Dodging the Wrecking Ball

The recent train wrecks amongst our more junior celebrities has caused me to ponder the advice that I would now give to my 20 year old self about to who to date and how to conduct myself.

Although there’s plenty to learn from in my own history, learning from one’s own mistakes is nowhere near as much fun as indulging in celebrity disaster stories. Besides, mine aren’t plastered across the interwebs for google to find (and my facebook account only goes back to 2008)

Dear 20 year old version of 40s chick, 

Have vision

I know you have no apparent psychic tendencies, but you need to be aware that what is appealing now can turn bad as quickly as you can say Disney starlet meltdown.




There’s a theme here – it’s the talented clean-cut ones that seem to go horribly wrong. Pick a Mr Average and they are unlikely to do a Bieber on you.

Resist the bad-boy

Just as every head of lustrous locks could be sheltering inner demons and beneath glossy sparkling skin there could lurk a layer of festering rebellion, there’s no reason to go the opposite direction and date the out-and-out bad boy. It might seem like dating the unapologetic damaged rock star or your local recreational weed smoker at least means you know what you are up against, but no.

Take Pete Doherty, lead singer of a band that no one can remember, proven to be even too rock and roll for Kate Moss in her hard core rock chick days. Largely credited with Amy Winehouse’s downfall. You don’t want this.

You might find your local equivalent of a Charlie Sheen, refreshingly upfront about his womanising tactics, to be a known quantity and consider a dabble on a light hearted basis. Consider his philandering ways as an inbuilt safeguard which will eventually grow tiresome for you, hopefully long before he starts to look like someone you’d report to the police if he was hanging round a primary school when the kiddies are let out.


Never overlook the power of a decent wardrobe and a haircut

Even with the beer goggles on, there are some candidates you would never give a second glance. I don’t want to be all Nanna about judging and books and covers, but remind yourself that it is ALL ABOUT THE RAW MATERIAL.

Poor Jon only needed to tone down the animal print and barber the bouffant.


Even George was in trouble whilst he was dabbling with polka dots and a mullet and benefited greatly from letting go of the eyebrows and indulging in some stubble.


Recognise that a moustache is disposable – just know there’s a risk they’ll re-grow it in the 2013 hipster craze


Dear younger version of 40s chick – I promise you, someday the 80s will end

For you? Here a are couple of words of advice.

No vodka before lunch

Much can be learned from the tribulations of Lilo. Most notably, that booze before lunch is a slippery slope. Start early knocking off the vodka and OJs, everything starts to resemble your favourite tipple – orange tan, orange hair


orange jumpsuit


Above all, embrace your inner Disney Princess

Bear in mind that there is nothing wrong with hair extensions, a friendly smile and some prom style fashion.


Shiny polyester in a nude colour does no one any favours and the only person who thinks Miley Cyrus looks better in the second photo is Miley Cyrus.

Good luck!
Love 40s chick xo

If you are taking your online dating a little more seriously than this blog, check out this website for fabulously simple online dating advice.

Date preparation – then and now

This weekend saw a get together, in the teeniest of country towns, under the auspices of the infamous ‘Girls Weekend’ of a bunch of girls whose worlds had first collided in a working class suburb of Melbourne some 30+ years ago. Since we first met we had borne every bad hairstyle of the 80s, our fair share of fashion hits and misses, a dozen children (with a spectacular lack of contribution on my part), and we now represented every available relationship status offered by Facebook. Shenanigans were contained to only overindulgences in a tremendous home-made lasagne and Woolworths lamingtons, though there was a slight brush with the law when my arrival complicated things by inexplicably getting us locked out of our accommodation. This resulted in two of us having to traipse down the road and plead with the local constabulary (me aghast at having no shoes on and appearing only in stockinged feet) to call the owner to allow us entry back in again. About as close as I want to get to Lindsay Lohan when it comes to undignified legal entanglements.


There is nothing like a catchup with the besties that have been your friends since Primary School to lay on a little bit of reminiscing about times past. As one of them opined about how they didn’t envy those on the dating scene again at our age we were drawn in, as girls so often are when softened by a little white wine and sunshine, to debate whether it was easier then or now.

