Forty. The number looms out there as soon as you round the bend of 35 and find yourself in your late 30s. I turned 40 this spring and I dealt with it pretty well. I took the day off work as did my husband and we ran off to shirk our responsibilities. The kids were safely in school; the house well protected by our horde of animals. Northern Ohio even smiled on me with a sunny day in April. We ate too much, shopped too much, and had a wonderful time.
After all, I thought 40 didn't look so bad. I got my first two writing contracts just prior to the big 4-0. I’m officially an author at forty. Life’s good. Then, I started to think what 40 was like for the women in my family. I have three older sisters who are holding their own quite nicely at 40 plus. If anything, they've gotten stronger and smarter. My husband prefers to back slowly from the room when my sisters and I get together. He claims it's the scariest thing he's ever seen.
The good news about women in my family is that we get skinnier. I'm not kidding. Any pudge we might be carrying drops from the bone between 40 and 50. That's striking it rich on the slot machine of genetics. Of course, there's a catch. As the pounds fall away so does our ability to be consistently rational. We lose our purses habitually. We set our fingernails on fire lighting votive candles in church. (No joke. Aunt Kathy had to douse the flames in the holy water.) We create and repeat quirky expressions.
My grandmother's expression was "full of laugh". Whenever she told a story about a funny event, she would end by saying "we were so full of laugh". As a kid, I though it weird; as a teenager, I rolled my eyes; as an adult, I smiled tolerantly. So I was telling a story the other day and I ended by saying "I was so full of laugh". My colleagues gave me a strange look and I sucked in a desperate breath. I ran to my computer to e-mail my sisters. I admitted the truth. I had broken the pact. You know - The Pact. The one that says I will not become my mother or grandmother or all those aunts and female cousins.
But then it’s kind of reassuring in a way. I belong to the sisterhood of the quirky expressions. When I write about women, whether they’re from the past or today, I think about them as my friends, as part of the sisterhood. Sometimes my female characters are women I know; sometimes they’re an amalgamation of several friends. Regardless, the fictional women are always ones that I like. I understand their fears, their happiness, and their quirks.
One of these days I’m going to create the character that matches an expression favored by one of my friends. She’s going to “carry her fun in her pocket”. If you get a chance to comment, tell me what a character looks like, acts like, sounds like if she carries her fun in her pocket.
May will give away a copy of her book, Landed By a Flyboy, to one commenter who leaves their email address in their comment.
Bertie Stevens has problems. Her brother is MIA in the war in Europe, the bank threatens to foreclose on her home, and the pilots from the local airbase think her resort's beach is some kind of landing strip. Still, she keeps her little resort in beautiful Cape May running through the dark years of WWII. When Captain Greg Marsh comes to quarter at her estate, he's an unwelcome symbol of the war right in her kitchen. The angry sparks flying between them at first soon turn to sparks of another kind when the passion they feel for each other can't be denied. Bertie's always sworn she wouldn't get involved with a military man. Will Greg's handsome face, confident swagger, and sincere personality cut through her reservations?