Yielding to Vanity

In this cold weather we’ve been having, I did something I promised myself I wouldn’t do. I sacrificed being warm in favor of looking fashionable—or at least not old. I was in the parking lot for a popular trail on a day when the temperatures were in the 30s—not too cold but the wind had a bite to it. I was mulling over whether to add a pair of nylon wind pants over my jeans for extra warmth.

But when I saw a group of young women in the parking lot, dressed in the current fashion of leggings, some with bare ankles and bare heads, I decided not to wear the baggy wind pants because that would brand me as old—not just old but possibly decrepit and, god forbid, silly.  The result was that I was cold on my walk around the frozen ponds, not dangerously cold but uncomfortable enough that I cut my walk short and denied myself the pleasure of being outside.

Because my head gets cold easily, I always wear hats, another indication that I’m old and no longer cool (if I ever was). I even had my hiking poles, which most people don’t need on these level trails, but my doctor advised me to use them because of neuropathy in my feet. Compared to these young people, who seemed unencumbered by layers of clothing and who exuded good health and freedom, I felt swaddled, like someone who couldn’t handle the elements.

I know that people get colder as they get older. In his 80s, my father wore long underwear all winter long, even though his apartment temperature was set at 70 or above, leaving my siblings and I complaining every time we visited. And younger people, especially children, seem to have a higher temperature setting, running around in shorts even in winter. 

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