Have you noticed that all old ladies the world over look alike? And that old ladies have ALWAYS looked alike? Since I was a child myself, I have noted the following old lady attributes: white hair, wrinkles, shuffling gate, sensible shoes, and big purses. Old ladies lack any kind of personal style. Comfort and safety seem to be of utmost importance. Old ladies are NOT concerned with how they look to the world. All of this is fine, but as I get nearer to being an old lady myself, I wonder how the transformation from normal stylish and young person to old lady takes place. Is it overnight? Does one suddenly wake up one morning with the need to wear knee high panty hose under a skirt? When do handkerchiefs trump Kleenex?

As a service to all of my girlfriends, who are approaching old ladydom with me, here is a list of warning signs THAT YOU MUST READ AND TAKE TO HEART. These could slow down the inexorable slide into the world of the elderly.

Do you have a cold? Is the approaching allergy season a challenge for you? Is Kleenex your best friend during these times? I know it may be convenient for you, BUT DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES TUCK ONE INTO YOUR SLEEVE IF YOU DON’T HAVE A POCKET TO STASH IT IN. Old ladies do that. Even if it means you have to run to the nearest rest room to sneeze, or surreptitiously wipe your nose on your sleeve, DON’T STUFF THAT KLEENEX IN THAT SLEEVE! This is one giant step toward old ladydom, believe me!

How big is your purse? Does it have compartments? This is a danger sign. How long does it take you to find your keys? If you can’t locate your keys in your bag within ten seconds, you are acting like an old lady! If those compartments are used like a filing cabinet (one for coupons, one for your wallet, one for lipstick and things, another for your glasses) you are REALLY pushing it. Do you hang your purse over your forearm? STOP THAT IMMEDIATELY!

This is a huge one. It is a true indicator of age. DO YOU HAVE A CHANGE PURSE? Get rid of it! Your change belongs in your wallet. No one needs a separate small accessory for dimes and pennies. If you are starting to think that it would be easier to find coins by segregating them into a small conveyance of their own, you are old.

What do you wear to the movies during the summer? Do you think that lately the theatres have turned down their thermostats? Are you tempted to take a sweater or coat with you when you go? You mustn’t. No one over the age of thirty gets cold at the movies, so just sit there and shiver through it with the YOUNG people like you.

If you go to a restaurant, EAT YOUR DINNER. If there is a little left over, don’t ask for a box. I know, the economy. But it is old people who can’t seem to consume an entire hamburger or finish their beans. If you take that food home, on the way out of the restaurant, all the kids will be watching you and chuckling patronizingly to each other.

This next category is so huge, I am not sure I can do it justice. Clothes. Here goes: young people read magazines and watch TV in order to see what the fashionistas are wearing. Old ladies think “fashionistas” have something to do with Italy during World War II. Old ladies dress for comfort, not style. This can begin very insidiously, so you have to be very careful about this. Are you looking at those espadrilles and remembering how you fell off them and sprained your ankle? Are you thinking that those Keds look a lot more comfortable? Oh, boy. Do you look at your legs and all of those purply little veins and decide that shorts are not becoming? This is actually a smart move, because shorts do look awful with spider veins. Capri pants are fine. Slacks are fine. Elastic waistbands, however, are NOT fine. Nine out of ten doctors agree that old women wear elastic waistbands.

If you are tempted to buy a track suit that matches, this could be a warning sign. True, lots of young and fit women wear workout gear. To work out in. These women don’t wear their gym clothes to the Cheesecake Factory. What’s more, young women don’t care if their running pants have a matching hoodie. Nor do they spend hours at SteinMart choosing sporty clothes. Who is in those fitting rooms trying on coral running pants with matching jackets? OLD LADIES.

Finally, and this is a big one, when do you eat dinner? Because the litmus test for aging is this one simple fact: If you eat dinner before six o’clock at night, you are old. Something happens in the digestive systems of people in their fifties that begins this downward spiral. FIGHT IT WITH ALL YOU HAVE IN YOU! Have a snack at four! Drink a glass of milk at five! But whatever you do, do not go to that restaurant! And please, when you get to the restaurant, even if it is offered on the menu,


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