Every woman has a moment when they acknowledge to themselves that their youth is in the rearview. For some, it’s seeing the grey hairs outnumber the colored ones. For others, it’s hitting menopause or looking at the latest issue of Vogue and realizing you have no idea who that is on the cover. But not me.
I’ve never gotten angry when checkout clerks refer to me as ma’am instead of miss, and my days of being carded are long behind me. I still insist on wearing a bikini despite my mombod and I turn a deaf ear to my younger sister’s insistence that chalking my hair hot pink isn’t cool, because it is.
I’ve held firm to the notion that my youth has not yet left the building, that I still have some miles in me based on one arbitrary fact- I’ve never received a speeding ticket.
Like Amy Schumer’s Last F*ckable Day, my ability to charm my way out of getting a ticket has been my barometer for being attractive and youthful since I was a teenager.
It started as a joke before I was even old enough to have a learner’s permit. Whenever I happened to be in a car that got pulled over, the driver got off with a warning instead of the ticket they rightfully deserved. I was a human rabbit’s foot for two boyfriends and my own mother, though I’m sure she helped odds herself.
My lucky streak continued long after I got my license, from the headlight I knew was out by feigned ignorance over at 19 to stop light I honestly didn’t see and blew through while searching for a parking stop in an unfamiliar city at 26. My ability to charm my way out of a ticket appeared to cross gender lines, prompting a female officer to chastise me to “take care of that pretty face” when I was 17 and a male officer to tell me it would be a shame to wrap my body around a car when I was flying home late one night at age 20.
I know it makes me a bad feminist, to gleefully chronical all of the times I’ve been able to dodge the law because my predetermined genetic makeup happens to fall into the category of that which society deems attractive. I’m not one to defer or rely on a man to do things for me and I think cat-calls are vile. But as I grew older, having the ability to get out of a traffic ticket meant more than not having to scrape together cash my poor student self didn’t have. It made me feel special, powerful and dare I say it- pretty.
But now I’ve reached the age where an officer asking me to step out of the car is liable to have some Goldfish crackers and an electronic game system fall at his feet when I open the door. Gone are my tight t-shirts with cheeky sayings, replaced by comfortable shoes and poly-blend that holds up to repeat washings.
I haven’t been pulled over in years, probably because my stick figure family on the back windshield and bumper sticker from a respectable school underscore the fact that I these days I always use my turn signal. Or perhaps a young cop doing the traffic beat is too embarrassed to flag down that woman who’s belting out some pop song he doesn’t recognize (it’s Britney, bitch) for going five miles over the speed limit. But I know it’s just a matter of time.
When the fateful day comes that I finally get a traffic citation, I won’t be bitter over the fine. According to karma I owe those monies about five times over. It will be the fact that I can no longer consider myself to be a hot young thing cruising along that causes me to sob as I’m handed the ticket. I’ll be just another mom in a mini-van, and I don’t know that I’m quite ready to face that reality.
Maybe I should start taking the bus.