Today I’m 50. As I skipped down memory lane in search of fluffy, heart-warming reminiscences with which to fill this golden-jubilee column, I quickly discovered the distinct lack thereof.
Don’t get me wrong: I’ve had my fair share of splendor in the grass, fine dining and Rémy Martin, etc. However, as I recherché ‘d my temps perdu , I found that it was the grotesqueries of life-as opposed to all those Hallmark afternoons chasing butterflies through clouds of thistledown-which have forever seared themselves onto the skirt steak of my memory.
The 1950′s: This was the denture decade, when getting one’s teeth yanked was not just inevitable, it was positively de rigueur . My maternal grandparents in Northern Ireland caused a familial shudder when they extracted-with pliers-what was left of each other’s pegs. Before the decade was over, my mum had waved goodbye to all hers, and my dad to half of his. Once they got dentures, nobody in my family seemed able to hang onto them: It only took a light sneeze to send my mother’s ill-fitting choppers flying across the kitchen. I can still remember the noise they made when they hit the linoleum floor. One sad day, Dad’s teeth flew out and landed in the oil under his motorbike.
(This early overexposure to dental catastrophe may well account for my lifelong obsession therewith, with all its thundering Freudian implications-see last week’s column.)
The 1960′s: Sex entered my life when a stray mutt shagged my Auntie Phyllis’ Seeing Eye dog while she and I-and Lassie-were out for a constitutional. I had barely recovered from this horror when a horny, priapic colt fornicated with a pony called Jenny … while I was still riding her ! By this time, it had become clear to me that sex and mayhem were synonymous. In 1962, at age 10, I had my first frottage, with a fresh-faced lad who went on to become one of Europe’s most celebrated cross-dressing entertainers.
In the 60′s, unmarried mothers were common, in both senses of the word: Everywhere I looked, there were tragic, pregnant slags who had succumbed to the impulse for “a bit of slap ‘n’ tickle” after one too many “Babychams.” These reviled unfortunates were so utterly forlorn that their misery reaches out down memory lane and still tugs at my heartstrings.
The 1970′s: Despite being plastered for most of this decade, I can remember a lot. And it’s all really, really unsavory. This is the Plato’s Retreat decade, when people were kinky and proud of it. In the mid-70′s, I opened my front door and confronted a man in late middle age dressed up as a prep-school boy: He was even carrying some schoolbooks under his arm. “I’m gray-flannel-shorts-and-knee-socks of North London,” announced the enigmatically attired visitor. It took me several minutes to figure out which of my ultra-kinky neighbors he might be looking for.
During the 1970′s, formerly inhibited folk gave full rein to their most perverse impulses: I knew a man who would buy boxes of Tampax just for the frisson of feminine identification that it afforded him. In L.A., I once met a nautical man dressed up in a crisp white cruise-director ensemble who blithely explained that he was on his way to a “uniform orgy.” Have a nice day!
The 1980′s: The decade of death and intense physical suffering. There seemed to be no end to the horrid permutations of sickness that could engulf a human body with no immune system.
Moving right along: By the 1990′s , I found myself surrounded by wanky New Age pseudo-spirituality. After an old friend was hacked to death with a meat cleaver by a man he met on holiday in Morocco, the New Age preacheress who presided over his funeral deemed it appropriate to introduce the theme of “forgiveness” into the service-as if it was ever forgivable to hack someone to death with a meat cleaver.
2000-2010: I know I shall look back on this as the decade of rejuvenation. Now that I am d’un certain age, well-intentioned, Botoxed fellow baby boomers are petitioning me to avail myself of the latest advances in beauty technology. These wrinkle-conscious Peter Pans will stop at nothing in their quest to remain young-looking. If you don’t believe me, log onto skinmedica.com and read all about an unguent called SkinMedica T.N.S. Recovery Complex. It contains Human Fibroblast Conditioned Media, which, as it turns out, is- oy vey -babies’ foreskins!! How’s that for a beauty tip?
Re looking young, which I’m told I do: Being short helps, but so does Weleda Iris Face oil ($16.99). A liberal après-shower application helps prevent that chalky 18th-century look.
Re birthday gifts: Keep your baby foreskins! The only thing I really want is the new Missy Elliott CD, entitled Under Construction . It’s not due out until Nov. 12, but I’m already totally addicted to the song “Work It,” during the video of which Missy swallows an entire ’64 Chevy Impala convertible.