I’m secretly turned on by rich older ladies smoking cigarettes. Not like 40 years-old older, but like geriatric older.

Oh stop puking. I know what turns you on, and it’s far more shocking than grandma taking a drag.

And it’s not like I want to touch them. I just like to think about what their life was like a half a lifetime ago. I like to think that they were glamorous and popular and liberated and went to all the best parties in Rittenhouse and had a hair appointment every Thursday afternoon and held it in place with AquaNet and Pucci or Hermes scarves. I like to think about the jewelry and the stockings and pointy bras hanging over claw-footed tubs at night. Red lipstick, record players, elbow-length gloves, martinis, party dresses, and embossed calling cards.

I try to imagine how they felt when a girl like that wed, whether it turned out to be how she imagined. If she lied about being a virgin if she wasn’t, how it felt to be a new mom, trapped in the house all day with the brat, looking out the window at the younger, thinner, prettier girls who were still free to go as they pleased. If she resented going to the market and cooking and cleaning all day and if she missed the person who is trapped behind the public presentation of wife and mother. I wondered if she was secretly and guiltily happy when the children were finally grown, and what she did to re-enter herself into what was left of society. If she took speedy pills to help cope with life and get everything done like so many people did back in the days before Prozac and Xanax. If she snuck booze during the day and spit in the casserole when it came out of the oven out of spite. If she broke down and cried in frustration when the last kid was finally out the door in the morning, knowing that there was no one around to hear. Not that anyone would listen anyway.

I like to think that every time that woman inhales, she can close her eyes and remember how it felt to be young and sexy and happy before life happened to her.

And then she coughs up blood and yellow stuff and something strangely solid and her bifocals fall to the sidewalk and she slips and breaks a hip on the way to pick them up and pees herself and farts really loud and I remind myself why I never started smoking and I remember that part in Mommy Dearest where Greg Savitt says to Joan something about how when she was younger drinking made her look sexy but now it just makes her look like an old drunk and maybe I should skip happy hour for the next few years and drink a glass or eight of milk so I don’t end up on the sidewalk in fifty years with osteoporosis-induced urine running down my leg.


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