How Not To Tweet Old, At

Check out the latest How Not To Act Old post — on what all you’re doing wrong on Twitter — over at More magazine’s wonderful new site.  I’ll be posting an all-new, exclusive How Not To Act Old tip on every week.  Plus, More is offering its readers a special discount on the How Not To Act Old book through Barnes & Noble.

And if you haven’t seen it yet, check out the excerpt from the book in the July-August issue of More.  Love those dinosaurs!


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How Not To Act Old is now living on its own site, with all the great posts that are archived here plus lots new to come over the next weeks and months.  Plus, news and information about How Not To Act Old, The Book can be found on the new site. Come visit me there!

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#136: Take Off That Store-Boughten Underwear: A Shocking Report from the Land of the Young

Okay, I’m sorry, all you young ‘uns reading this post, but there’s no way for me to tell this story correctly except via an old person-style long and convoluted anecdote. But first, to tantalize you about what’s ahead and to keep you interested, I offer the following visual clue:

Now that I have your attention, I can tell you that I went last night to a panel discussion on women’s lives across the generations. The discussion, which was amazing, was moderated by the fabulous Sheila Weller, author of Girls Like Us and blurber of How Not To Act Old, and featured, in descending order of age, the stunning group of Patricia Bosworth, Judith Warner, Joanna Smith Rakoff, and Emily Gould.

My point, and I do have one, is that during a back-and-forth on the effect of changing technology on women’s lives, someone raised the issue of backlash and Emily Gould, the ex-Gawker editor who now blogs at Emily Magazine and who was born a few weeks before I got married for the second time, said something about steampunk.

There was a brief silence, punctuated by a few What?s from everyone over 40, after which we figured maybe she said Stephen, or steamtown, or punk rock, or something, and everyone started talking again.

And then Joanna Smith Rakoff, a novelist in her 30s whose new book is called A Fortunate Age, again used the word steampunk — we all heard it clearly this time — eliciting yet more confusion.  What was this mysterious thing called steampunk?  And why did the two younger panelists reference it so naturally while the older ones were utterly clueless?

When I finally got home and googled steampunk, immensely proud of myself for having remembered the word for an entire 38 minutes, I felt as if I were pulling back the curtain on a whole alternative culture that isn’t exactly new but that has remained largely hidden from just about everybody over 40.  Yes, not knowing about steampunk makes you, in the words of the twitter thread started by Rainn Wilson aka Dwight yesterday, #officially old.

So what the hell is steampunk?  Ah, see, that’s kind of the problem: It’s really hard to explain.  It’s a genre of science fiction and fantasy, it’s a fashion movement, it celebrates Victoriana and is anti-technology, yet it subverts elements of technology by deconstructing and reinventing them.

Would some visuals help? Here’s a steampunk laptop:


And here’s some steampunk taxidermy, by Jessica Joslin:


And here is a tutorial on how to make your own steampunk underwear from the flannel shirt your college boyfriend left in your laundry after a Kurt Cobain concert.  But before we go to the videotape, credit for the lace-up lingerie in the teaser shot goes to Clare Bare Collections — it’s not only kinky, it’s sustainable! — whose designer is featured in this video.  More pretty amazing examples of steampunk lingerie can be found at the Louise Black Designs shop on Etsy.  I would have lifted a picture but she has a very scary prohibition against that, and seems pretty terrifying all around, though her corsets are not to be missed.  (Hmmm, wonder if they come in XXL?)


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#135: Don’t Forward Emails Like This To All Your Girlfriends

Dear Tide:

I am writing to say what an excellent product you have! I’ve used it all of my married life, as my mom always told me it was the best. Now that I am in my forties I find it even better! In fact, about a month ago, I spilled some red wine on my new white blouse. My inconsiderate and uncaring husband started to belittle me about how clumsy I was, and generally started becoming a pain in the neck. One thing led to another and somehow I ended up with his blood on my new white blouse! I grabbed my bottle of Tide with bleach alternative, and to my surprise and satisfaction, all of the stains came out! In fact, the stains came out so well the detectives who came by yesterday told me that the DNA tests on my blouse were inconclusive and then my attorney called and said that I was no longer considered a suspect in the disappearance of my husband.