Honing in on the theme of date preparation, most were on the side of it being far easier back in the day. Debate ensued. And over a veritable volcano of Philly Cheese erupting sweet chilli sauce over Savoys, here’s the collective wisdom of those gals when it comes to first date prep – then and now.


Back in the day, it was enough to sit in the bath, taking in the ambience of a mosaic of brown and beige tiles, listening to one of these

cassette tape

and applying the seventy-seven kinds of chemicals (none of them actually carcinogenic, but certainly tested without regard to the welfare of our animal friends) that were present in Palmolive’s high end leave-in conditioner.

From there a vent brush

vent brush---2

was applied to wrangle that 80s perm into something that would never resemble natural hair. It was almost always necessary to hold the hair up and SPRAY EVERY SINGLE SUCKER in place with a grim abandon knowing that tomorrow you’d feel like a sticky Pop Tart had taken up residence in your hair. But, people, that was tomorrow’s problem. The fact that a can of Silhouette lacquer could be used to stop a huntsman spider in its tracks by clagging up its legs and spakfilling its breathing apparatus was just a well-understood side-benefit.

It it didn’t stick – fry in it place with a crimper.

crimped hair

Today, you need to either emulate Jen Aniston’s flat-ironed locks or the Victoria’s Secret runway curls, neither of which can ever be achieved in your own home, and will therefore require a pre-planned hairdresser visit and the presentation of an appropriately bolstered credit card.


Back in the day, eye colour came in a crème pot, and once Lady Diana started rocking the blue eyeshadow and started crayoning a matching blue to her inner eyelids, we knew that doing the same placed us only a moment away from finding our own Prince.

blue eyeliner diana

We all conveniently overlooked that her prince was actually the uninspiring Charles and re-oriented ourselves to trapping George Michael via his endorsement of peacock eye-shadow.

blue eyeshadow

(it took many more albums and a number of tabloid articles before we realised that George Michael was not going to end up our Prince either….. Not sure why we didn’t realise earlier…)

or gloves

Back then, we could leave eyebrows completely unattended, to the point where, following the influence of Brooke Shields, we could pretty much allow beings the size of two mutant furry caterpillars to roam our foreheads at will.

Brooke Shields Eyebrows

Now we must allow overpriced beauticians to apply boiling wax to our eyebrows and tear out all those errant hairs with careless abandon, at about the price of $1.50 per hair (depending on how hirsute you are)


In the early 80s, the word pedicure was about as well used as the word sun-dried tomato. You painted on successive layers of Cutex until a chisel was required, then you started over.

These days, it starts at your feet. Any woman in her 40s that has gained a few kilos, knows that the fastest way to improve your BMI is to wear super-high heels. If you are in the Southern Hemisphere, your new year’s resolution to MEET SOMEOME will likely mean that your high heel of choice is going to be a strappy sandal – which means your toes need to be in order.

Whilst tarting up your feet is going to be inexpensive due to the invasion of cheap nail salons, it’s not without its level of discomfort, especially if you are a runner like me, whose feet have a more tenuous grip on their surface than a truck with the cheapest of budget retreads

Despite my apologies to the ladies, there is a twittering that goes on when they spy my feet that makes me think that this insidious new eruption of cheap nail salons comes with its own ‘Klingon’ style language. It’s disturbing, and although they are inclined to sometimes trumpet reassuringly at random ‘you so skeennny’, nothing can make me feel good about all this.


These days, its about exfoliation, fake tan and some kind of sparkly skin cream that allows you all the shimmer and tan of a stint in the Bahamas without lapsing into something that suggests you’ve emerged from the local Tandoori restaurant’s oven and rolled into a field of glitter.

Back then, you did a bit of an Aapri scrub, and, if he was special, you splashed some Reef Oil sunscreen into your bath water and swanned around for the rest of the evening like an overheated pina colada, all the while giving off a whiff of Arpege.


In short? We think it might have been a little easier back in the day. But I think it might take another Girls Weekend, with obligatory carbs and vino, with only a fleeting visit from the constabulary if we REALLY DESERVE IT, to figure out the answer for sure.

Dabbling in the Dating Demographics

Being single in your 40s means you may be tempted to do a little of what I would call dabbling in the boundaries of the dating demographics.

Whilst we’ve already delved into the downsides of dating a toyboy it is prudent not to launch yourself too far in the other direction either.

