A few posts ago, I wrote a bit about aging and my struggle to accept the harsh reality that not only am I getting older every day, but that I’m going to continue to do so for the rest of my life..
Remember how long things used to take? The march to birthday number sixteen took forever, but finally getting your hands on that driver’s license was well worth it. And for a while, you didn’t even mind that you became to go-to person for family and household errands. You could have been handed a shopping list for a Immodium, Depends, Preparation-H, Vagisil, Ducolax, Pamprin, Lotrimin, Monistat, Odor Eaters, Stool Softener, Glycerine suppositories and a selection of douches from the Summer’s Eve Spring Fragrance collection, and you’d happily fill that order as long as you got to drive to the pharmacy to do it.
Turning eighteen was the next big milestone that seemed beyond the horizon and just out of reach. But again, the rewards that came along with being an adult — making your own decisions, setting your own schedule, going where you wanted with whom you wanted — made the destination worth the journey.
I’m kidding, of course. Being eighteen makes you eligible to vote, join the military and be tried in adult court rather than the juvenile division (it’s pretty much the legal equivalent of moving to the grown-up table at Thanksgiving), but no one takes you seriously or considers you a real adult until you’re at least 30. You’re only allowed to drink at 21 because a) you’ve already been drinking for years, so making it legal is just a formality, and b) it makes it easier to deal with the realization that despite having been an adult for the past three years, your mother is still telling you to put on a sweater when she’s cold.
But after 21, it’s as though time has discovered meth and is taking you along for the ride. Before 21, when there are age-associated things to look forward to, time moves at the agonizingly slow pace of the last week of school before summer vacation. After 21, when there are age-associated things to tolerate, at best (menopause, mammograms, gray hair and, if 95% of TV commercials are to be believed, prostate and penis related horrors), time slips into summer vacation mode and starts whizzing by faster than you can keep up with it. And each year it just picks up more speed.
If time moved for kids and younger people at the same pace it does for those of us rushing pell-mell down the other side of the hill, you’d drop your kid off at pre-school in the morning and pick her up from high school graduation in the afternoon.
Back when I didn’t think about age, I figured my lack of concern was was due, at least in part, to being a lesbian and not concerned with some of the milestones or goals that seem to trouble many of my straight compadres. I didn’t enter into my first seriously serious relationship until just before I turned 30, but it never bothered me that I only dated other girls for, at most, a year or so. But I also never had people on my ass about when I was going to get married or start popping out grandbabies. When you don’t have other people constantly reminding you that you’re lagging behind in the relationship/family area, you don’t think so much about age because you aren’t failing to meet arbitrary goals set by society and bridal magazines.
And it doesn’t seem to be something that some in the hetero-normative majority are willing to let go. I’ve got straight friends who, like me, are past child-bearing years and well into the freedom zone, but still feel pressure to get married, or remarried. In 2008, when same-sex marriage wasn’t legal-legal in California, but legal-enough, I married the woman I met when I was almost 30 and had been with for the 15 years since then. Then, just shy of two years later we got divorced; because more than half of marriages in America end in divorce and I am nothing if not a good American.
So while being a lesbian means I wasn’t subjected to the constant reminders that the clock was ticking despite my failure to get any younger; I’m noticing other reminders of age and the accelerated pace of the inevitable march toward death that even my alternative lifestyle can’t protect me from. If you aren’t sure whether you’ve moved into the “getting older” camp yet, take a look at the list below. If things sound familiar or relate-able, welcome to my side of the hill! Your brakes won’t work here …
– Are the songs used in TV commercials not just familiar, but ones you danced to, cranked up and probably even got yelled at a few times to turn-down. Salt-N-Pepa are hawking GEICO insurance with Push It, Billy Idol and Mony Mony are now associated with Nissan, The Clash is asking if we should stay or we should go to Choice Hotels and Queen … QUEEN!!! … can be enjoyed during Weight Watcher commercials. That last one just kills me …
– Speaking of music, have you stopped watching (or caring about) the Grammy’s or do you still watch only to find yourself asking, “Who the hell is that?” every time someone performs or wins an award?
– Do you call the TV remote “the clicker”? There are actually three levels here – those who have never heard it called a clicker (they are known as “children”), those who sometimes say clicker but aren’t sure why, and those of us who not only say it but remember when the name made sense. We also make that circular, cranking hand-motion when we want someone to lower their car window.
– Do you have friends or associates who don’t understand or appreciate your clever pop-culture references like “You’re gonna need a bigger boat,” “Cut me, Mick,” and “Don’t get cocky,” because they hadn’t been born yet when Jaws, Rocky and Star Wars were released?
– Is getting “carded” a hassle or a buzz-kill? Or is it an event to be celebrated and bragged about for days on Facebook?
– Do you ever hear yourself say something like “That was at least at least 30 years go…” and then realize with horror that the phrase “30 years ago” no longer references your childhood?
– Have you ever promised yourself that you’re not going to be one of those people who sits around griping about getting old?
– Have you written two blog posts in two months griping about getting old?
If I keep this up, I’m going to need an intervention, people. Because at this rate, it won’t be long before I start posting about goiters and corns and varicose veins, whether Ben Gay is better than Icy Hot, or if the superior Early Bird Special can be had at Norm’s or Denny’s. And I don’t want to write about that stuff anymore than you want to read it.
I know I can’t avoid becoming an old lady, but I’d at least like to be a cool old lady.
Just like Steven Tyler …
Great post!!!! I finally embraced my gray and stopped dying my hair!
You’re a braver woman than I … or at least a more secure, less neurotic one. Either way, I salute you and hope one day to follow the gray path you’re blazing.
Thanks! My partner is the one who encouraged me to go gray. I had been dying my hair for year and was dying it when we met. She would mention that I would look good with gray and I would listen, but still dyed my hair. I finally realized that my dye jobs just weren’t looking that great and so I stopped dying my hair at the beginning of last summer. I am a teacher so I had the summer for it to grow out. When I went back to work I was complimented on my hair. It is actually “salt and pepper” in look so it has turned out pretty good. I am only 48 and started graying at 30, and now I guess the color fits my age!
Heh. Steven Tyler is a lady.
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I wish my hair was greying like his so I could pull off the “messy bun” …
It hurts when I catch myself humming along with whatever awesome song is playing in my doctors office. Then I remember that the song was awesome 30 years ago and now it’s piped into an office.
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Doctors offices and elevators, where great music goes to die …
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My measure of defeat is the festival lineups. Up until a few years ago, I could nod in recognition of at least the name of whatever new retro-indie-thrashcore duos were in the lineup. Now, it’s gibberish. But I read recently that we stop caring about new music at about age 32. I’m closing in on 50, so I feel I’ve had a good run.
Also: saying phrases like “had a good run.”
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I think I officially attended my last festival last year when all I thought about was wanting to leave because it was too loud and there were too many people.