Sunday, October 14, 2007

a character

I have recently started a new job – I am now the Dive Instructor for a posh resort at the classy end of the beach. Staying at the resort at the moment is a woman whom I want to tell you about. I don’t know her name but I feel I should give her some title, because she is an Amazon! I think she might be Dutch or German – her English is excellent, but there is a trace of an accent. She is tall, slim and muscular with long legs, high cheekbones and piercing blue eyes. Her fair hair is cropped quite short into a sharp, 30’s style bob. She spends most of the day on the beach – she likes to sunbathe (on the sand, without a towel) in a tiny, lilac string bikini and matching swimming cap. She also swims often and is obviously very fit. She is very polite to everyone and, by the way the waiters fuss around her, I’m guessing she is a good tipper, but she is quite imperious in her manner. It is clear, from her bearing and her attitude, that she expects attention and that she was once very beautiful.

She is old – I would guess in her 70’s, possibly even 80’s. Her skin is wrinkled and sags over her muscles; she has many age spots and dark, thick-looking skin that has seen far too much sun. Next to our dive shop is a little hut where the towels are kept and where the waiters often sit for a break. This morning she came over to get a towel and stopped to fix her swimming cap. Two waiters on their break started chatting and giggling in Tagalog, I guessed it might be about her. After a moment or two, she gave them a sharp look and then thanked them for the towel, very politely, in Tagalog. Both waiters looked horrified and blushed bright pink, as she strolled away, head held very high.

I can’t help but wonder: am I looking at a distant echo of what I will become? I am 35, but dress the same as I did at 20 and I’m in better shape than I was then. I am starting the feel my body begin to age, but so far have opted to ignore it – safe in the knowledge that I am fit and toned and so can still stroll around in my bikini without shame! At what point, if ever, should a woman start to age gracefully?

I like her. I respect her for swanning around in her lilac string bikini! But I see other people staring at her in surprise. The young men look disapproving of her decision to expose so much wrinkled flesh. I see the looks of scorn from the plump, middle-aged matrons that lounge on the sun beds, while their young nanny’s run on the beach with the children. I do hope that behind their scorn is just a tiny bit of jealousy.


Anonymous said...

Is wearing a bikini not aging gracefully? Good for her for enjoying the sun and her own body. Probably wouldn't have been my attitude years ago but I'm getting old and hideous and consequently not caring as much what people think. And great blog!

Anonymous said...

Is that Gordon Brown welcoming Angela Merkel to the Lisbon Conference?