Whilst you may not be subjected to the Gen X tendencies for dubious texting, music festivals and trying to build generation gap bridges, venturing into a decade or so above your own can be as perilous as trying to keep Lindsay Lohan sober before lunchtime.

Here’s why.

 One – he might be a bit smothery.

Not all men with a level of chronological maturity necessarily possess an equivalent level of self confidence.  This can mean they are pre-disposed to marking their territory with the same eye-watering intensity as a crazed tomcat.

It might seem like a truly lovely form of affection or a nurturing streak gaining momentum after your BF emerges from his prior sterile and loveless relationship but more likely it is attributable to them trying to demonstrate that they are your significant other rather than your father.

At the point that it starts to take on characteristics normally reserved for WWF wrestling, you’d be well advised to MAKE A RUN FOR IT.

Celebrities Attend The Dallas Mavericks Vs The New York Knicks Game

Even if you don’t see this characteristic when you are out and about together, at a sporting match, browsing supermarket shelves in a state of mutual domesticity or dining at an outdoor café, do understand that you don’t actually have to be present for your BF to undertake a cringe-worthy PDA.

tom cruise

Two – he may have accumulated somewhat of a reputation

Its not just having the advantage of years that may mean several women have trod that path before you, it can also be that your new squeeze has been fairly prodigious in the dating market.

Two immediate warning signs from the online dating world:

  • He doesn’t remove his profile from the site whilst you are dating
  • He appears in the Top 100 list

If you suspect you are just another frequent flyer mile on his journey to platinum status, exit the aircraft through the forward doors NOW.

Definitely do so before you discover that his effect on women, and ensuing vanity has become such that someone has written about it….

…’you’re so vain’ …..


Three – there are going to be offspring

This in itself is not necessarily unique, and in fact a little carry-on baggage in the form of some miniature humans is the bread and butter of dating in your 40s.

You may be able to deal with this quite well, and find you have in fact now accumulated a couple of new BFFs to share fashion tips and beauty advice, but at all times, adhere to one single rule.

Avoid being photographed together for fear you somewhat awkwardly look like siblings rather than ‘steps’

rod stewart kimberley stewart

Four – there may be have been some ‘struggles’ before you arrived

 Beyond reputation and children, there may be other accompaniments when you latch onto someone with a few more miles on the clock than you.

They may have had some prior struggles.

And, yes, we know that no-one becomes single in their 40s without a little bit of alcohol-induced facebooking, some dabbling in ‘look at me’ type antics and some tabletop dancing injuries, but we’re talking here about something a little more ‘permanent-record’ and indiscreet.  

 You are well-advised to avoid anything that involves a well-documented sex addiction, bit of anti-semitic rambling or youtube-viral drunken slanging of your offspring.  Consider it an early warning sign. Yes. Really.

mel hoff md

Five – He may be ill-prepared to age gracefully

Surprisingly, you may have been a carefully cultivated encounter – one of a procession of thinly disguised, targeted campaigns to keep his arm candy in a demographic that suggests his own endless virility and youth.

It’s a slippery slope from here to other aberrant behaviour,  including pursuing the fountain of youth a little more aggressively than just secretly snitching your Elizabeth Arden eight hour cream.

Hello Mickey Rourke.


More commonly it exhibits itself as age-inappropriate fashion, a failure to recognise the attire that they could only have pulled off with any kind of swagger when 90210 last screened.

bad fashion

Sounds fairly innocuous. But its just a mere moment from mild awkwardness of this


To the consistent downright laughability of this

the edelstens

With the potential danger of you waking up one day to find that he has toned it down several notches and suddenly you are the one OUT ON THE SARTORIAL EDGE.


Dodge these pitfalls and you might just find your way to a solid long-term relationship with someone ready to be settled and stable.

Just be sure that doesn’t represent something that no amount of time will ever make ok.


Four Stages of Breakup Grief – aka don’t wear hotpants

When the impact of the demise of a long term relationship hits you in your 40s, your reaction to it is likely to be somewhat different to your experience when you last transitioned to single.  Whilst the younger version of you still wailed about the loss of your three-month-strong relationship with your gothic moody boyfriend, and you felt that as a tender 20-something you life was indeed now over, you were likely to have been somewhat resilient and onto a new thing with a second year university student faster than you can say Beer Pong.

