Deirdre Kelly

Getting Older (But Not Necessarily Better)

Well, I’ve been absent from these pages for a while. I feel I need to explain myself. I wrote a second book. To do it, I had to stay glued to my chair for months on end (six months to be exact) and I couldn’t even think of writing anything other than it, and of course, the articles required as part of my day job as a national newspaper reporter. So it’s done: a backstage history of the ballerina from the court of Louis XIV until the present day. The working title is Ballerina. In it, I examine the dirt beneath the satin slipper, so to speak, all the ugly pracatices committed in the name of art against these iconic women of the dance. It will make me very popular with ballet companies (not!) I’m fluffing my tutu as I write (double not!)

So the good news is I did it, I killed myself for something lasting, and, in my opinion, owrthwhile. The bad news is that my eyes are now so weak I can’t read my own nesaper without a magnifying glass. Also, my legs hurt from sitting so much, and I appear to have a popped rib right under my colar bone due to excess mousing. Yes, it’s as painful as it sounds. I feel like one of the ageing ballerinas I write of in the book — wasted before my time. 

It’s my birthday soon and while I’d like to blame my injuries on the book (another female casuality of ballet!) I must face the music and chalk it all up to advancing age. I am that much closer to the grave, thank-you very much, as practicaly  every time I meet — all of them distressingly younger — seem to be  out of their way to emphasize. I’ll give you a depressing example.

So, there I was, in New York City, out on the town with a gaggle of groovy gals (a media trip to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Kiehls, the luxury beauty brand). We were sipping Manhattans and nibbling on tiny carrot sticks placed before us in shot glasses on the table at The Waverly Inn, the new happening resturant owned by Vanity Fair editor (and fellow Canadian), Graydon Carter. I was having a lovely time until I turned to the Amazonian brunette beside me, a former MuchMusic veejay turned morning telwevision hiostess with the mostest in her barely there minis, and said, “Doesn’t it remind you of our parents sdays?” She froze her upteenth glass of red wine in mid air and  turning to look at me (but slightly) answered, “You mean, our grandparents.” It was an epiphany moment as devastating as that experienced by Stephen Daedalus in Portrait of an Artist as Young Man when he discovers that his girlfriend reveals more of her soul to the priest than to him: an instant relationship breaker. In that moment, I realized I had somehow skipped a generation. I was hopelessly out of touch. 

Adding insult to injury, the next day I suffered a wicked hangover, and all I had was  half a drink: my liver had shrivelled up (along with some other things too painful to mention). It’s official: I am now well past having fun. Or at least the kind of fun I used to have when I was, well, young. Sigh.

Well, at least I’ll have a good book to curl up with once Ballerina is published in the fall. I’ll be reading my own copy with spectacles on as well as apair of old socks to keep me warm late at night under the sheets. Dancing in my dreams.

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