August 8, 2013

The elusive, mysterious 'Woman of a Certain Age'

Let me begin by congratulating two fellow Intrigue authors who launched novels this week. DB Corey's thrilling Chain of Evidence and CA Verstraete's wonderful zombie novel Girl Z are taking off with a bang. Go to and to see what all the excitement's about. Both books are available at
I am a woman of a 'certain age'. Just what age range this encompasses I am not entirely sure. It's a phrase women like to use instead of uttering an actual number. And I think it's a nice idea. But let's face it, I do believe it's just a nice way of saying pretty old, but not old enough to be elderly.
Age is a funny thing, isn't it? Ask a teenager how old she is and "I'll be sixteen in two months and then I can drive!" is shouted with glee.
A few years later the same post-teen might utter, "I'm 21. I'm legal!".
Twenty-five is certainly acceptable. Right up to about thirty-two seems to be fine. Then we start hedging. "Why do you ask?" "How old do I look?" (Never a safe question as many have found out the hard way.) A few years later we move into "In my thirties," and "Old enough to know better." Sometimes we simply give the silent 'how-dare-you-ask' stare which we've been perfecting for just this moment. And so it goes until we become 'women of a certain age'.
So when does a certain age start? I suppose it's when we've stretched middle-age just about as far as we possibly can. Because as much as I hate to say it, 60 is not middle-aged. It may be the new 40, but I'm just about positive that 120 will not be the new 80.
Why am I pondering this arcane question for the ages? I have a birthday coming up shortly and being a woman of a certain age I want to make sure that I still am - a certain age. Of course, if you think about it, who isn't? Everyone is a certain age. Unless of course you have no idea when you were born.
Which brings me to a funny little story about my amusing little family. If you haven't caught on by now my family can be a little eccentric. Case in point. Until I was sixteen and I applied for my learner's permit I thought my birthday was August 15th. It isn't.
My older sister, Mary, and I had always shared a birthday. I was told stories about Mom having to leave Mary's party to go to the hospital to have me. So at sixteen when I excitedly filled out the application for my learner's permit, I wrote down August 15th under date of birth. I also sent a copy of my birth certificate with the form.
About a week later I eagerly opened my envelope from the DMV only to find my application and birth certificate returned with a note saying that there was a discrepancy in the birth dates.
This is when I found out that I was actually born on August 16th. For over sixteen years, no one, not my parents or three older siblings, ever mentioned that Mary and I did not really share a birthday. My Dad, a wonderful, but thoroughly goofy man, explained it by saying that if I had been born on a train, my birthday would be the 15th because trains ran on Standard Time, not Daylight Savings Time and I was born shortly after midnight DST which would have been shortly after 11:00 pm EST on a train. I was not born on a train. I was not born on August 15th. But I was born, I am having a birthday, and I will still be 'a woman of a certain age'. 
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  1. I believe you are authorized to use this title until you become a woman of an UNcertain age, meaning that when asked how old you are you have to think a minute because you're not quite sure.

  2. Anonymous8/08/2013

    Or -- when people begin to patronizingly use the phrase "XX years YOUNG!" just before you trip them with your cane.

  3. Penny if you are a woman of a certain age...than my son would be of an undetermined age.

    He thinks 24 is old! Darn kids

  4. "120 is not the new 80". Now THAT's funny!
    I see you're getting the hang of this.
    Nice job.

    And thank you for the plug.