The Perfect Age by Heather SkylerA sun-baked, beautifully observed debut—a mother and daughter come of age in Las Vegas.
Helen is just fifteen, lanky and striking. She is a lifeguard at the pool at the Dunes hotel in Las Vegas, caught off guard by the new attention from men and boys, not quite sure of her own footing in the world. Her mother, Kathy, suddenly finds herself in a place equally uncertain: her children getting older, her stable marriage perhaps too stable, the slow days of summer leaving her adrift. When Kathy meets Helen’s boss, the manager at the pool, her life is on the brink of a different sort of change.
Following Helen and Kathy through three summers, this novel is an intimate picture of two sexual awakenings under one roof and their aftershocks on a family. The Perfect Age is set in workaday Las Vegas, where people are married at drive-through chapels, and escort services are advertised alongside 99-cent shrimp cocktail. The novel takes the reader beyond the glitz of showgirls and Elvis impersonators and reveals the everyday life in homes and schools, and among the lukewarm waters of Lake Mead and the semi-cool of the surrounding mountains. In The Perfect Age, Heather Skyler explores the nature of beauty, sex, and class divisions in a society where things are at once normal and bizarre, showing us that the validity of life’s deepest experiences—love, betrayal, acceptance—is never compromised by age.
No Matter How Old You Are, You Are the Perfect Age!
The ideal age is a question that Jay Olshansky thinks about often. Olshansky, an epidemiologist, is researching ways to slow down the process of aging, by studying things like the genetics of long-lived individuals. He asks his university students this question. Many think 30 is old, so they would take the pill in their 20s. He asked his father, then 95 years old. His father said 50 was the best year because the kids were grown and he was in good health. Olshanky, 63, says life is good for him now, but if he had to pick a perfect year, it would probably be 50, too, because that was before he started having little aches and pains.
Much to the amusement of our younger colleagues, apparently this column is a thing now, which led fellow Esquire Old Guy Luke O'Neil and me into a conversation about the notion of age. What is age, really? Or more specifically: What's the best one? When are you in your prime? And exactly how far past it am I, a man in his forties who is afraid of teenagers? This week, Luke and I met in the bingo parlor to answer, once and for all: What is the best age? We can say right off the bat that the only way to accurately and confidently answer this question is to have experienced every age possible.
Calculating the ideal age is not as simple as it sounds. There is a relatively high level of consensus on the best overall age. When YouGov asked the question in Germany and the US, the average ideal ages given were 37 and 34 respectively. When it comes to the ideal age in terms of wisdom 51 , the average age per generation ranges only from 49 to With physical health each age group tend to bend the ideal towards their own age, but the physical ideal falls within the range. What would you give to turn the clock back?
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My lower back aches and my knees sometimes dangerously buckle if they bend too far. Oh to be 25 again! Having more time to spend with our little one is priceless, especially the first five years before kindergarten. We were shown a series of graphs like the ones below regarding decreasing fertility rates and increasing miscarriage rates as a woman ages. Meanwhile, the fertility rate slumps from roughly to per married women.
Thirty is the perfect age. Homework, chores, mile-long runs for PE credit? The perfect age. I dwelled on that prediction during my tween years, imagining what it would could? I envisioned the adult version of me commanding a class of students as the teacher I was most definitely going to become. I pictured that older me reveling in the kind of freedom I was perpetually chasing after as a kid. And I hoped that by 30, my parents would mostly be barred from telling me what time to go to bed.