I have a friend who turns 50 tomorrow. She is – understandably IMO – somewhat distraught about it. 50 is a big one.

30 was a bad one for me. I saw it as the end of my youth. I cut my hair and stopped playing in bands. In hindsight, that was kind of stupid.

40 wasn’t as bad for some reason. I was OK with 40.

But I can feel 50 lurking like a stalker with a giant knife. It’s like that scene in the movies where everybody in the audience is saying “DON’T GO IN THE BASEMENT!”. But I don’t have a choice. I have to go into the basement. And so does my friend.

One of the weirdest things about this, from an outside observer’s standpoint, is that many of her female friends are trying to pacify her by saying things like “You look 39”. These are the same people who are always bitching about how all women are beautiful, even the fat ugly ones. Or how some magazine has Photoshopped the cover model. Or any number of other things that suggest they support the belief that looks aren’t important.

You can’t have it both ways, you crazy bitches.

Either looks are important, or they are not. You can’t tell my friend she looks great in order to boost her self esteem in one breath, and then say how wrong it is to doctor a Halle Berry photograph in the next. You can’t say it’s more important what’s on the inside, and then when you need to pump someone up, start with a compliment about their outside. Or rather…I suppose you can, but it makes you a hypocrite.

So to my friend Ellen, I say this on the eve of your half-centuryness:

50 is a good age for you, which is fortunate because there’s bugger-all you can do about it other than kill yourself. You think somewhat youthfully in many ways, but you’re a complete granny in other ways. So 50 seems like a good compromise. I’m not sure what a 50 year old is supposed to look like, so I won’t comment on that. Wrinkles aren’t a bad thing…especially in your case where they actually look like laugh-lines.

By the time they reach the age of 50, some people get grey hair. Some people go bald. Some people gain weight. Some people lose it. Some people look youthful. Some people look elderly. A few people act youthfully. Most people act elderly (taste in music is often a dead giveaway, pun intended).

My point is you look 50 because you ARE 50. Go ahead and freak out for a while. I’m going to. What’s the problem?

My second point is that lots of women are hypocrites when it comes to how important looks are.

My third point is “Happy Birthday, friend”.