What a relief! Going through menopause is bad enough without being a murder suspect! I thank you, once again, for having such a great product.

Well, gotta go. I have to write a letter to the Hefty bag people.

Wait, I said, don’t……DON’T…… Aw,  you couldn’t resist, could you?


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#134: Don’t Cry For Susan Boyle

sboyle21Okay, Rolf and I barely had a chance to stretch our legs and catch our breath after a grueling winter spent kissing in the hammock writing How Not To Act Old, The Book, when we find ourselves forced back to active duty, covering the international phenomenon of Susan Boyle.

You’d think that a chimpanzee had recited Hamlet, or a statue of the Virgin Mary had climbed down from her pedestal and said Mass, so stunned is everyone that a 48-year-old woman — make that a 48-year-old not-so-attractive and not-so-thin woman — might actually have some talent. Might have, for reasons related to home and family, chosen to stay home in her village rather than hoof it to Hollywood. Might deserve our attention.

And just when the world was ready to round up all 48-year-old women and take them back behind the barn and shoot them! What are they good for, anyway? They can’t have babies anymore. They’re not sexy. At work they’re just annoying. And let’s face it, unlike Susan Boyle, most of them can’t even sing.

I, along with the divine Lisa Schwarzbaum over at EW and millions of other people, found tears springing to my eyes when listening to Susan Boyle. And then I slapped myself. Of course, she’s fabulous. Naturally, I’m pleased that her light has finally emerged and that she’s meeting with public acclaim.

But let’s not act as if she’s a freak or a miracle. When all the Susan Boyles routinely get a turn on stage and when the world expects them to be interesting and valuable rather than a joke, then I’ll cry tears of joy.


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OK, Now I Reaaaaaaaaally Have To Go Write My Book

rolfwaitingLook at poor Rolf sitting there.  Every day, he comes out of the villa, perches on the cliff, positions his fingers over the keyboard, and stares out to sea, waiting, hoping, for my yacht to pull into view.

He never goes in the pool, he never rides the jet skis….all he wants to do is get to work on How Not To Act Old, The Book.

But does it ever happen?  No.  And why not?  Because you’ve all been taking too much of my time.  A blog post here, a story in Money Magazine inspired by HNTAO  there…. ….why, this very minute, I’m overdue at a wine tasting for my friend Gail Belsky’s new book on how to shake up your life.

Never fear, Rolf.  As of right now — okay, well, right after the wine tasting — I’m going to shake it up myself.  I am casting off the daily demands of the workaday world and hurrying to our retreat far from the madding crowd  where it will be nothing but work work work in order to get the mostly-new and entirely-fabulous book version of How Not To Act Old ready to be published by Harper Collins in August.

Till then, dear readers, try not to yell into your cell phones or overindulge your email habits.  If you’re older than our new President, don’t admit it.  And if you slip up, don’t worry, Rolf and I will start blogging again next summer, and when the book comes out in August, it will solve all your acting-old problems, and much much more.


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#133: Don’t Channel Andy Rooney

First off, let me say that I think Tracey Ullmann is a genius.  She’s one of my personal heroines, plus she very much does not look or act old — and at the same time, does not seem to be trying to look or act ridiculously young.  As I said, the woman is a genius.

What’s the fabulous Tracey got to do with poor ridiculous Andy?  Everything, as you’ll see in the video below.

You may think that there’s no chance you’re anything like Andy Rooney.  You would never, after all, rant about why pencils are just as good as computers or try to make a case for the revival of the apron.

But you may inadvertently be channeling Andy if you carry on about any of the following:

  • The ridiculousness of contemporary baby names, epitomized by the child — you swear: your sister-in-law the nurse saw it with her own eyes — who was named Gonorrhea.
  • The failure of young people today to move out of their parents’ houses, get married, and assume adult responsibilities before the age of, say, 43.
  • The inflated cost of handbags.

All I can say is: Put down the pencil, Andy.  The only one who should ever channel Andy Rooney is Tracey Ullmann.  Here’s why:


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#132: LOL, Don’t Lust At The Palin Porn Video

I saw the first minute of Who’s Nailin’ Paylin this morning on the home page of The Daily Beast and I was so tickled I couldn’t resist posting a version of my very own, especially since “Sarah Palin MILF” seems to be one of the main search terms that drives people to HNTAO.  I can only imagine how disappointed they must be to find me.  Go to the Beast today too for the amazing story of the lost tapes of Madonna, another iconic over-40 woman I love to hate and vice versa.

