How Dungeons and Dragons showed me how to be okay with aging.
I’m not a young woman anymore. There. I said it. I’m starting to get wrinkles around my eyes, I get the odd gray hair every now and then, and my boobs just aren’t the same anymore. And I have a stiff black hair growing out of my chin that returns no matter how diligent I am about plucking it. The fact is, I’m not an old woman but I’m getting there. Quickly.
And all around me, ads and influencers and media tell me that I should be doing everything I can to halt this process. To stop it in its tracks with makeup, expensive creams, Botox, and even plastic surgery. It’s like I’m not allowed to get old or show that I’m aging. If I am not young and beautiful, if I do not appear fuckable, I have no value in society. As a woman, I have but one of two choices.
A: I can do what all the magazines, commercials, and ads are telling me to do and invest a ton of time and money into trying to fix the inevitable.
B: I can get annoyed with all of society’s pressure and just do what I like.
I choose Option B. In short, I’m going to become a hag.
See, I love Dungeons & Dragons. More than anything, I love being the Dungeon Master and running games. One day, I was flipping through the Monster Manual, trying to come up with a fun yet challenging new encounter for my players when I happened upon the entry for the Green Hag.
At first, the hag seems exactly like what you would think. From the Monster Manual, 5th Edition:
“Hags represent all that is evil and cruel. Though they resemble withered crones, there is nothing mortal about these monstrous creatures, whose forms reflect only the wickedness in their hearts.”
“The wretched and hateful green hags dwell in dying forests, lonely swamps, and misty moors, making their homes in caves.”
Okay, nothing unexpected here. Evil witch of the woods. Gotcha. But as I read on, I grew more and more interested.
“All hags possess magical powers, and some have an affinity for spellcasting. They can alter their forms or curse their foes, and their arrogance inspires them to view their magic as a challenge to the magic of the gods, whom they blaspheme at every opportunity.”
But then this passage sealed the deal.
“Hags propagate by snatching and devouring human infants. After stealing a baby from its cradle or its mother’s womb, the hag consumes the poor child. A week later, the hag gives birth to a daughter who looks human until her thirteenth birthday, whereupon the child transforms into the spitting image of her hag mother. A hag might return the child to its grieving parents, only to watch from the shadows as the child grows up to be a horror.”
Is that me? Is that what’s happening, only extremely delayed? Am I facing my fate and becoming what I was meant to be all along?
Is that why that one chin hair keeps growing back overnight?
The more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea of Dungeons and Dragons hags. The concept of a solitary old woman living in the woods, studying sorcery, collecting weird trinkets, tricking adventurers, and being as ugly as she wanted to be really appealed to me.
Yeah, sure, I don’t actually want to curse anyone or steal their souls, but I want the freedom to be old, wrinkled, and wise. To be content on my own. To turn some disrespectful young man into a pig if I want.
A hag can dream.