Lately, I’ve had these clear memories, images of a specific minute in a specific year, a time, a place, a sound. Yesterday, I remembered being in Davis, California, in 1980 or so, in an ice cream shop called Rocky Mountain High. It was a big place, and there was a balcony up over the main counter where you could sit at a round dark wood table and watch the people below. I was with a friend listening to the Rolling Stones being piped through the restaurant, raunchy old Mick Jagger singing, “When you’re old, when you’re old, nobody will know, that you was a beauty … “
I was fifteen. I wondered immediately: years hence, would anyone know about me as a 15 year old, or would I just be hobbling around on a cane, ignored by the world? Would I even be alive as an old person?
I knew the song. I had purchased the Rolling Stones’ black vinyl album, Emotional Rescue, and played it on my tabletop stereo in my bedroom at home. When I look at the music video today, I think my God, but Mick looks like my boyfriend from high school. That’s not entirely a good thing, since now we know that Mick ran through a lot of women, left some substantially worse off then when they started, suicidal or suicides. My boyfriend from high school has had a few questionable moments as well. I try to avoid him but his name still comes up, because actually we had two children together.
At 15 I did not believe I was beautiful. So I knew the song could not be about me, even remotely. If one were beautiful, they would feel beautiful. It would go down to your soul and give you peace.
Mick Jagger’s words were suspect because his motives were suspect. Although I agreed with him about one thing: time has seemed dangerously short from the very moment I began to consider myself an adult.
I don’t know if, at 52, I’m old. But it’s interesting to note that this week I got called beautiful by my 19 year old daughter. “Oh come on Joline,” I say. “Not really.” So maybe I am somewhat the same, after all these years.
That said, I think it’s different to be beautiful to your daughter than to yourself. Meanwhile, as far as Mick Jagger goes, and all the random male claims that we women are beautiful, I think they’re serious, but I also think the implications are not the same as we believe they are. Because for me, beauty would have to go deep into who I am, while for men — sometimes it’s only skin deep, I’m afraid.