More fodder for Palinphobics: The hilarious new photoshop book Terminatrix: The Sarah Palin Chronicles, featuring SP as Joan of Arc, Betsy Ross and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Okay, here’s XXX Sarah…..ooops, “Sara”:

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#131: Try Not To Be So Chic

My fashionista daughter in Paris forwarded me a link to Advanced Style, a blog on chic into one’s golden years, or silver years, or wizened years, or something.

Thanks for thinking of me and HNTAO, sweetie, though I’m not sure whether to be flattered or insulted by the viewpoint of this blog.  On the one hand, gee, it’s nice when someone, anyone, notices that people over 40ish exist, much less applauds them for their superior style. When that applause is public and coming from the Evil Young, it’s truly a breakthrough event.

And yet, do I detect a whiff of patronization here? A hint of: Yeah, those silver-headed wizened people, they’ve got individual style, sometimes even chic, but they’re not truly hot and cool like us.

I was disappointed not to find a single person on the blog who I aspired to dress like, though I’m always on the lookout for old people style role models.  The best one I ever found was an ancient Asian man I spotted on a beach in California, wearing a straw hat, a white shirt, black pants, and brown sandals.  Now that’s authentic and eternal chic.


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Why Are You Here?

I created this poll basically because WordPress just added this capability, and in the interest of Not Acting Old I have to immediately adopt all new technology and show off my blogging wizardry. Plus, it was really fun to try and drill down to the meaning of life, or at least the meaning of why people visit How Not To Act Old. Vote early and, well, not often, because the program won’t let you do that.

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#130: Don’t Try To Be Thin As Twiggy

At 13, I aspired have a figure like Twiggy’s — and I wasn’t far off, either. Twiggy and I were both built like, well, twigs, and keeping that thin was disgustingly effortless.

Well, things have changed, and even Twiggy isn’t immune from middle-aged spread. She limits her diet to one chocolate square at a time, she says, and “one pudding a month” or risks bloating up like every other over-40.

There goes the myth of the naturally thin person who stays that way forever. If even Twiggy porks up, what hope is there for the rest of us?

Extra non-diet tip: Don’t reference Twiggy in relation to thinness, weight loss, or modeling. Young people won’t have any idea who you’re talking about. Kate Moss, maybe. Doutzen or Agyness (born Laura) Deyn: Now you’re talking.


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#129: Do Not Attack Any Stars of High School Musical 3

I know that none of my readers are that middle-aged guy who attacked Zac Efron, star of High School Musical 3 (and also, reportedly, 1 and 2). I’m sure that you would never do anything like that, no matter how badly you might want to.

All of you know that beating up rich, famous young people is wrong, no matter how annoying they may be. Yes, even when they totally deserve it, even when they out and out provoke you, like Kenley has been doing every freaking Wednesday night on Project Runway for how many weeks now? I mean, that voice! Those hair baubles! That whine! Could you just strangle her, or what?

Whew. Calm down, Pam. Deep breathing. She doesn’t deserve to die, just because she feels so totally sorry for herself even though she’s young and thin and pretty and is going to Bryant Park instead of much more talented and deserving contestants such as Jerrell. But if she wins next week, I may not be able to keep myself from lunging at the screen.

In case you’re yearning for a masochistic fix, check out Kenley’s audition video.

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#128: Step Away From The Giant Pumpkin

This morning’s Today Show brings news of Steve Connolly (that’s NOT him, by the way, in the picture), a 53-year old Rhode Island manufacturing engineer who thinks he might have grown the world’s largest pumpkin, at 1900 pounds. Connolly calls competitive pumpkin-growing “just middle-aged guys having fun.”

Until about eight minutes ago, I didn’t know that competitive pumpkin-growing even existed. I figured I’d google “giant pumpkin,” this guy Connolly would pop up, and that would be the end of it. But now I know that the “giant pumpkin community” spans the globe, that it’s supported by dozens of sites detailing everything from giant pumpkin growing techniques to the doings of the annual convention, and that indeed most giant pumpkin enthusiasts seem to be men in their fifties.

