58 and Holding
Posted on October 6th, 2016, by iMinerva
I know I’m overly sensitive to ageism and the stereotypes associated with “maturity.” Statements like “Can you believe, she’s 70 and training to run a marathon?’ Or, “She really looks good for her age. She’s over 60, you know. Do you think she’s had work done? I’d like to know who her plastic surgeon is – for future reference.” “She’s 82 and still driving!”
I find myself being offended at the grocery store when a young bagger asks if I need help to the car – with a jug of milk, ice cream, cookies, a loaf of bread and a bag of prunes. I realize it’s company policy but really – do I seem that feeble or was it the prunes?
It seems to me that once you hit a certain age, often the magic 60, society expects less of you – physically, mentally, and socially. There are less invitations to the cool parties hosted by younger friends. Surprise becomes a common reaction to your action. “You’re on Match.com? Do you think you should be dating at your age? Can you still ‘do It?'”
Even the doctors expect less of you. I was told during an eye exam that I had “old eye” – I was 40. My dentist recommends procedures that should last at least 10 years, thinking that’s all I really need. My internist is filling me with vitamins to help encourage “vitality.” And my new plastic surgeon (I had a carcinoma removed from my leg and needed his expertise), offered information on Juvederm to plump those deep lines by the mouth.
The last thing I need is to admit to a specific age. A number only reinforces perceptions and creates further diminishing expectations – or worse – it generates surprise, shock and awe. “No, not really… You can’t be! You seem so young, so active, so with it!” “Wow, what’s your secret to the fountain of youth?” “My Aunt Milly was a year younger when she died and she seemed really ‘olde.'”
Maybe the decision to hold at 58 is simply self-delusional. You are what you think. My mother, who died at 96, always thought of herself as much younger and, as a result, conveyed a sense of youthfulness. She had a small plaque prominentally hanging in the kitchen that read, “I count my life by smiles, not tears. I count my age by friends, not years.” I really believe our “mental age” is far more important than the traditional chronologic or calendar age.
So if you’re wondering how old I really am – go with 58. That’s much older than my Mental Age but it probably is more believable than 33.
Now where did I put those prunes?