Wednesday, April 02, 2008

GUEST COLUMN: MARIANN AALDA (DIDI; EDGE OF NIGHT)

Comin’ in from “The Edge…”
MARIANN’S MIDLIFE MAYHEM & MISCELLANY:
The (Not So) Old Gray Mare!

“Oh, the old gray mare,
She ain't what she used to be
Ain't what she used to be,
Ain't what she used to be.
The old gray mare,
She ain't what she used to be
Many long years ago.”
Written by Unknown
Copyright Unknown
Okay, so my manager calls me last week and asks if I’m interested in going out on a commercial audition where the character is a bubbly, attractive mother of a 35 year old -- with an age range somewhere between 50 and 70.
As a bubbly and reasonably attractive (no false modesty, here :-) mother of a 34 year old who hasn’t been out on a commercial audition in several months, I enthusiastically responded: “Heck, yeah!”
Now, in real life, I’m a “Hate that gray? Wash it away!” kinda woman…which has, on more than one occasion, led to some embarrassment when I’ve been out in public with my prematurely-graying son.
I have often been mistaken for his wife or girlfriend. The last time, we were at a restaurant with my granddaughter, who happens to have inherited a lot of my DNA. She actually looks a lot like my son who happens to look like me. But don’t just take my word for it, here are pictures; you be the judge.

Anyway, the waitress kept looking quizzically at the three of us while she took our order…and then rolled her eyes as she walked off. After that incident, I told my son I was going to have a t-shirt made for him that says: “No, she is NOT robbing the cradle, she’s my MOTHER!”…and maybe another one for my granddaughter that says: “I’m with Nana!”
I’ve also frequently been told by folks who’ve been to see “MOIST!” the sexistential musical comedy celebration of the mature woman that I do with Iona Morris (ex-“Fiona Griffin,” As The World Turns ) – or seen my stand-up comedy act about being an aging, “front-line” baby-boomer – that, at first, they were a little stymied by some of the things I talked about on stage regarding the physical changes of getting older, because how could I have any first-hand knowledge of them when I didn’t appear to be that old?
So, I knew if I was going to have any shot at all at booking this commercial, I was going to have to bring out the HEAVY ARTILLERY -- the gray wig !
Anticipating just this sort of situation, my dear actress friend, Annie Korzen (“Doris Klompus” from Seinfeld ), another Clairol Nice ‘n Easy Color aficionado, had taken me wig shopping right before I moved to New York . “You’re going to love this place, all the female newscasters with thinning hair, and the chemo patients from Cedars-Sinai go there. The woman who owns it is a sweetheart...that’s where I got my gray wig.”
This commercial audition would be my first “outing” (double meaning, intended) of the gray wig, and it forced me to confront the considerable amount of ego I have invested in “not looking my age”…and my unwillingness to relinquish the idea of still being thought of as “a babe.”
Now, personally, I don’t happen to think this a bad thing; I made peace with my vanity a long time ago. I just want to be honest and confess that my first reaction at the thought of walking out on the street as a “sexually-neutered” gray-head was…
“Eeeeeewwwwwww!!!”
But then, a funny thing happened on my way to the audition…
First, walking through Penn Station, I got hit on by an attractive man whom I estimated to be about ten years younger than me. He gave me his card saying that he couldn’t help but notice my “beautiful silver hair” and asked me to give him a call if I ever wanted to go out to dinner!
Then… I got oogled at the audition by several of the young guys who were there to play my son-in-law!
Then… the male casting director recognized me from Edge of Night (even with the wig on!) and marveled at how “fabulous” I looked and asked for another picture and resume for his files!
HEY…WHAT’S GOIN’ ON, HERE?!
I realize it’s been heading in that direction for a while, now, but has there finally been a cultural shift? Has the “veil of shame” been lifted? Has AGE actually come out of the closet?!
And could it be possible (with a debt of gratitude to the likes of Susan Sarandon, Suzanne Sommers, Susan Lucci, Vanessa Williams, Demi Moore, Angela Bassett, the women of Desperate Housewives and Lena Horne) that THE “SEASONED” WOMAN as a cultural icon has even become (Oh, my God, could it be possible…) hip!?
Halleluiah!!!
The over-fifty woman isn’t “an old gray mare” any more…she’s a fox!…and maybe even a cougar!
Who knows? Maybe gray hair is even on its way to becoming a fetish!
So to all you single, middle-aged women who’ve been terrified of getting older and/or “going gray” because you feared that men would find you less attractive, this is what I have to say to you:
“And here's to you, Mrs. Robinson,
Jesus loves you more than you will know.
Wo-wo-wo.
God bless you, please Mrs. Robinson.
Heaven holds a place for those who pray,
Hey, hey, hey…Hey, hey, hey!”
Written by Paul Simon (Lyrics) & Art Garfunkle
Copyright 1967, from The Graduate

(To satisfy your curiosity, I had my sister take this picture of me and my newest “fashion accessory” with her cell phone :-) …I’m getting new headshots taken with it ASAP! )

Love Ya!
Mariann


1 comment:

Lynette said...

Hi Mariann,

I started watching Edge of Night about the time you started on the show. I remember you mentioning in the some of the soap opera magazines that you had a little boy at the time. And now he's 34!!!!! Time really does fly by!!!! Was that a picture of your son in "DiDi" and "Mitzi's" apartment on the show?