Posted by: canaryinacoalmine | April 10, 2007

on turning 30 april 12th

Lately, when someone asks my age I’ve been telling them gladly I’m almost 30.  All my life I’ve had a genetic gift which at times, is a curse.  I look like I’m 19 years old and recently was carded while getting a wine sample at Spec’s.  Thanks Mom.  I’m not embarrassed about turning 30; I’m just not used to it.  Turning 30 is a confusing time, almost like a second adolescence.  I’m not ready to let go of the carefree ways of the 20-something, yet the idea of being older, smarter and more sophisticated is a huge plus.  I suppose turning 30 was a bit like turning 20, I’m a bit too old and a bit too young for a lot of things. 

   Take dating for instance. Who the hell am I supposed to date? In terms of physical attraction, nothing gets my engines revving like a guy in his late 20’s –mid 30’s, Justin Timberlake and Ryan Reynolds aside; they can party like rock stars. This is all well and fine if your greatest responsibility is remembering to pick out your starter car and looking for the cheapest watering hole in town.   

At 30, I have a lot more to think about.  Speaking of thinking, that’s the other problem with dating.  When the bottle is empty and the bars are all closed what DO we talk about?   Golden Tee? I’m going to go with no.  If I go with dating a younger guy I am now the older lady — the cougar. If you aren’t savvy, cougar is a term used to label good-looking, “older” women who prey on the sexual desires of men in their early twenties. Don’t get me wrong; the term isn’t an insult, and I feel the power of my sexiness when I’m on the prowl. Still, I experience a bit of shock every time one of these guys reassuringly tells me that he “likes older women.” It’s not like I’m 60.

    Then there are older guys. Guys with good jobs, nice cars and a 401(k). If they’re old enough, the 401(k) is probably pretty well established, like the rest of their life.
They’ve had enough time to figure out who they are and what they want, and the successful ones have it. Unfortunately, their ego has also had time to develop and they tend to be condescending. Where I feel like the most intellectually superior creature on the planet when I’m with a 20-something, the dynamic swings drastically in the other direction with the older guy. Suddenly, I am listening to patronizing advice on how to handle the difficulties of life, and I want to vomit at their assumption that I am a lost young woman with no experience of my own to rely on. It’s insulting.

    So what about music? I’m “generationally” split there as well. I adore listening to Miles Davis and Charlie Parker cranking out fantastic jazz. It soothes my soul. I also love the respite and serenity I find in classical music — it doesn’t matter which song, it all works the same for me. On the flip side, it’s not uncommon to find me in my car bobbing my head to the bass line of the hottest newest hip-hop song. I was in my teens when hip-hop exploded onto the music scene. N.G.A. were banned in many states while Beastie Boys told me, “You have a right to paaaaartay.”  I still love it, always will. I can rap along with Tupac with the best of them. The difference is that when I do it at 30 years of age, I get odd stares. As if I am simply too lady-like and refined to be belting out, “Picture me rollin’ motherf*%#%*!”

    OK, so music and men aside, what about nightlife? There’s a challenge for ya’. The variety of settings I find myself in is amusing in its diversity. If I go to several of the local bars that I know typically attract a younger crowd the night entails a booze fest that proceeds as if prohibition is going to start at 2am. Drinks are not to be enjoyed, only consumed. Everyone in the bar looks the same. College guys are in jeans, their “nicest” shirt, and flip flops — they’ve dressed up for the night. The 20-something girls are flitting about in miniscule bits of fabric they call clothing — everything but the kitchen sink exposed. The level of intoxication is, well, intoxicating, and it isn’t long before I find myself as drunk, if not drunker, than everyone there. I figure that the first time I got drunk they were still playing with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Barbies so who gives a shit if I act more absurd than they do.

