Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Secret of Being Old


I guess it was bound to happen. I’ve been dodging this bullet for a while, walking around with my fingers in my ears while I sing that catchy tune, “la la la la la! I can’t hear you!”

I just found out I’m old. I know, right?! Can you believe that? You should have seen me drop my bifocals when I heard it.

I can’t understand how the secret got out. After all, I spend an awful lot of my husband’s hard earned cash camouflaging whatever terrifying color is hiding under these jazzy red curls just so people will have to ask themselves, “Does she or doesn’t she . . . have an updated will?”

It’s not like I don’t try to take care of myself. I had my second ever facial yesterday and the aesthetician (who looks my daughter’s age . . . hmm) never once called any of my freckles “age spots.” She may have mentioned that “as we grow older” we need more hydrating, but I thought she was recommending the bottled water I got from the cute staff of teenagers at the front counter--the kids who called me “honey” and “sweetie” when I checked out. They sure were nice.

And I know it wasn’t any wrinkles that gave it away. One of my buddies moved up a little higher on my best friend list last week when she told me I have a baby face. How could a baby faced woman my age be old? She didn’t have her glasses on when she said it, and I did immediately pick up the lunch tab, but still—I know it’s true. I figured out a while ago that wrinkles don’t show as much if they’re fluffed up with . . . fluff. So I ordered dessert for both of us that day. That poor little skinny thing – she could do with a little more fluffing herself. (You didn’t hear that from me.)

I decided to do a little investigating. And since I’ve recently gone a’bloggin’, I figured I should look for clues in my bio. People can get the wrong idea from the most innocent sounding words, you know.

Grandmother. Okay. Well, I'll admit that certainly sounds old. Actually, I’m known ‘round these parts as YaYa since “grand” anything sounds elderly to me and I refuse to use it to identify myself. Hence, I am NOT known as GrandYaYa. Therefore, I am not old.

Movies I Like
. Yeah, there are some pretty old titles in there. For example, “While You Were Sleeping.” If you’ve never seen it, you might think it’s about that old guy with the long, long beard who fell asleep for a hundred years, and when he woke up everyone else was dead and he was the only person alive, or maybe that’s the original version of Sleeping Beauty?? I don’t mind being called a sleeping beauty, though. I’ve been taking a few more naps lately.

Interests: Starbucks. Hey, lots of young people hang out there with me (see, ‘hang out’ is a cool expression, right? Is ‘cool’ still a cool expression?) Of course, they all call me m’am and hold the door for me and smile patiently when I use phrases like ‘hang out’. Or maybe they’re just snickering because some of my body parts that used to hang in are now . . . hanging out . . . or down . . . hmmm . . .

And there’s a photo on that bio. But it’s kind of a sexy photo in a Well That’s The Best Picture We Can Expect To Get Of You At Your Age kind of way . . . I don’t think it makes me look old. Then again, it is an old picture. I guess if I was being really honest with myself, I’d have to admit it has been a long time since I was a kid. I mean, in dog years, it’s been so long, by now I’d have been dead at least twice. And I’d definitely call a dog who lived twice his expected lifetime “old.”

Ohmigosh, it’s true. I AM old. Poor Rob. He could trade me in for two twenty’s now that I’m past forty, but it’s too late for him, too. He’s not wired for 220. He'd blow a fuse.

The thing is, inside this imposter body there’s a young woman who still feels 29. Which is not actually my chronological age, of course. That would be physically impossible since my son just turned 30 on Sunday. I did have him early, though. Two weeks early. Still, no one is more surprised than me when I walk by a mirror and realize a middle-aged woman is horning in on my reflection. Where did she come from? I love her hair color, though.

I know I’m not alone in this discovery. I hang out with a few old friends who are also being stalked by a mature likeness of themselves. And we’ve come to a surprising conclusion over our Early Bird Specials—growing older ain’t all bad. After all, we’ve earned every hidden gray hair and fat-fluffed wrinkle. We’ve outlived our mothers’ conflicting prophecies. (“Stop sitting so close to that tv or you’ll go blind . . . and eat your carrots so you can see in the dark.”) We’ve survived the birth, the middle, and the empty nest exits of our children. And now we get to enjoy the reward for not following through on our death threats to our kids – grandparenting.

I think the best way to view life’s portrayal of our extensive experience is to take it as a compliment. After all, in the words of an old person who forgot to take credit for them, “Do not regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many.”

I know wisdom when I see it. I wasn’t born yesterday, you know.

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