By Kaz Cooke

First published in The Age newspaper, and then in the book collection of columns ‘Get A Grip’ (1996, Penguin Australia), now out-of-print.

By way of warning, some awful stuff happens to you on the other side of thirty.

Truly Horrible Truth 1

You can no longer dance until five o'clock in the morning, take vast quantities of alcohol and at least two other restricted substances if you count tobacco, and I find these days one does, and then spring out of bed like a gilded lily ready for work. In fact, once you're over thirty, two glasses of alcoholic beverage is just this side of blathering-idlot land. Three glasses, university tests prove, in a woman over thirty causes her to whiffle on indelicately until she empties the room or crashes insensible into the shrubbery, utterly giltless.

Truly Horrible Truth 2

You turn into a raving pervert in ill-fitting slingbacks. This is because your feet get bigger as you get older and also because of the fact that you just honestly turn into a slathering sleaze of a woman for no apparent reason apart from the aforementioned overthirtyness.

For example/ you may have spent some conversations or your life deploring the way that women are consistently portrayed as sex objects in advertising and other media. Once you are over thirty this will not stop you moaning ‘Oh, God, yes, yes, yes!' when you watch the Richmond Players run onto the MCC in some rather new-fashioned nylon shorts that inevitably give rise to grave concerns about chafing.

In fact, you may find, if you are a straight Modern Girl over thirty, that your interest soars in any team sports involving partly clothed Adoni and of course the noble tradition of the game. You will also begin noticing that police constables are uniformly twelve years old but that male fire officers hold a fascination that is not so much about arson but sheer light-headed girly worship.

I’m not saying this is right. I'm just warning you, in case you’re not yet thirty. I don't want you to be any more rudely shocked than you have to be. You will by then have worked out that it's best to sleep with someone you can have a conversation with, but this will not stop you salivating in public in a most unseemly way. (lt is no good pretending that your appreciation is merely artistic. They can see right through us.)

Truly Horrible Truth 3

On the other side of thirty there is a moustache waiting.
And maybe a wee little beard, and possibly other tufty bits of a slightly disconcerting nature. Luckily it is probably hardly noticeable unless you go into one of those public toilets with 356,000 watt Kleig fluoro lighting that make you look like Godzilla and then incidentally when you go into the cubicle the toilet roll dispenser is completely encased in a metal rectangle and you have to poke up through a little slot with your fingertip and awkwardly twist around the toilet roll until you can grab an end and then you pull it gently, gently through the slot and after 2 centimetres it breaks, snap! Why would anyone design a thing like that? Anyway, one of the things that happens over thirty is that your concentration begins to wander.

Truly Horrible Truth 4

Because of substance abuse and anaesthetic administered willy-nilly during your twenties you will find there are three brain cells left: Francine, Ern and Brenda. Francine does the right side of the brain, Ernie the left, and Brenda knows where the keys are. We mourn the tragic passing of lan, who used to put names to faces. (Ian, you’ll recall, or not, was lost during the hideous Tia Maria Incident.)

Frankly, that's the great thing about being in your thirties - you've really found who you are: a mohair-faced slavering gasbag two-pot screamer flat-footed bore. What a relief.

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