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Aging? Not an option...

July 18, 2012

I understand that with the impending doom of global warming, economic recession and avian flu that looms ever over our heads and the other countries’ laughing at or terrorizing or poisoning us I should speak on matters more pressing than petty. But I am a woman — so please indulge the worries of my troubled mind.
While global turmoils rage on I am getting old. “They” tell us to “age gracefully” but I intend to go down, as with any battle, kicking and screaming.
The trouble with growing old I’ve found is that while we are aware of the passing of time, it goes by so fluidly that huge chunks of it pile up on us and then sneakily disappear.
One day, you’re changing diapers on your friend’s child’s bottom, then (seemingly) a couple years pass and the next thing you know your (ex)husband is dating the babe. You just memorize all the words to the songs of that favorite band of yours and you sing along (flawlessly) on the radio just to hear them label the tune a “classic rock” hit or a “blast from the past.”
And because I’m addressing music here, I’ll go with the latest event that “rocked” my world-aging music legends. You know you’re getting old when you see the guy you waited three hours after the concert for, so you could scream as he slapped hands (one of them one yours and which you swear to never wash) on the way to his tour bus on the TV and he looks like somebody’s grandpa.
He has a beer belly, wrinkles, gray hair and a voice that only gives testament to why chain-smoking is not really cool after all. I saw Barry Gibb from the Bee Gees an would have recognized him but ran from him rather than at him for an autograph. Paul McCartney is what, like 70?
And have you seen Kenny Rogers lately? His skin is so medically taught I can hear it screaming.
On that same note you either see folks taking aging on or battling it to obsession. Take Joan Rivers, whose addiction to plastic surgery has her looking like a ghoulie mask you try on for Halloween or what about Burt Reynolds, whose once charming smile now more resembles a garishly grinning mannequin?
I wonder how much makeup they really used on Robert Redford (because it looks like an entire bottle) and Shawn Connery and Indiana Jones look like altered versions of the Cryptkeeper. I look in the mirror and ask my wrinkling, graying reflection, “Why do they look so old?”
Maybe it is because I don’t see a reflection of a 44-year-old woman, I just see me. Why does the progression of time seem so sudden and obvious when I see it on someone else’s face? Maybe its because when I keep getting those AARP fliers and newsletters in the mail (Dear Lord, people, I am NOT that old — save a tree and leave me be) I don’t feel it. Why is it recently that I’ve accepted the epiphany of the realization that I’m more close to that AARP age guideline than away from it than I’d like to admit.
Maybe its because everyone that waits on me or takes my blood looks like they’re 15 and when I order a drink, the wait staff not only doesn’t even humor me by asking for an I.D. but rather appears like they should be providing one. I’ll never forget my first brush with Father Time.
My youngest daughter saw a record album at an auction and said to my son, “Wow! Look how big the CDs were back then!” When I showed them what it was played on they were beside themselves with wonder.
How sad is it that my kids have never had to save up coins they’ve scrounged to walk six blocks to play Space Invaders or just to watch over the shoulder of someone else? How sad that they’ve never had to rewind a cassette tape using a pencil shoved through the wheel hole or had to manipulate antenna so one of the five television channels come in with relatively little fuzz.
At a Christmas dinner at my family’s house (four years ago now — though it feels like last year) my sister and I went to my brothers state-of-the-art kitchen to get things ready. After we both stared at the stove as if it was something that just fell from the sky I turned to her and said in my best old-hillbilly voice what we were both thinking, “These confounded contraptions have too many gizmos!”
We laughed at ourselves and then watched in awe as our mother swiftly came in and flawlessly mastered the buttons. The true damage of time was made most obvious to me when I heard that AARP had sought out entertainment for their annual convention and were hoping to secure the hiring of REO Speedwagon and KISS.
I thought it was a joke.
It wasn’t.
Furthermore, the radio announcer went on to say that the artist formerly and now, presently, known as Prince had to have a hip replaced. Do you think he’ll wear those high-heeled boots while using his walker?

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