Leafpeepers and the Fall

By Susan DeBow

Leafpeepers and the Fall

I am a middle-aged woman. (Yes, I am. I heard recently a 120-something died. I am sure of it – or maybe 114, which is close enough.)

I just returned from a trip to New England, where a majority of middle-aged women and a few left-over men trot in October in order to qualify for their induction into the National Order of Leafpeepers and Saggy Butts Association.


In my fifties I noticed that my peers were losing their lips. Now, in my sixties, I realize we are losing another piece of our bodies: our butts.

I figured out the lip issue. We swallowed them. That was easy. But, finding a lost or sagging butt is a bit more of a puzzle. Lips are pretty easy to swallow, but a butt has to go somewhere.

Now, I have seen some fallen butts, the kind that don’t totally disappear, but hang on one’s backside by a bungee cord. The formerly nice curve has become a small ledge, a shelf that could hold a butterfly hairclip or paintbrush.

I have also seen some formerly nicely-rounded butts that seem to have joined the military and have squared up and risen to the waist. From behind, this kind of butt looks quite formidable. These butts are very bad for shopping as they get out of control and battery-ram displays throughout the store. They are very good for cutting in line, as they can injure when used with full force.

On some women, I have figured out where their once rounded butt has gone. It has split and rotated to the sides of the hips, creating somewhat of a double-bubble of hip and butt. These women tend to wear double-knit dresses to accentuate what they believe is a tiny waist. The double bubble usually falls beneath the edge of the mirror so these women don’t know they are really walking around with enough width on their backside to write the entire Declaration of Independence.

Many of the women I saw in New England appear to have sat on a travel bus for a large portion of their adult lives. I watched as many climbed down from the bus. All I could picture was the naked man, Samantha, in Sex in the City, was contemplating having an affair with until he strode, naked, to the bathroom. Loose skin hung and wiggled with each step.

Samantha bolted.

I snickered at these women, believing they must all be a good thirty years older than I am. I felt quite smug. That is, until I saw my reflection in the window of a store next to the bus. Quickly, I reached around to try to grab my butt. I was sure it would still be high and dry, round and firm.

My butt wasn’t there!

And, it was neither round nor firm.

Instead, I found a hunk of flesh hanging on my hips and atop my hips. There was also a good amount of a former butt on my thighs. Not to mention the part of my butt that seemed to have crept up my back. My butt had divided and conquered. It had moved around like a well-trained militia, setting up camp around the perimeter.

It shouldn’t have come as a surprise to me since all of this summer I marveled that I didn’t have to undo the zipper or button of my pants to pull them down. I thought I had lost weight, but, apparently, I hadn’t. Simply put, my butt had gone missing. And now, I had found it.

I am beginning to think that like so many other things, we don’t miss our butts until they are gone. When we are young it is so easy to overlook our assets, to just see our flaws. In many ways, I am still like that. There is a part of me that says, oh, don’t worry about it. Be glad to be alive. There is also a part of me that sees the passing of time, the loss of not just youth, but a middle age that is shifting into somewhere between senior status and mortality.

Yes, I can laugh at myself as my lips disappear and my butt regroups and my chin grows mischievous hair and my shoulders round. But there is also a part of me that wants to wear a button where my sagging breast once was, that says, “I used to be young and pretty like you.”

Many might say I should just be thankful for my health, and that I should be glad to be alive. Amen to that. But, even in this wisdom that we acquire as we age, there are vanities that poke us and prod us into discomforting and disconcerting thoughts.

Will people who never saw me when I was in my prime only see me as a sagging skin and lipless vessel of the past? Will they know that I once had eyes that men commented on and a concave stomach that sported bikinis? Is it worth saying that once my legs didn’t have varicose veins and rocked short shorts? Will anyone remember that at one time I led the charge in the workplace and had careers that people dream of?

Or will people just see me as another of the boomer generation who has lost her lips, her butt and any day now, maybe her memory or value as a human?

Time will tell how this all works out. How others will see and react to me. Right now, I will accept that I have swallowed my lips and that my butt has turned into butter. But I can’t dwell on it too long as I have too much planning to do for my next career – real estate. So, look out world, this lipless, butt-less, used to be pretty gal is going to take charge and take names!

About this writer

  • Susan Hipkins DeBow Susan Hipkins DeBow is a writer and artist. A hobby of hers is watching Law and Order reruns and then going around telling people she wants to make a “collar on the perps,” and demands a “remand.” She got hooked on Law and Order reruns after seeing Seinfeld reruns 20 times. You can read Susan’s work and see her art, photography and miscellaneous miscellany at www.ohiowritergirl.com If you are nice, she’d like to be your friend on facebook. Go to her Facebook page, Ohio Writer Girl.

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2 Responses to “Leafpeepers and the Fall”

  1. Susan, I am laughing out loud here in St. Louis. You have nailed it. Now if only we could nail our hineys back in place. This was great!

  2. Rose Ann says:

    Loved this–great essay, Susan. You (and I) are not alone!!!

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