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It wasn't so bad turning 40 until I discovered I was no longer considered a prime candidate for a Snickers bar, but was more likely to be shopping for a GE Profile Performance oven so I could "nourish and nurture my family" with a hearty bowl of Campbell's soup (being the 35+ gatekeeper I'm supposed to be). Unless I'm the one-in- four women over 40 who's still single.

Then I'd probably be heating up Soup for One in my GE Profile Performance microwave while spooning Fancy Feast into a crystal goblet for my feline friend (the only one who'll stick with me through these 35-55 Lean Cuisine years). And while waiting for my Metamucil to work, I'd amuse myself with a Hallmark card from my co-workers expressing their concern about the results of my latest mammogram.

To keep my mind off the fact that tomorrow I might be the one-in-seven women to get breast cancer but probably not the one-in-eight to snag a husband, I'd open the freezer and fill this anxious void (usually occupied by soccer practice and PTA meetings) with Healthy Choice Rocky Road ice cream because it only has three grams of fat. Of course I'd be watching my weight because I'm a woman and I'm over 40 and it's all downhill from here.

Unless I'm the one-in-15 women who uses a Stairmaster at least three times week. In that case, I'd need an energy boost so I'd reach for a Milky Way Lite until I realized I'd have to be 25-34 to appreciate one of those. Then I'd grab a Pepsi, but the store owner would probably give me a weird look that says, "You can't fool me. You're not a male, 18-24, who's feisty, bold and youthful in spirit." So I'd opt for a Gatorade. But it would hit me a like a garbage can full of the stuff that those amino acids are meant for the fit and toned body of an 18-35 guy, or at least a professional female athlete with an overabundance of male hormones -- not a 40-year-old woman, no matter how fit and toned she may be.

I'd finally settle on a 12-ounce can of Ensure, some Rolaids with calcium supplements, since I'm undoubtedly deficient, and a box of Clairol hair color to conceal the gray and the fact that I'm in this depressing demographic to begin with.

After the chemicals transformed me into a "natural woman," I'd put on some sensible shoes and trot off to the latest Jane Austen movie to pass the time before menopause and osteoporosis set in. But as I bought a ticket with my single female income (that's 28 percent less than that of a comparable male), I'd feel happy. Because I'm only 22 years away from paying half price. I can't wait till I'm 62!

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