat presentable to people in my age-bracket.
SILVER. She said silver, friends.
I am a 39-year-old woman with silver hair. And before you feed me any of this bullshit about how fabulous women with silver hair look, let me say once again that I AM ONLY 39. My grandmother was one of those ladies with beautiful silver hair. BUT SHE WAS 103. I am 0.37th that age.
I knew that under all this I was gray. I found my first gray hair when I was 26. I see the roots that look like cloud formations around my forehead. I am aware of why my mother got blond streaks well before she was 40 herself. Gray, I get. Gray, I can live with. Gray, I can cover. But silver? Oh, goodness, silver.
That amazing compliment about my agelessness was shot to hell by one single silver bullet, right there in the salon. I should have just slumped over in the chair and met my maker with the plastic poncho billoowing around me.
I still have a few months to come to terms with it all. Until then, my child's mouth is taped shut and the word "Lordy" is banned for a 30-foot perimeter around me. For these last precious days, I will just have to be a 39-year-old lady, who is a decade younger on the outside and 64 years older at the roots.