You're Not 50, You're Quintastic
Ponce de Leon searched for the mythical fountain of youth in Florida, but the UK might have been a smarter place to look, judging from the number of British-born celebrities who've retained their glamorous appearance as they've aged.
England gave the world Cary Grant, who continued to play a dashing leading man at an age when he could have been collecting a pension, and more recently, actress Helen Mirren, who posed nude last year for New York magazine at age 65. They've got a current raft of preternaturally youthful stars, from comic actor Hugh Grant to TV cooking show star Nigella Lawson, who recently turned 51 and keeps turning heads.
Fittingly, it's the Brits who have declared post-50 hotties to be the new pop culture trend, and they've even coined a buzzword for it: "quintastic."
In a recent article in The Guardian, writer Emma James tells us that in contrast to previous generations, for whom turning 50 "used to smack of cardigans, nasty coughs and golfing carts," things have changed. Today, "there's something newly cool about turning 50," she writes. In this altered state of mind, one of her sources decrees, "50 is the new 34."
Okay, then. If the nation that gave us scones, stout and Michael Caine says so, it must be so. That said, it may take Americans a while to get our heads around it, as the youngsters say. After all, it wasn't that long ago that 50 was still a pretty good punchline, as dramatized in this Saturday Night Live skit starring Molly Shannon as an aging would-be Rockette.
But hey, that sort of satirical ageism is so-o-o 2004, isn't it?
I'm not sure if quintastic would have been the term I would have coined -- to me, it initially conjured up images of the Dionne quintuplets and that episode of Arrested Development in which Conan sidekick Andy Richter played himself and four fictional identical siblings. What about "quintabulous" or better yet, "quintessential," which already is an actual word?
But that's all moot because the old gray mare is out of the barn. Quintastic already gets 32,000-plus hits on Google, and The New York Times' Schott's Vocab blog, which tracks the emergence of new words and phrases, recently deemed it worthy of this posting.
Besides, we boomers only stand to benefit if quintastic becomes embedded in our collective consciousness. And I'm not just talking about more paydays for the boomer version of Cary Grant, silver-coiffed star George Clooney -- who turns 50 in May, BTW. If we're really fortunate, American employers, who for whatever reasons have been stubbornly averse to hiring fiftysomething displaced workers to fill job vacancies, will pick up on our quintastic-ness and start hiring us in droves -- because, after all, we not only get the job done, but look good doing it.
Quintastics are not only glamorous but gifted at multitasking, as evidenced by Jamie Lee Curtis. The Halloween and True Lies star still looks scrumptious at 52 and seems to be doing pretty well at persuading Americans that Activia yogurt is equally tasty. That is when she's not acting in film comedies, blogging for the Huffington Post, or co-authoring bestselling children's books with artist Laura Cornell.
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