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‘Hanoi Jane’ Fonda thinks she’s a Virgin?!

August 18, 2011

Jane Fonda strode briskly onto the stage of 92Y and quickly confessed, “I’m a virgin.”

It’s hard to say what made a more immediate impression, her svelte black-suit clad figure (much smaller in person) with shimmering shell and sparkling lariat necklace, or the brightness of her speech, easy humor and absolute candor.

Looking blonder than she’s been in recent months, Jane Fonda overrode her entrance applause to blurt out, vis-a-vis the “virgin” comment, that she’s never given a speech about her book before.

In truth, I had expected a conversation, as I’ve seen so many times on the 92Y stage: Tom Brokaw with Simon Schama, Sarah Jessica Parker with Leonard Lopate, Helen Mirren and Taylor Hackford, etc.

But in perfect symbolism, on the first day of the launch of her new book, Prime Time (Random House), Jane Fonda stood at the podium alone, fully shouldering responsibility for her latest endeavor.

Except, she’d forgotten her reading glasses. Chuckles of recognition rippled through the crowd of mostly “third age” women and men. She grinned as she admitted that during the course of composing the book on her laptop, she’d gone from a size 14 font to size 18.

Although her speech was penned, she extemporized easily and often on all the ways she has arrived at her new-found place of peace, wisdom, and happiness.

What is the Third Act?
“I’m not immune to aging,” Jane Fonda admitted. “I’ve got a fake knee and a fake hip…” but she also noticed she was happier in the decade between 60 and 70. Perhaps because she suggested, it’s much easier being “inside oldness, as opposed to looking at it from the outside.”

At 73, Jane Fonda defines the third age in terms of a play’s acts; the Third Act starts at 60 – when Acts 1 and 2 start to hang together and it all begins to make sense, if you’re lucky. But you have a little work to do to get there in style and with serenity.Picasso was right, she quipped,’It takes a long time to become young.'”

Jane Fonda is also adamant about the contributions Third Agers bring to the table. The numbers of service volunteers are astonishing, she said.Companies who keep a senior workforce have better bottom lines.”

The ‘greedy geezer’ impression still lingers, she said ruefully, but “we contribute enormously,” so “respect us, with policies that make our lives easier and healthier… We have the numbers to demand it.”

Her favorite time: “Right Now.”

Jane Fonda may feel like she’s in virgin territory in this New Age of aging, but she’s a creative cartographer, blazing a trail for us all.

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