I guess this is what happens when the kids are grown, the mortgage is paid off, and you’ve decided not to get a dog or a divorce. Everything else has been scratched off your life list, and what’s left? I guess instead of having an affair, leaving you, or getting hair plugs, I’ll just try to grow a pumpkin as big as a fucking house, honey. Don’t wait up.

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#127: Do A Web Startup…..I Mean, Don’t Do A Web Startup…..I Mean, Do A…..Oh, Never Mind. Just Go Read The Daily Beast

Forget your stock market panic, repress your Palin-phobia, and reawaken your lust for life by discovering The Daily Beast, Tina Brown’s big new web site that launched today. What’s so thrilling? Besides being a gorgeous site with an amazing array of talent behind it (hi, Henry; hi, Bonnie), the most heartening aspect of the whole thing is that Tina is just about my astral twin and she’s launching this ambitious new venture online.

Tina (yes, we’re on a first-name basis: mwah!, mwah!) tackles the age issue head-on in her Q & A:

Q: When you were born, the smallest computer was the size of a subway car. Aren’t you a little old to be doing a web startup?

A: Yeah, I’m a real dinosaur. Dinosaurs are big, though. Maybe another reason to call it The Daily Beast.

So maybe it’s acting old to do a web startup? Or maybe it’s not acting old? Or maybe it’s just doing whatever the hell you want to do, age be damned, which is as religious as you’ll ever hear me get. At any rate: Yay, Tina! Yay, Daily Beast!

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#126: Do Not Audition for the Sarah Palin Porn Film

You think I made this up? I WISH I were that creative. No, according to 23/6, porn filmmakers actually put out a casting call for Sarah Palin lookalikes, so the film may be coming to a dirty website near you by Election Day.

I suppose I should find it cheering that the porn industry wants to make a film about a woman over 40, kind of like I know it’s supposed to be a compliment when someone calls you a MILF, which absolutely DID HAPPEN to me, and not all that long ago either. I also would enjoy watching Palin, whom I find terrifying and loathsome, get screwed, though the ad did specify “no anal.”

However, my duty here is to tell you how not to act old, and this cattle call is sure to summon every actress who’s been around since the heyday of Linda Lovelace. You can’t fall into that trap, not even if you’ve already got your updo, your square glasses, and your lipliner tattoo. And guys, when they advertise for the John McCain, Joe Biden, George Bush, and Dick Cheney (not to mention Barack Obama) lookalike roles, I don’t want to catch you on that casting couch either.

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#125: Fall Is So NOT Your Favorite Season

Favorite season of the old: Fall. Why? Because the colors are so lovely, and you get to wear clothes that cover your body again, and you’re forced to stay in the house and eat beef stew and apple pie and drink sidecars.

Sounds pretty good to me, but not to the young. For young people, fall means a return to school (blech), even for years after they graduate. No more bikinis, no more sex on the beach, goodbye to the summer share. Second and third place go to spring, as in fever, and winter, for the snowboarding and the nice Christmas check from mom and dad.

So that leaves the old with fall all to themselves.

Other favorites of the old you may want to rethink:

Favorite Color: Greyish-green.

Favorite Holiday: Thanksgiving.

Favorite Day of the Week: Thursday. Or maybe Sunday.

Favorite Skirt Style: Pleated.

Favorite Weather: Cool and rainy.

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#124: Gotta Love Those Entourage Boys

I was walking down the street the other day — yes, right here in New Jersey — and there coming toward me were Vince, Turtle, Drama, Ari, and E. I tried waving to them, then leaping in front of them, and finally, in an attempt to get their attention, whipped off my turtleneck, sweatpants, and underwear and stood in their path wearing only my Garnet Hill polka dotted kneesocks and Blundstone ankle boots. Finally, they glanced my way.

“She’s yours, Turtle,” said Vince.

“No, no,” I said. “I just want to ask you a question.”

“Questions start at $20 million,” snapped Ari.

“C’mon, Ari,” said Vince, rousing himself to blink. “She’s just a fan.”

“Oh, Jeez,” said Drama, “she can’t be a fan. If she’s really a fan, we’re over, over! Look at her, she’s older than Tina Fey!”

“Oh, yeah?,” said Turtle. “I bet she’s not too old to suck my cock. How about it, granny?”

