Many years ago while walking briskly up New York City’s Fifth Avenue on a bright, spring morning, I slowly overtook what appeared to be a blond, twenty-something woman—slim, well-dressed, and attractive. As I passed by and glanced over, she glanced back and smiled. As our eyes met, I think I let out an audible gasp. She was about seventy years old.
She was a character straight out of Fellini’s “La Dolce Vita.” The long blond hair was a wig, her own wispy, white hair sticking out at the edges. Her face was a web of wrinkles. Her eyebrows had been plucked out and penciled back in, and her large, plump lips were only flat, slightly crooked images drawn in bright red lipstick over a lip-less mouth. As a 70-year-old, she could have been an appealing, handsome woman. But as a 20-year-old, she was grotesque.
Ever since, I mind my own business when I walk alone in a city.