The Rage of Age: Complaints and Quarrels from a Committed Crank
Youth would be an ideal state if it came a little later in life. (Herbert Henry Asquith)
The other day as I was driving out to Red Rocks to hike (okay, okay, trudge) 2400 steps in preparation for an upcoming mountain climb in Africa, I was thinking about the realities of aging.
At 65, and staring down the barrel at 66 (which forces you to stare down the barrel at 70, holy shit Batman), every so often I am filled with a kind of mildly pissed-off wonder at how the hell I got so old.
Now mind you, I don’t feel it. Hard work, exercise, good food and lively companionship as well as a purpose all do wonders for a greying girl.
But for so many, how did Badass end up becoming Backache?
How did Facial Hair morph into Facial Scare?
Age is strictly a case of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter. (Jack Benny)
Some things, I do mind. They are of course those things over which I have absolutely no control whatsoever. That really pisses me off.
For example: skin sag.
My sainted mother was the author of this one. As she aged, her fine, thin skin had a tendency to drape. Her body would have done a Victorian home proud. This is an excellent representation, including those little tufts, which on my mother’s chin were long hairs that we periodically tweezed away. What insane asylum alum designed our bodies to take on the characteristics of the opposite sex as we slide into old age? Men get tits, we get beards. We both get drapery.
Now mind you, the fact that I bust my ass exercising tends to mitigate this a great deal. However, as my 60+ year old riding trainer can attest to, no amount of facial Botox is going to make up for the fact that when you disrobe, your surgically-enhanced face simply doesn’t match the unfortunate tendency of aging skin to sag off muscle.
My legs, churned into pistons by tens of thousands of steps, curved and muscular, have drapery. This is just a harbinger of things to come.
The secret of staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly, and lie about your age. (Lucille Ball)
My mother, who was 39 for nearly 30 years, agreed.
Right about the time we’ve developed enough common sense to know what our limitations are, our bodies limit us so much that we can’t do what we could have done better in our youth, but now know how to do without killing ourselves.
I have no idea what I just wrote. Perhaps you can make sense of it. Being older is the perfect excuse for obfuscation.
The only thing I regret about my past life is the length of it. If I had my past life over again I’d make all the same mistakes — only sooner. (Tallulah Bankhead)
I think that 60 is the new 30 is nonsense. Besides, I wouldn’t want to repeat those 30 years, particularly since I screwed them up so royally the first time. For me 65 is 65. It just happens to be my 65, as opposed to living in denial of the fact that an outdoor rug is determinedly growing out of my nostrils. A distressingly long chin hair on steroids which eludes my tweezers for some minutes because I can’t properly see the damned thing. These days when I color my hair, the gray bits end up more like Bozo the Clown red than the brown promised on the package.
Don’t like it? At least I have hair. Have strong legs. Have a sense of humor. Many don’t. Hell, many of us never woke up this morning.
You know you’re old when you’ve lost all your marvels. (Merry Browne)
The best revenge for the ravages of age is to go out and live in spite of. Those who are young have no clue what they have until it’s gone, thanks Joni Mitchell (http://jonimitchell.com/music/song.cfm?id=13). She was terrifyingly prescient, by the way.
Every so often my back barks. Every so often my knees shriek. Every so often various parts of me either fall off on to the hiking trail and have to be retrieved and later glued back on, or I bite into something sticky enough that my upper denture takes a hike. Caramel apples are the absolute worst. Nothing more embarrassing than to take a big, tasty bite, put the apple down, then realize half your chompers is still stuck in the skin. Or if I go bobbing for apples I may end up bobbing for my biters.
Speaking of Halloween (I wasn’t until now but then again I’m old, told ya), it is every single morning at my house. I encounter my bitter beer face just before lodging my lock-in dentures. Given that, here’s one advantage of becoming an old crank. In eight days it really will be Halloween. All I have to do is take my teeth out and leer out the door at the neighborhood kids.
Works every time. Saves a lot of money on Kit Kats.
And costumes, for that matter.
As I get ready to head to Africa, climb a very tall mountain and ride a spicy horse in Madagascar- alone, thanks but with guides- I have to admit I like my 65. It’s nobody else’s. The dentures and the sagging skin and the nose hairs and chin hairs and all the insults that come with aging are by god mine. How I learn to make peace with them is part of my journey. By not wasting time mourning what I can’t change and working with what I can, as well as ensuring that my life continues to be full of marvels (see Merry Browne quote, above), I have ended up with a kinda epic life.
As a fan of the inimitable Mae West (https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/1996/11/11/the-strong-woman), I wholeheartedly agree with this:
If you want more, see:
https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/259666.Mae_West. You won’t be sorry, even if you’re under thirty. In fact, you might want to steal a few.
Sun’s coming up. I’m gonna go trudge steps. Teeth firmly locked in, knees braced and sense of humor firmly in tow.
Aging seems to be the only available way to live a long time. (Daniel-Francois-Esprit Auber)
Yup. But consider the alternatives.