This is Getting Old

Age is just a number.”

“You’re only as old as you feel.”

“It’s the new 30.”

“You look great. For your age.”

There’s nothing cuter than someone trying to pretend that getting old is not a big deal. Of course it’s a big deal. Don’t go acting like you don’t mind. We all mind. We just handle it in different ways.

I continue to use my secret formula of immaturity x (irresponsible behavior [bid] + keeping a MySpace page)  in order to stave off old age. I bite my cuticles, laugh at inappropriate times, and try to say What up when the occasion calls for it.

But try as we might to act young and dye our hair (others go even further, but removing wrinkles doesn’t make you look younger, folks, it just makes you look less wrinkly in a smooth, creepy way) we can’t avoid the fact that we’re getting older.

The longer you’re on this earth, the more adult-like things keep happening around you, whether you like it or not.

A friend of mine who was the liveliest, funniest, happiest-go-luckiest person, particularly on St. Patrick’s Day, is now in prison for taking judicial bribes. Some of my contemporaries have Facebook profile pictures of people with a shock of white hair, or of their grandchild. My nephew is the president of a company. Two of my sisters are the R word. About 75 percent of the people I know have 401k’s and most of them actually know what they are. I know way too many people in the obituaries and not enough in the weddings and births. And all of the people mentioned above are wearing reading glasses.

It’s getting ridiculous. What good is it to work so hard at saying young when all the people with whom I want to stay young are getting old?

My sister says she may join me in New York for a few days this summer, because she needs a quick trip to somewhere hip to snap her out of a phase of doctor visits and early dinners. “We might as well be living in La Boca Vista,” she said. I don’t know what La Boca Vista is, but it sounds like there’s prune juice in the refrigerator and an emergency call button in the shower.

You look in the mirror and see your mom’s face looking back at you. When you walk a lot, your hips start to hurt long before you can get shin splints. You find yourself stopping and looking in the window of the Naturalizer store. One day you plop down on the floor and you realize you can no longer sit with your legs crossed. And then you realize you plopped down on the floor to do a puzzle with somebody who was born the same year Ace Young was on American Idol.

Try telling your kids that you still feel like you’re 18. When they stop choking on their Red Bull, they’ll tell you not only are you nothing like an 18-year-old, they can’t even picture you as an 18-year-old in the ‘70s.

“Yeah, well I was.”

“Really?” They look at me skeptically. What do they think, I was born a homely middle-aged woman? I didn’t have veins in my legs, moles in unsightly places, and mousy hair when I was your age, Missies. I think they’re just trying to draw out of me some stories of a wild youth. My daughter reads Beat writers and Hunter Thompson. She thinks being young in the ‘60s and ‘70s was the stuff legends are made of.

I’m not taking the bait. But I do tell them to enjoy being young now, even though I know that makes me sound - yeah, old. We’re all defined for life by what we were in high school and in our early 20s. It’s the self your old friends will remember when they find you on the Internet 30 years later. It’s the self we try to get back to when getting old sucks. So it would behoove the heck out of young people to do lots of cool stuff now - be a really awesome young person - so when you’re trying to hang onto your youth you’ll have something worth fighting for. Like someone saying, “You look great. For your age.”

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