In your 40-s however, despite the significant life experience you have under your calf-skin Fendi belt, and the strength acquired from career limiting moves, fashion faux pas, credit card shocks and family meltdowns, this breakup is going to be more painful than the combined physical and financial pain of a production line of root canals.

root canal

ie – it will suck.

Thankfully, this too will pass, although you will want to give a thorough bludgeoning to every well-meaning acquaintance that tells you so (hence I’m telling you this from the safety of an anonymous blog with full moderation power over any written bludgeoning you might post in the little comments box)

In the spirit of the tremendously compassionate Elizabeth Kubler-Ross who neatly parcelled up bereavement into five stages of grief, let me offer you the four stages of recovery from the mid 40s relationship breakdown (yes, I realise I’m one short, but seriously, no one has died….)

 One – it begins with a Breakup Song

 Every breakup worth its salt has an accompanying anthem.  It needs to have characteristics that embody anger, jealousy, bleakness and despair.

Just as every 90s wedding I attended was accompanied by Shania Twain’s ‘From this Moment On’, I’d venture an opinion that 90% of the last two years’ breakups will have aligned themselves to the musings of Adele.  (who in turn picked up the mantle from the bleatings of Alanis Morissette)

combined morisset and adele

At all costs however, ensure that you choose the breakup song and that it DOESN’T CHOOSE YOU.    This is for the simple reason that a song, and indeed the complete works of that artist, may be ruined for you forever if associated with your breakup.

So you must venture beyond your favourite genres to something completely disposable given the risk your nasty breakup becomes associated with it for all eternity.

Even if you have a twin love for The Smiths and The Cure, a team of chaps with nary a joyful theme in their entire back catalogue, don’t go there if you would like to allow them an ongoing position in your playlist.

combined morrissey and cure

Instead I would personally recommend Lady Gaga’s ‘Bad Romance’ as, once you have moved on, releasing this song from your life will be as insubstantial as the loss of a cluster of fairy floss after an ill-advised spinny ride at the local carnival.

 Two – It progresses to Dietary Dysfunction

This can go either way.

You may well dive head-first into a bucket of Ben and Jerry’s with the enthusiasm of a kid in one of those ball-rooms at Ikea.  From there you will progress to taking a large block of Lindt White Chocolate (the one with the almonds) in conjunction with your daily multivitamin in the firm view that both are equally essential to your wellbeing.

Alternatively, you will attempt to wrest control over your emotions by inflicting a vice-like hold on your eating habits to the point that you:

  •  Only eat foods of one particular colour (and let me tell you it won’t be white as CLEARLY all refined carbs will appear to you to represent poison)
  • Juice everything within reach with the objective of being reincarnated as that relentlessly joyful Gwyneth Paltrow
  • Make your way through the A-Z of diet books, from Atkins to Zone.

Either way, it can’t last, and you can expect a very Lindsay-Lohan moment as you arrive home one day to an intervention assembled in your lounge room – albeit in your case pushing a somewhat voluntary trip to a health spa rather than anything court-ordered.


 Three – Alcohol becomes a food group

Its misleading to depict these as phases as this and the dietary dysfunction phase are interchangeable, and in extreme cases occur in parallel.

In discussion of this phenomenon with one of my BFFs she recognised it immediately as ‘Ohhh, the divorce diet, ie open the mini-bar – I’M COMING IN’

Another described it as ‘Its OK Mummy, we might not have milk but your vodka is  in the freezer’

Thankfully, there is not a prescription drug on earth that can counter the nausea of a true divorce-hangover so you will eventually tire of losing your weekends to endless horizontal hours trying to ingest Gatorade and get upright.

You will, therefore,  move on.

 Four – Relentless Reinvention

Possibly more positive, but still ever-so-slightly dysfunctional, is the procession of steps you will take to try to reinvent yourself.  This can include, but is not limited to:

Clearin’ this house out of joy that I borrowed
From back in the day
Threw away my old clothes
Got myself a new wardrobe
I got something to say

 as long as you understand that gold hotpants are NOT FOR YOU now.

kylie m

  •  Taking on an extreme physical challenge. This might, hypothetically, entail you training for the New York Marathon, a feat so bizarre that even the universe laughs and feels compelled to intervene by sending Hurricane Sandy to save you from that fate.
  •  Getting new hobbies.  Ballroom dancing, Cross-fit, Knitting, Volunteering, Cycling, Blogging, Macrame.  Just understand that these are not an end in themselves and are only necessary so you can Facebook-check-in at all associated venues and give an air of someone having a riotously full life.

