Nancy Slotnick: What’s Your Scary Age?

I just recently heard this phrase “what’s your scary age?”  It refers to women’s biological clock.  It implies that women are scared of the limitations of their own bodies when it comes to fertility.  Which we are.

There’s nothing like the last minute.  In college I used to wait until the day before a paper was due before starting it.  The theory was that if I started earlier the work would just expand to fit all that extra time that I had.  If I waited until the night before and had some good coffee (or Jolt- the predecessor to Red Bull- you can see I’m at a scary age!) then the pressure of the procrastination would Jolt me into getting it done.  That drink was aptly named.

Except there was that one time.  It was supposed to be the biggest “gut” class.  An easy A. They called it “gas stations” because we literally studied the landscape of gas stations and every day places that you never notice.  The stakes were higher because this paper was a 15 pager and the professor had a hang-up about lateness of papers and never gave extensions.  So of course I choked.  I waited until the last minute as usual, drank too much Jolt and had a caffeine overdose reaction.  Then I fell asleep.  Go figure.

What is the moral to this story?  Don’t trust a beverage whose slogan is “All the sugar and twice the caffeine!”  That I figured out even before I graduated Harvard.  But what has taken me all of these years later (I’m getting dangerously close to my 25th reunion) to learn?  You don’t have to wait until you’re scared before you kick your butt in gear.  And when the pressure’s on, it’s even more likely that you’ll choke.  And you don’t want to choke on something as important as marriage and kids.

So start early.  Leave extra time.  Everything takes longer than we want to accept and there’s always traffic, complications and limitations.  Even a task as simple as writing a paper, where it is relatively easy to predict the timing, can go awry.  When it comes to finding love, there are elements of luck and fate (and the other person!) that we definitely can’t control.  It’s hubris if we pretend we can control it.  So if you want to be married by 35, then you have to start focusing on it when you’re 30.  You have to leave room for things to go wrong, for breakups to happen and for a lot of kissing frogs.  But the beautiful thing is that if you leave extra time, there’s time for serendipity to happen. When you’re rushing from appointment to appointment and yelling at the cab driver then you don’t really have time for your Cablight to be on.

In many ways, the feminist movement did a disservice to women by telling them that they can have everything that men have.  We can’t have their biological clocks.  We have to pay attention to time if we want kids the natural way.  It’s not as easy for us to have it all.  And it’s not men’s fault.

If a guy is 35 and he doesn’t want to date a woman his age, it’s not necessarily ageist.  If he wants to leave extra time to enjoy the courtship phase and the honeymoon phase before starting to have kids, he may just be a good planner.  He may just feel that Jolt is not a healthy beverage and it is destined to go out of business after making a whole bunch of college students sick.  And he’d be right.  Or he may be a creep.  It can be hard to tell.  But either way, the rest of us should take a lesson from him about long term planning.

When it comes to our lovelives, we can’t afford to procrastinate.  The stakes are too high.   That’s why I hate when people say “I want it to happen thenatural way.”  It’s just a good excuse for ignoring nature, ignoring biology, because we don’t want to face that we have limited time.  So carpe diem and start making things happen in your life.  It’s very natural.  It’s a lot more natural than all the sugar and twice the caffeine, that’s for sure.


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