“Please, I wouldn’t suck your little finger if it had chocolate frosting all over it and I’d been on a sugar fast for a month,” I said, hoping he wouldn’t guess it took me a whole 24 hours to come up with that line. “And I’m not a fan: I only watch you in a desperate attempt to bond with my husband and teenage son. But what I want to know is why they love you so much.”

“They love us because they wish they were us,” said E. “We’re proof that everything you’ve ever told them is wrong is actually right: You can be your most immature, lazy, stupid, unredeemed self, and you’ll get rich and famous for it. Oh, and you’ll get lots and lots of great sex with babes who are young and gorgeous and never make you put your Coke can in the recycling.”

“So do you horrify and repulse me because I’m female? Or because I’m old and out of it?”

“That’s two questions,” said Ari, yelling at me through his cell phone, even though I was standing right next to him and didn’t actually have a phone of my own. “$40 million!”

The other guys looked at each other and shrugged. “All the other women love us,” they said. “Must be the old thing.”

“But I would have hated you even when I was young,” I said.

Too late though: A Ferrari pulled up carrying some rappers, some pole dancers, and a couple of pit bulls, and the guys were off. But before they pulled away, Vince looked back at me over his shoulder and called, “See you next Sunday night?”

I sighed. “Sure.”


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#123: Stop Surfing The Net

If you still say you’re “surfing” the “net,” you’ve got to stop right now. I said RIGHT NOW! That phrase is just so 2003, or maybe 1998 — I don’t know, all those years pretty much run together.

Don’t spend any time in “chat rooms,” either. Or use the word “cyberspace,” except ironically.

In fact, if you want to get all modern about it, what you should do instead of surf is Twitter. I signed up for Twitter, allegedly, and I’ve gotten reports that a couple of people are “following” me, an activity whose dullness might only be matched by actually being me. What are you doing now? I’m typing. What are you doing now? I’m typing. What are you doing now? I’m still fucking typing, goddammit!

The real point, though, is that web words have moved on. For a primer of a hundred of the newest, watch this educational video.

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#122: Throw Off the Middle-Aged Burka

When exactly did the imams sweep through my town in suburban New Jersey and decree that every woman over the age of 40 had to chop off her hair, wash off her makeup, and start dressing in baggy black or beige linen or flannel, buttoned up to the neck, hanging down to the ground, and I’ll have you wear flat, rubber-soled shoes with that, missy.

The middle-aged suburban woman-shrouding style is so ingrained that anyone wearing something bright or tight or low-cut (usually that’s me) is viewed with suspicion. What’s she up to? Who does she think she is? Where is she going? And why is she flaunting it like that?

I say break out the hair dye, invest in some really expensive undergarments, make your daughters take you shopping for once. If your husbands feel threatened, if your friends think you’re a traitor to the sisterhood, if the other moms question your fitness, just let ’em. As long as you’re still walking this earth, you might as well do it in shoes that click.

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We Got A Book Deal, Baby!

So here finally is the big surprise I promised you back in August: How Not To Act Old is going to be a book! Extremely exciting, especially for me. With my big truckload of money, I’ve already hired an editorial assistant, Rolf, and outfitted him with an appropriate tee shirt: That’s him on the left. And I’ll have you know, he typed in those page numbers all by himself — he got all the way up to 200 before he had to ask for help!

The publisher is the classy and fabulous Collins, the book will be out in August here and in the U.K., and the official title is How Not to Act Old: 157 Ways To Be Phat, Sick, Dope, Hot, Awesome, or At Least Not Totally Lame. Or something like that.

I did consider some other title ideas. My friend Dottie Frank suggested The Devil Wears Bifocals. Fran Liscio contributed Do They Have Facebook in Hell? and I Scored Some Eileen Fisher Caftans, and That Shit Was Bangin’. Rolf made a forceful case for I May Be Old but I Am One Amazingly Hot American Bitch.

But in the end, we decided to stick with the original. Along with keeping up the blog I’ll be writing lots of completely fresh material for the book. As many of you know, writing is very hard work. Here’s a fast-paced live-action video produced by the novelist Roger (R.N.) Morris, which pretty much tells it like it is for me, though instead of a cat draped over my shoulder, I’ve got Rolf.

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