I caught up with Miami-born, Paris-based author Pamela Druckerman, following the release of her latest book There Are No Grown-Ups. Tired of grasping a decade’s point, until she’s squandered it, Druckerman decides to analyze her forties mid-stream. And she discovers there’s a whole lot more than chin hairs and arm cellulite going on.
She observes how Parisian waiters seemingly overnight started addressing her as Madame. What happened to Mademoiselle? And even in full hair and makeup, strolling the streets of Paris, Druckerman could tell men would appraise her and conclude:
I would sleep with her but only if doing so required no effort whatsoever.
The book touches on sex – her husband didn’t want a watch for his 40th, he wanted a ménage à trois, what to wear, friendship, how to say no and a whole host of funny and wise observations and tips for us Madames. Three personal Druckerman faves:
You know you’re in your forties when you don’t want to be with the cool people anymore: you want to be with your people.
You’re surprised that someone is flirting with you. You had written yourself off too soon.
And the first commandment:
Never wave at someone while wearing short sleeves.’
Here is an excerpt of my Q&A with Druckerman. The rest can be read here on writer’s site 26.
You say that often you don’t know the point of a decade until you are through it. Can you sum up what the point of the forties is?
The forties are the decade when you finally become who you are…or else. There’s a showdown between your aspirational and your actual selves. Hopefully, your actual self wins. And the forties are “real life” – that future that we’ve supposedly been preparing for.
You have so many laugh-out-loud sections in your book. I promptly would read them aloud to my 20-year-old daughter who didn’t find them quite as hysterical and on-point as I did (Give her 20 years). Which are your personal top five discoveries about hitting 40 and why?
You know you’re in your forties when…
You can tell when something is ridiculous.
You’ve discovered cellulite on your arms.
You sometimes wake up hungover even when you’ve had nothing to drink.
You no longer blame your parents for your flaws.
Forty somethings tend to be less neurotic than younger people, which allows them to take in more information about others. I think of the forties as a journey from “everyone hates me” to “they don’t really care.”
What would you like your tombstone to say?
Correction: She’s still alive
PS Not to be all about me (it’s so hard!) but after reading Druckerman’s book I quickly added her alongside Nora Ephron and Anne Lamott as one of my favorite writers on my site’s About Page.
Buy the book!