This weekend, my friend Ali and I enjoyed a girls' night out and kicked things off with matching dirty, dry Grey Goose martinis. We'd been seated at a four-top, so two seats remained empty -- a good thing, considering our conversation was sprinkled with blackmailable phrases such as, "Ever since I bought a body pillow, I've been having crazy orgasms in my sleep!" and "Sometimes when I finish peeing, I stand up to wipe, but a few extra drops come out . What's up with that?!" (We're both in women's health fields.)
About six sips in, a guy in his 30s approached our table and leaned onto one of the empty chairs. "Hello, ladies. Are these seats taken?" he asked with a charming smile. Ali and I exchanged a two-second look which, after 16 years of friendship, instantaneously relayed, "Oh, great. This guy and his wingman are trying to bust-up our girls' night and lure us home to their beds. Oh well, at least the next round will be free for us. See, youth-obsessed world -- married women can be sexy, too!"
"Yup, they're free," we answered. "It's just the two of us."
"Oh, great. Thanks!" he replied, picking one chair up and flipping it around so he could sit with the boisterous table next to us, at which about seven dolled-up girls in their 20s sat and where one of them, in a short, sleek silver minidress, proceeded to give him a lap dance while we ate our shrimp lettuce wraps.
Writer Stephanie Dolgoff would call this a major "formerly" moment, as in...Ali and I are Formerly Hot. As she explains on her blog, "I started Formerly Hot after my sudden realization that I was no longer who I'd always been-a pretty girl who navigated the world partially aided by the advantage of her looks. After 30 some odd years, Spanx had found their way into my lingerie drawer, and men who asked me if I 'had the time' really just wanted to know the time. Imagine!"
Dolgoff was on the Today Show this morning hyping her deliciously witty new book My Formerly Hot Life: Dispatches from Just the Other Side of Young (Ballantine Books, 2010). She explained that, like many women her age (early 40s), she had "crossed a line into strange, uncharted life territory, one in which I no longer felt like me. I joked to friends that I was 'formerly hot,' and clearly I struck a nerve. There are many women like me, bitchslapped into a new category of person: adult 'tweens,' not quite middle-aged, but no longer our reckless, restless, gravity-defying selves."
I thought it would be fun to ask a bunch of friends what their "formerly" is. Formerly Nerdy? Formerly Drunk? Formerly Athletic? Formerly Anxious? Formerly Married? Here are some of their responses:
"Go on a date with a guy I just met at a bus stop who seemed strangely reluctant to give me his last name? Why not! Try out the new club that doesn't open until 5:00 a.m.? Of course! Hop in a car with a friend of a friend of a friend and take an impromptu cross-country road trip? Sounds like a great idea! When I was in my early twenties, no request was too outlandish, no internal alarm bells ever rang in my ears. I flew by the seat of my pants and I couldn't be bothered to think about the consequences of my actions (yawn). Now, however, my most reckless behavior is when I bring only a single back-up diaper on trip to the grocery store. Or, perhaps when I decide to let my three-year-old skip her nap. My spontaneity is gone, and it appears to have been replaced by an uncanny sixth sense for a choking hazard within a 50 foot radius. I'm not as much fun, but you'll never need the Heimlich Maneuver when I'm around."
"I swear I used to be cool in middle school and high school... or at least kind of cool. Now? Not so much. These days I've taken up knitting and proudly proclaim my love of all things Cher, making me seem at least 30 years older than I actually am. And yet, I'm happier now because I can be me. I'm no longer the girl who lip synched at her Bat Mitzvah just so her friends would think she knew the words to all the popular songs. Nope, now I'm just completely uncool and proud of it."
Former(ly) Party Girl
"I used to stay out until 5am and now I sometimes get up (after almost seven hours of sleep) at 5am. Mostly because my bladder needs a break (so I'm pregnant, but still!) Two or three glasses of wine used to be the beginning of a night whereas now (not during pregnancy), two glasses and I'm lucky if I can make it through Top Chef before falling asleep!"
"It used to be that the favorite items in my closet were formless overalls, oversized concert T-shirts boasting 'meaningful' Grateful Dead quotes, waffled long underwear, fleece Birkenstocks and anything made of hemp. I've never actually been an inherently relaxed person: anxieties about tests or friendships or college applications or B's on report cards kept me up at night. But back then it was vitally important to maintain a facade of 'chill,' a look/vibe completed by an outward commitment to hippie music and noodle dancing. It's not that I didn't love the music -- I still prefer the Allman Brothers to Justin Beiber -- but let's just say that deep down my heart wasn't always in it. Today, my fitted clothing expose a feminine waistline and the only hemp I have is an environmentally friendly (and chic, I might add, though Gucci may not agree) tote bag. My way of dealing with stress and anxiety (talking it out with people, exercising, making proportionate life changes, etc.) is probably just a bit more, um, productive, And these days, the only time I use 'chill' is when my excitable puppy is about to pee on my leg, or when I want to cool a nice bottle of sauvignon blanc."
"I never really thought I was particularly cool in middle school or high school. I was short, skinny and I swear my voice didn't drop until I was well past my learner's permit. Looking back I am glad that I had my ugly/awkward duckling stage! Although I envied the 'cool' kids in high school, now that I'm grown up I realize that peaking in both looks and interesting-ness at age 18 will only get you so far."