    I behave a little more respectably in bars where people my age and older congregate. Where I live, this almost always entails a lounge, an ultra-lounge to be exact. Again, if you’re not savvy, an ultra-lounge is the modern version of a lounge, but with bottle service and popular music. The unspoken dress code is considerably more polished than that of the college bar. Women actually have clothes on and there is something left to the imagination, and men are dressed appropriately for the evening — dress shirt, sport coat, you get the idea. Other than the attire, the other major difference is the level of jadedness. You can meet any number of well-to-do men in these places, but instead of looking at you with the lascivious eye of a 20-something, they look at you with caution or like a fun toy they can spoil for a number of months.  And let’s face it, being anybodies toy requires being ruled by their set of rules.  If you know me, I have never DONE rules. While the college bars are meat-markets, true, there is innocence to the hunt. They just want to have fun. This is not so in the lounge. The opposite sex has a calculated agenda and they are considering you from every angle. It’s really just too much work. And besides, everyone is there to get drunk and get laid, just like in the college bar, but now there is pretense — an effort to seem as if this is not the object of being there. It’s silly. And if I venture into a more sophisticated bar, where the patrons are in their 40s or 50s, I can find interesting people to talk to and I can affect some interest in their recent financial acquisitions or whatever. But the novelty wears off after my fourth vodka soda when I just want to lose myself in the music on the dance floor of an outrageously oversized nightclub.

    I even get confused about what the hell to wear sometimes. I may be 30 but my body can compete with 20-year-old’s (OK maybe not all of them, but I can hold my own), so I still look good in the trendy garments that younger girls wear. And I like fashion, so I am predisposed to wanting to keep up with the trends. But you have to be careful when you’re 30. You can’t look like you’re trying to hard or like you will wind up looking like Hillary Duff’s younger sidekick.  And no one wants to be the pathetic  30-yr old lady who just can’t give up the juniors department. And I do love the fine fabrics of the well made garments in high-end boutiques that cater to the polished, refined, mature woman. I like sauntering around in business suits and dress shirts. I just don’t like feeling ancient when I’m doing it, and until designers figure out that sophisticated doesn’t mean matronly, it’s going to be tough to find anything decent to wear.

    Then there’s the whole sex thing. This part really isn’t fair. Now that I’m 30, I’m well on my way to my sexual peak. I have finally figured out just what it takes for sex to be enjoyable and I’m not afraid to ask for it. I am like a well trained soldier ready to conquer the enemy. There’s just one problem. Two actually. I’ve suddenly developed the self respect I was lacking in my 20s, and I now have taste. I can no longer use mere physical attraction as motivation to sleep with someone. I have to actually like their personality and be able to envision spending quality time with them. It’s so annoying. My body wants to conquer the free world, and my mind is too stuck up to let it.

    More than any of these reason though, the hardest part about turning 30 is realizing that I haven’t accomplished everything I planned to. I’m not the ultra successful CEO of a major corporation and I don’t spend my weekends on exotic islands. I’m not happily married to the most exquisite, wealthy man on the planet. I don’t even have a date for Friday night. I’m just regular old me, taking life as it comes, one day at a time. When I was in my 20s I still felt like anything was possible — still had that youthful notion that if you could dream it, it could happen. I’m old enough now to know that life isn’t a fairytale. It’s hard work and nothing is guaranteed — not even your dreams. I accept that — I’m just not used to it.


  1. my wife and i are ten years different in our age. theres someone out there for you.

  2. I find myself loving to share my age lately. Because in less than two weeks I’ll never be able to say I’m 28 again.

    You think YOU have a dating dilemma? In Houston? Trust me, it could be much worse.

  3. I think you should just keep being you. It’s pretty fabulous and has worked for you so far.

  4. Well I suggest an older guy who still has some edge and a bit of a Peter Pan syndrome about him. Old enough to be stable but young enough to fit. Hmmm now where can we find one of those?

  5. What can I say? I feel your dating pain. The 30s aren’t so bad. I think you’re gonna like ’em. Let the journey begin.

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