Don’t let it come to this

. two warnes

Don’t mention THE EX

Unless you are dealing with someone that is so young that they haven’t had time to have a significant ex in their life, in which case, read this, your new romantic interest will no doubt have a former flame that has loomed large in their dating history.  Anyone they have married, been engaged to or has borne their child will likely trigger a glimmer of curiosity which, if you give it any attention, has the potential to embed itself in your brain like a rare and untreatable waterborne parasite.    Poke at that sucker by asking questions about the ex, and it will morph into a Guinness-book-of-records-sized slug that will suck the living daylights out of all your internal organs quicker than a Lindsay Lohan period of good behaviour.


Sure, there are always the exes that will allow you, by contrast, to appear as the pinnacle of beauty, sanity, honesty and just plain good manners.  You might find someone that has had the misfortune to have an ex like one of these celebrities do:

  • Paris Hilton – whose ex distinguished himself by releasing that unfortunate home movie (although the jury is still out as to whether that may represent her finest acting achievement)
  • Sandra Bullock – whose Oscar moment was ruined by fiancé Jesse James running off with a trashy tattoo model.   Hollywood princess vs bad boy rarely ends well and this one was a descendant of the actual outlaw of the same name, not just a cashed up heir with some antisocial traits. Poor Sandy.
  • Tiger Woods. No need to elaborate.

For every ex that may allow you to shine by comparison, there are many more that will cause you nothing but angst if you examine them too closely.

Accept that there are exes you simply can’t be.

One – the mother of his first child.  Regardless of how this relationship ended, there is a bond with this ex that has endured things that if you are childless, you will never know.  Ultrasounds, which personally, I can’t view without wanting to screech out loud ‘SEE!!! We are ALL DESCENDED FROM ALIEN BEINGS’  The incessant vomiting of morning sickness that mirrors a never-ending hangover without the preceding uproarious good time that means you deserve it.  The rigors of childbirth, which despite all progress in every other realm of human life, still resembles a barbaric ritual of the dark ages.  They’ve survived that, been rewarded with a beautiful child, and even if you are keen and biologically able to replicate it, that original bond will still stand alongside yours.

A physical copy of his ex.  You are not going to be a carbon copy of those who have gone before you – unless your love interest has a near-psychopathic addiction to a certain physical type (hello, I’m looking at you Leonardo Di Caprio)


Here’s a tip – NOR SHOULD YOU TRY TO BE.

There are endless reasons to avoid any possibility of ever seeing a photo of his ex.  The prime reason is that the innate laws of the feminine universe dictate that if there are two photos, you will see this one

19th Annual Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards - Arrivals

not this one


From that point, you can’t unsee it and the next thing you know, in an effort to emulate your ex’s natural tumbling curls, you are in a hairdresser’s chair staring at your new 80s style spiral perm.  About four weeks later you will spend the cost of a smart pair of Italian shoes getting it put back to normal again, with the unfortunate postscript being that you got your passport renewed in between and you now have to explain that hairstyle brain-snap for the next ten years.

A competitor, if she has some freakish god-given talent.  There are many things that you simply can’t learn without some kind of underlying talent.  Playing piano by ear, pulling off ‘Dancing like the stars’ style moves, singing (and no, your booze-fuelled karaoke efforts do not constitute singing…there are still Tokyo residents with bleeding ears from your last efforts), being a fearless black run skier.  I can personally vouch for all of these.

If the ex factor does start to crawl round in your brain, hold back from trying to transform yourself and just mentally endow her with a mythical set of very unfortunate personality traits.  Choose from any one or combination of these.

  • Dubious personal grooming  – like Julia Roberts in her underarm hair era
  • Nails on a blackboard voice – eg Fran from The Nanny or Ross’ girlfriend Janice from Friends.
  •  The intelligence of Miss South Carolina 2007 who responded as follows to the question about why many Americans can’t locate the US on a map….pageant

There’s bound to be a very good reason why they broke up. Find it. Or invent it.