I don’t mean to scare anyone, but there are some things I’ve found about being over 40 that were not previously made known to me. And because I’m unabashedly helpful, I thought I’d share.
We all know about the forgetfulness, mispronunciations of common proper nouns, spontaneous blurting out of crabby political opinions, and no longer being able to make our own people and push them out from between our legs.
But here are some things about getting older that I bet you didn’t know.
No more deja vu and other mystical things
Remember when you were in your 20s and stuff happened to you that had no scientific explanation and it didn’t surprise you at all? Yeah, those things don’t happen once you’re past 40.
When I was in high school and college I had this weird visual thing that happened to me where I would be looking at something and suddenly it was as if I was going through a tunnel and my depth perception would get all freaky, and everything I saw was as if I was seeing it for the first time. And not like newborn baby first time. Like alien from another planet first time. Colors and shapes and - wait, alright, I realize this seems like I was on a PCP trip, so I’ll stop trying to explain it. Let’s just say I had a funky optical-brain thing that I experienced, and when I was in my late teens / early 20s I attributed it to my being on a higher spiritual level than the other Kent State sophomores. The point is, when it would happen I would revel in it a little bit and then go, “huh.” And then put on another Crosby Stills Nash & Young album with the arm up and out, and go about my life. Because when you’re young, everything is so relatively magical that when something truly magical happens you’re just all blasé about it.
I haven’t had my “eye thing” happen in many, many years. Nor have I had a deja vu. Remember them? You’d be sitting at the kitchen table and suddenly you could remember being at the same kitchen table with the exact same people. “Oh my god, I’m having a major deja vu,” you’d say, and you’d remember saying those exact words. And you’d remember the reaction. And the discussion about deja vus and what they really are. And you’d remember that your sister said that deja vus are what happened in a parallel universe and you’d remember that your dad said, “Shut up and eat.” In a 20-year-old’s deja vu, even the discussion about the deja vu is magical. When you’re 50 you don’t have the pleasure of reliving discussions about deja vu or anything else for that matter. Or maybe we do, but we just can’t remember them.
You’re not cute when you get drunk
This one happens gradually and you may not even know it’s happening, which makes it quite dangerous. A 24-year-old who stays at the bar too long is a party animal. A 42-year-old who stays at the bar too long is a sad bar hag. A 24-year-old who has two DUIs is sowing her wild oats. A 42-year-old who has even a brush with a DUI is just a dumbass. A 24-year-old with droopy eyelids and slurred words makes men want to have sex with her. A 42-year-old who as much as takes too long to slip off the barstool gracefully makes men want to get her a coffee and a cab, right after checking her phone to make sure he’s not in any photos with her. Getting drunk when you’re old is fine, but you have to sit quietly in a corner. You can’t interact with the public or you’re Foster Brooks.
No more good songs stuck in your head
Somewhere around 50, you stop getting good songs stuck in your head, and you start to find yourself humming obscure B-side songs that ‘70s pop singers still regret recording, songs that denigrate women, and Captain and Tennille hits. Many times the song stuck in your head is one for which you know not a single lyric so if you choose to open your mouth and let a little bit of it out, you sound like someone speaking in another language or Pearl Jam. Sometimes I get a song stuck in my head that doesn’t even exist, that I just made up by humming random notes to myself. It usually sounds like something Aunt Bea and Clara would sing around the old piano in the church basement.
No one listens to your advice because you sound like an old, bitter person full of regrets.
Young people don’t want to hear you tell them all the stuff that you’ve learned the hard way, the easy way, or any way for that matter. No one wants the benefit of your wisdom and experience. I’ve tried to impart sage advice like “always choose smart and nice over beautiful and sexy” and “say no to credit card debt” and “never mix bleach with ammonia” but I sound like some harpy who’s overly concerned with everyone being safe and happy. And no one - no one - wants to hear my reasons. (“Because beauty is subjective and fades, while smart and nice are for life,” “Because the interest is tantamount to taking a stack of five-dollar bills and throwing them out the car window” and “Because you’ll die.”)
When you try to give young people a heads up on life lessons to save them some horror and embarrassment, they just look at you like you’re old. You can tell they’re thinking that they will never be as old and obsolete are you are. And when you cackle, “You’ll see! When you’re my age, you’ll see, little missy,” that doesn’t work either.
There are, of course, more than four things that suck about getting old, but they involve using words like osteoarthritis, tax penalty, supplemental life insurance, pill cabinet, and I can’t eat that anymore. I like it, but it doesn’t like me. You can find more about that stuff on ThingsThatSuckAboutGettingOldThatEveryoneKnows.Blah.Blah.Blah.blog.com
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Find out more about Diane's book "Home Sweet Homes: How Bundt Cakes, Bubble Wrap, and My Accent Helped Me Survive Nine Moves" and read her other blog about moving adventures at www.HomeSweetHomesBook.com.