Marcy Barack Black

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Farewell to Babedom                         ThirdAge Perspectives

An essay by Marcy Barack

There I was at the Washington airport, garment bag slung over my shoulder, lugging a suitcase with a CPU inside, chasing my heavy sample case around the baggage carousel. Where's a sailor when you need one?

Time was when I didn't have to haul heavy luggage, change tires or buy my own drinks. Some young gallant was always sniffing around my thigh-high skirts and waist-length hair, looking to lend a hand.

"Hey, slim," called the old gents, offering to share a bottle on the stoop as I strode by. Wolf whistles rained down from the construction crews working the high-rises above.

Eugene McCarthy once spoke to a living room full of supporters, while keeping one eye on my carefully crossed legs. So what happened? About 30 years. Somewhere along the way, I lost my babe designation.

An Attitude, Not an Age

Any young woman fresh out of girlhood qualifies as a babe. Beauty does not signify. There is a power that she wields over those members of the human race carrying a Y chromosome. Like any power, it can be used or abused.

For some women, this golden window of opportunity is fleeting. Other gifted gals retain their babedom for years. Helen Gurley Brown cultivated her "Cosmo girl" persona well into her 60s.

As one colleague said, "I'm the same person as before, only everything's dropped about three inches." I can't pinpoint a moment, but as the decades passed, men's glances strayed to dewier skin.

The flush of youth turned to hot flashes. Now, when I flirt with a waiter, and he flirts back, I leave him a big tip and my kids squirm with embarrassment. Still, I've discovered that there are benefits to being an ex-babe.

Getting Older, Getting Better

Now that I'm an ex-babe, people see me as a person more than a skirt. Most of those obliging young -- and older -- men who used to pursue the packaging frequently shied away from the substance.

I don't have to ratchet back my IQ to attract some sweaty studmuffin with tantalizing pheromones. Thankfully, those out of control fires now burn steadily for the guy across the breakfast table.

While aging is liberating to many of the female persuasion, the freedom cuts both ways. Ex-babes see men in a new light. We no longer rate guys by the lust in their eyes.

Adult Advantages

Gender barriers collapse as adult women and men relate on a common level of humanity. With the bulk of the child rearing and career building done, it's easier to forge an independent identity.

Being a babe wasn't easy. It involved endless grooming rituals, drafty clothing and dehumanizing image maintenance at the expense of sincere character development.

So I spent the coin to rent a baggage cart and piled it high with my luggage. I rolled out of the terminal and hailed a cab at the curb. And I didn't have to flash a bit of leg to get the driver to pull over.