Why Women Over 50 Know How to Kick Butt

honey.blogIf you are a woman of a certain age … let’s say 50+ … you may have noticed something. You no longer give a damn what other people think.

All that ‘model behavior’ we are taught just has to disappear at a certain point. I’m talking about those culturally-approved cues we learn as young girls in our pre-teen years.

For those of us who grew up in the 60’s, we had models like TV spy Honey West and those chic girls from The World of Henry Orient. I also had my older sisters Sarah and Lisa, who showed me how the world worked.

Sometimes being appropriate required a certain amount of lipstick (but never orange because that would make our uber-stylish mother plotz.) Sometimes it required we sit decorously and listen to the men drone on for hours.

In my case, it also required I be straight instead of gay — something I knew about myself at age 20 but managed to successfully hide, even from myself, for the next 30 years.

I counted on role models to show me the way. As a kid, I loved Honey West because she was powerful, authentic and real. (Okay, she was hot, too.) My Honey West doll even came with a tiny black plastic revolver that she could tuck into the belt on her cat suit.

Tellingly, Honey West’s creator, G.G. Fickling was a pseudonym for Mr. and Mrs. Fickling because they didn’t think the wife’s name should be on the work. Even though Mrs. Fickling’s job was to provide Honey’s ‘style sense’ – as well as everything that made her a dynamic, but believable female character. (Gloria Fickling, thank you … wherever you are.)

So here we are today, and I can safely say not one of us wears a girdle. We may have left our marriages; we may even live alone and love our lives just the way they are. Or perhaps we’ve staked out ‘our turf’ in our marriages more completely.

We get, on some level, that this is it. Our last hurrah has arrived so we’d better damn well make the best of it.

Recently I published a novel, Transformed; San Francisco,  in which the female protagonist comes to terms with her long suppressed desire to be a professional dominatrix. She’s given up her position in New York society; her marriage was tattered to shreds after her husband found our she’d been domming around with six of his friends.

And why? Because poor Electra had to sneak around in order to be who she really was. Yet,Transformed cover thumbnailTINY when she changes her name from Pamela to Electra and moves to San Francisco to finally BE that dominatrix … she stumbles.

Can Electra really have what she wants? Like … really?

It’s almost hard to believe you can have what you want when you’ve been culturally programmed to defer to others again and again. Especially if what you want is way outside of the box.

So it becomes a question of giving up on ourselves. Will we? Or won’t we?

In 2010, I, too, came to San Francisco to seize the rest of my life. I left behind my 25-year marriage, came out as a lesbian and found my way to the real deal.

Sacrifices were made, but I am now happier in love and life than I’ve ever been. Mainly because I finally get to be me. 100%. Completely.

This is our opportunity as women at mid-life. And frankly, I couldn’t think of a better age to be, wrinkles and muffin tops notwithstanding. Unlike our younger counterparts, we have had more of an uphill climb, but look what we gained in the process.

Like Honey West, we are not afraid to kick butt when we have to. So we can finally, totally be ourselves.

Thank frigging God!

PS. Please feel free to add to the conversation. Have you had your own Honey West moment?

11 Ways You Know You Are in San Francisco

  1. It is entirely possible to see people in full costume. Any day. Any time. Yes, you may see a grown man in diapers, bonnet, and pacifier ride by on his bike. Five o’clock shadow, too.
  2. Everyone’s really friendly. On the other hand, they are probably stoned. An SF cabbie set me straight on this my first month living in the city. Which could be why the whole damn city smells like weed: one hell of a lot of people in this town need medical marijuana.
  3. Every coffee bar has coders. Lots of them. They are all seriously caffeinated, staring at computer screens filled with row after row of numbers. They may be men or women. They are almost always young.
  4. People wear down jackets in July and August. I was once chastised by an elderly woman wearing a pea coat, gloves, hat and scarf on a chilly summer night. I was wearing only a light jacket. She called me ‘crazy’.
  5. Then the fog rolls in. You’re standing on an average, humdrum corner of the city. It’s night. Then suddenly everyone looks like Sam Spade, walking towards you through the fog, as the city goes all forbidding and mysterious.
  6. The subject on nearly everyone’s mind is sex. And I do mean everyone, both young and old.url Witness 1960’s topless dance icon Carol Ann Doda. Her recent death rated a front-page story in The San Francisco Chronicle. Then there’s the world’s largest leather fair – one of the few places it’s still legal to hang out completely in the nude, with or without your harness.
  7. The guy in the corner store can talk wine. You drop by the deli up the street to pick up a quick bottle of vino. Suddenly you find yourself involved in a ten-minute discourse on the relative fruitiness of two merlots, or the hint of chocolate and mesquite in an old vine zin.
  8. You become one with the homeless. They’re everywhere. I still have fond memories of The Screamer, a mentally ill man who stood outside my window and screamed loudly at the top of his lungs from time to time. We had a nodding acquaintance. I gave him cash, and he called me ‘Sister’. Even Super Bowl 50 is rife with homeless encampments – more than 100 tents have sprung up around the edges of the festivities.
  9. You begin to hate having a car. Broken car glass is called ‘San Francisco Snow’ by the SFPD. If it’s not broken into, your car will be dinged, bumped, scraped and dented. And that’s IF you can actually get a parking space. Eventually you will succumb to the Muni-Uber combo, with the occasional Zip Car rental.
  10. You, too, will become a Foodie. It’s inevitable. Hang around this food-coffee-wine-obsessed town long enough and you will start worrying about which ranch your grass-fed beef was raised on. (Was it Prather?) Relax and enjoy. You’ll gain weight and drop serious amounts of money, like $85 on a leg of lamb at the farmer’s market. But boy, will it be good!
  11. One day, you will finally chill out. You wake up one morning and realize you no longer care about all that driven, success-oriented stuff that used to be so critical. Like all those tourists riding bikes hopefully towards the Golden Gate Bridge before they have felt its gale force winds, you have become seduced. Glassy-eyed. Suddenly you have time to wait for artisan grilled cheese sandwiches and six dollar pour over coffees.And so the city has done her work. Congratulations.

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If you like Suzanne’s writing about San Francisco, check out her new book with co-author Jack Harvey. Transformed: San Francisco, a sexy, funny thriller.

“One of the highlights of Transformed is the San Francisco setting. Bursting with details, the descriptions of the city render it an important part of the plot… San Francisco becomes just as well developed as any of the characters, both layered and complex.” — Foreward Reviews