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Gorgeous Mexican Hilda and I went for one of our occasional breakfasts at Ikea this week. I can never argue on location when she suggests it. How can you beat a $1 breakfast, coffee/tea included (although they now hide the tea bags), no tip? Every once in a while, I suggest that maybe she would like to come downtown, try a sweet cafe and have a croissant and steamed milk in her coffee. But then she always reminds me that we are women with limited resources so why would we pass up a deal like the one Ikea offers us? I can’t argue with her logic — but I could with the location.

Hilda and I are both Ladies of a Certain Age. I have no problem whatsoever telling anyone who wants to know — and some who couldn’t care less — that I am 68 years old. (68!!! I’m still getting used to that number. Iit is a little bit scary.) Hilda, on the other hand, is one of these women who never, ever tells anyone — not even her close friends — how old she is. I always find this a tad irritating in women. Whenever anyone does it, even my close friends, I immediately want to get on my soapbox and start pounding my fists into the air, pontificating about honoring our lives and our wrinkles and our middle-spreads and even our varicose veins. Why the hell not? Not owning up to our age doesn’t make us any younger, for goodness sakes, and it often gets one of those back-handed complements like, “I’d never have guessed you could be that old!” I still do not know how old Hilda is — whatever age, she looks terrific.

Hilda and I have very different takes on this aging gracefully bit. I do it donning jeans, fleece jackets, turtle neck shirts, no makeup — well occasionally I do put on a little lipstick just to shake things up. I also wear a backpack and ugly, thick soled black shoes. Actually, I have no choice about the last two. If I don’t wear the thick-soled, gawd-awful-gee-they’re-ugly shoes I don’t walk. There it is. And if I don’t use the backpack, my left shoulder, where I always carry my bags, starts to slant in a not-natural position and then I get serious muscle problems. Hilda, on the other hand, wears three inch heels (she had on knee-high purple leather boots for our breakfast date — they were gorgeous), skirts or dresses never, never pants, perfect makeup, jewelry, hair stylishly tinted and puffed and perfume. We are definitely two visions of aging beauty! And, we look great together.

What’s interesting, is that at Ikea for breakfast we each fit right in. There is always an eclectic gathering for the 10:00 a.m. opening. (And, believe me, you want to get there early so that those eggs haven’t been sitting in that steam table too, too long.) Hilda and I always get a seat by the windows so we have a “view”. It’s only the parking lot and the highway beyond. You could pretend you can see the lake because you know it’s out there, but it would take a lot of imagination. From this vantage point, we can also see the whole room of breakfasters. On Tuesday, by far, the majority of the crowd followed my “style” preferences. There was a lot of polar fleece in that room — but it was the coldest day of the winter. But, here and there were ladies who, like Hilda, took the time that morning to really snazzy themselves up. One woman, in particular, looked stunning in her black pencil skirt, Hilda-high heels, a sleeveless black top — I was worried about her getting frost-bitten even inside — and, to top it off, a wide, bright, bright red belt. “Bravo,” I silently praised her.

There really isn’t a right way or a wrong way to dress these aging bodies of ours. I could do a wee bit better and adopt some of Hilda’s Style Tips — not the perfume (I’m allergic), nor the three inch heels (my feet hurt just thinking about that) — but a bit of makeup wouldn’t hurt and I could comb my hair with something other than my fingers. And Hilda, I think, would do well to follow my lead to the comfort and freedom of jeans. It won’t happen and that’s ok. We’ll continue to be good friends who look beyond the trappings that we wear on our backs and into the love and respect we hold for each other in our hearts.

I don’t think either of us will ever make the cover of Zoomer magazine, but who cares anyway.

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