I'm reading one of her books of short stories (Close Range: Wyoming Stories, 1999). It has become my habit to pop over to Wikipedia and read about the authors of books I'm reading, and somehow I've missed all of her short stories, although I did read The Shipping News, for which she won a Pulitzer Prize. Annie lives in Wyoming and was asked if she minds having become so famous that she is now recognized in coffee shops and bookstores. She said:
No, it is not difficult to move around Wyoming anonymously. Women of a certain age are invisible. And most Wyoming people don't give a damn whether you write novels or knit mittens.How old is "a certain age"? (Annie is now 74.) Another article I found while perusing the origin of the phrase was written by Ariel Leve in the Times Online:
Whenever I see women who have had plastic surgery to look younger I think they never look younger, they just look like they've had plastic surgery in a desperate attempt to look younger. As soon as the famous woman walked away I asked the host of the party how old he thought she was. "She is," he paused carefully, "of a certain age." I'm not sure what that means. Was it a compliment? An attempt to be respectful? Turns out, neither. His explanation: "It means she's past her use-by date."
There is a real benefit to being a woman of a certain age and becoming invisible. It's even better than having an invisibility cloak, because you can just leave the makeup behind, the striving to catch someone's eye, and enjoy your life, just as it is. What do you think?