DIANE KEATON SPEAKS IN PRINCETON ABOUT GETTING OLD!

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[A little something light after all that heavy reading about war, revolution and loss….]

IMG_0564 I wasn’t there.  I wouldn’t dream of driving across dreaded Route 1 to the Hyatt Regency to squeeze myself into a sold-out event sponsored by Princeton Healthcare System and attended by more than 1,000 people.  But I did avidly consume a report of the occasion by one Jennifer Kohlhepp (who I do not know) for the May 9, 2014 issue of “The Princeton Packet,” a throw-away town paper that usually goes straight from our front lawn into the recyclable garbage.  I suspect the report was written as local “news.”  I devoured it as celebrity gossip, to which I’m never averse as long as (a) I know the name of the celebrity it’s about; and (b) it’s free reading.

Knowing who celebrity gossip is about isn’t as easy as it used to be at the time I was a more au courant viewer of movies and television.  These days, when I no longer have exhausting ten-hour work days to recover from, I almost never watch the junk that passes for television entertainment.  As a result, I couldn’t tell you anything about those vapid-looking youngsters on the pages of “People Magazine” — which I idly peruse (for free) while waiting in line at the local supermarket to check out with my month’s supply of paper towels, toilet paper and like that.

But Diane Keaton?  She’s 68.  I knew her (in a manner of speaking) when.  What’s more, the reason for her appearance in these parts is that she’s written a book, recently published, called “Let’s Just Say It Wasn’t Pretty” — which Jennifer Kohlhepp has given me to understand is right up the alley of this blog:  a memoir of thirteen stories that explore life, beauty and aging in a world obsessed with appearances, “according to Ms. Keaton.”

I will make the not particularly rash assumption that you too did not attend the event, and that you might even be mildly interested in learning what this usually pleasant and unpretentious movie star had to offer from the podium at the Hyatt Regency on the subject of getting old. (Especially if you have nothing better to do with three minutes or so.) So without more ado, I offer you snippets from Ms. Kohlhepp’s account of the proceedings. [With a few asides from me within brackets.]

Ms. Keaton said she would like to ask her contemporaries if they look in the mirror, sigh and ask themselves what old age is for — why the liver spots, wrinkles, hair turning color, vocal cords changing, diminished eyesight, and reduced mental and cognitive thinking.  [Me butting in about this last bit:  “Oh yeah?  Who sez?”]

“On the bonus side, I’ve become friends with some of my business contemporaries,” Ms. Keaton said.  “One is Jack Nicholson.  When I first met Jack Nicholson it was not possible to be his friend … I didn’t want to be his friend.”

After they filmed “Something’s Gotta Give,” the two became good pals, with Ms. Keaton going to his ranch once a month for lunch, she said.  She then read a letter she wrote to him about “looking out for him” and “having his back.”  [Me again:  Is he infirm?  Has something happened to him that I’ve missed?]

Later she focused on her relationship with Woody Allen.  The duo still walks through New York City like they used to when they were young, “but not holding hands,” Ms. Keaton said.

One of the last times they met in the city, she said, “He looked at me with a really long gaze and mentioned I had a kind of beauty that required a beekeeper’s hat.”  [Me:  Is that a friend?]

In grappling with getting old, the self-proclaimed baby boomer said she has learned that 42 percent of her generation are extending retirement and 25% are not retiring.  Her research has also determined that she has a life expectancy of 86.

“I’m going to try my best to make the most of these 18 years,” she said.  “Being old is a gut leveling experience.  I’m in preparation for the incomprehensible … end zone of life.  I’m going to deepen my laugh lines and enjoy the underrated beauty of humanity….”

Ms. Keaton ended her talk saying, “One thing resonates … old is gold.”

Participants had the opportunity to ask Ms. Keaton questions through a moderator.  In answering, she said she would never return to Broadway because she doesn’t like performing in front of real people.  She also said she was the only person in the original cast of “Hair” who wouldn’t take her clothes off.

“Now that I’m older, I would love to take my clothes off, if you only ask me,” Ms. Keaton said.  [Me:  She’s got to be kidding!  Or else she’s in unbelievable shape! An aging female friend and I once agreed that if we were ever to start in again with a new man (and without clothes), it would have to be in the semi-dark and missionary position.  That way all the loose bits would hang down and out of sight of the one on top.]

Her greatest challenge as a woman has been raising two children at “a late age in life” and her greatest enjoyment in being an actress was “kissing all those men.”

On dating Warren Beatty, she said, “It was good.”

When asked what destination she has on her bucket list, she said “Heaven.”  [She’s evidently a double optimist.] 

In answering the final question, Ms. Keaton said, “Laughter is just everything.”

Well, there you have it.  Now you don’t have to read the book.  And aren’t you glad you missed going?  I bet she wishes she could have missed going, too.  If only churning out a book didn’t mean you also had to promote it…..

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4 thoughts on “DIANE KEATON SPEAKS IN PRINCETON ABOUT GETTING OLD!

  1. I don’t comment just for the sake of argument. I really like your writing. And if I suggest a different point of view, it’s meant as just friendly conversation. That being said, don’t you think that if two older people get together, and feel open to intimacy, that they will have a grown up tolerance… and more important, an appreciation of the signs of aging? It’s not as if a woman is a generic product, and an old woman is a poor imitation of the ‘real thing’. The creases, and wrinkles and scars, and ‘loose bits’ are all a part of life that we know from our own experience. On the other hand, some people are more modest, and might have preferred dim lighting even when they were 30. But lets not limit our vision of beauty to those Hollywood stars at the height of their popularity.

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    • Perhaps not such a different point of view. I don’t dispute that there is beauty in a loved face which carries the marks (and sags and wrinkles) of the years. And certainly no one — least of all me — would limit ideas of beauty to the appearance of Hollywood stars in their prime. If so, none of us women would have had much of a chance, even when in full bloom! However, and it’s a big however, there’s a qualitative difference between loving appreciation and erotic desire. What brings on tumescence in a man (even an old one)? A still youthful and shapely female body that remains firm to the touch, or a sagging one with mushy flesh that collapses beneath the fingers? Does a woman (even an old one) yearn to be pierced by a stallion, or dream of laboring over a flaccid instrument in hopes of getting it to work properly? That may be putting it somewhat crudely. It’s certainly true that two old people may still harbor desire and satisfy it with each other. (How else?) But isn’t it both kinder and more productive in such a situation to dim the lights and stage the encounter to preserve some of the romantic fantasy for both parties? Time enough afterwards to let everything hang out. You did say this was just “friendly conversation,” didn’t you? 🙂

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      • Certainly, a friendly conversation, Nina. If you and your man were ever to land in Jerusalem for a vacation, you have my wholehearted invitation to my home for an evening, and I will be most pleased to introduce you to some of my friends. When it comes to fantasy, I’m in favor. And willing to respect everyone’s personal fantasy; whatever turns the person on… including Hollywood stars. And if a fellow is turned off by an old woman, let him think of nubile young ones. And here I have to admit that some of my friends accuse me of being a primitive. But I see room for erotic fantasies involving even, amazing as it may seem, old women. I say it’s a matter of taste. And when it comes to stories of flaccid members, you reminded me of a rather depressing story I ready by J.P. Sartre quite a few years ago. But my answer to that, is that when two people have erotic desires together, they usually find a way to excite and pleasure one another, regardless of age.

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