I look at aging with mixed feelings. One the one hand, age is the reward for a life well lived. On the other hand, age means age-ing and with that comes certain inevitabilities. Well, Letterman has his ten; Bertha has her Bakers Dozen … and this time, it’s the Things I Will Not Allow Myself to Do Just Because I’m Over 75 list. Here is the Bakers Dozen list of those things my 75 year old self can not, must not, shall not do:
13) Entertain strangers, in-laws, acquaintances, or non-medical professionals with stories of a personal nature. I may have overcome malaria. I may have thrown up something that looked strangely like an octopus. I may have suffered the pain and irritation of an impacted bowel. I may have had a hose, tube, or other implement rammed into every orifice of my body, but I will not, under any circumstances, allow these remembrances to become a part of my repertoire of polite conversation topics.
12) Tell children stupid wives tales under the mistaken impression they will be scared or sickened enough to reconsider their choices. I remember being 6 years old and having a baby sitter tell me that eating watermelon seeds would cause a watermelon vine to grow in my stomach. After questioning how a seed could survive stomach acid, root without dirt, and properly grow without sunlight or pollination, she just gave up. That experience sparked something in my little brain and I have never, and will never, make myself look like an old fool with stories that have no backing.
11) Ask a 30 year old if he’d like a lollipop. I know that age makes everything and everybody seem downright prenatal, but I’m setting up a rule for myself right here and now. Unless the person is in diapers, in a stroller, or has “big” teeth coming in, I will assume that everyone is an able-bodied adult. It’s just safer.
10) Schedule my life around my doctor’s appointments. “Well, I can come sit with the grandkids from 8 until 8:50 but then I have to go because I have a gout appointment at 10:30. Then I can come back from 2 until 3:20 but then I have to run to my colon appointment. I can come back the next day, but only for an hour because I have my cholesterol checkup, my diabetes prevention seminar with Dr. Sweet and then I’m off to my “Let’s Get Moving” constipation class.”
9) Refer to 8:00 pm as “this hour”, as in “Who would be calling at this hour?” There’s a lot of life that happens after Wheel of Fortune goes off and I am making a pact with myself right now that I will go out and discover some of that life while I still have the hips to make it happen.
8) Cower in fear of new technology. I can’t tell you how many older folks I have run into who have this pervasive, overwhelming, wide-eyed, panicked terror about computers. They are not the end of the world. They are not the downfall of any generation. They are not here to replace human relationships. They are merely an inanimate tool designed to make our lives more organized and keep us connected with people we otherwise would have lost track of years ago. If something new comes along, provided it doesn’t want a blood sample, I’ll at least give it a try.
7) Refer to a half-ounce of chicken, two lettuce leaves, and a quarter teaspoon of vinaigrette as a “large portion”. OK, so your appetite decreases as you age. Que sera sera. That doesn’t mean I have to change my outlook on life. I was having lunch with my group of elderly volunteers one day when I ordered the 6-ounce sirloin and spinach salad off the lunch menu. A collective hush went around the table as they each realized I was not planning to split my meal with 3 other people. Just for fun I said, “I can’t wait to take a look at the dessert menu!”
6) Drench myself in musky perfume because my elbow hurts too bad to take a shower. Perfume does not take the place of daily bathing, I don’t care how strong it is. No one is fooled and everyone is offended. If you walk into a room and suddenly everyone breaks out in a collective gagging, heaving, coughing fit, the chances are pretty good the problem is YOU. The daily shower ritual that began early in life shall continue until death for this gal.
5) Blame other drivers for the fact that I no longer have reflexes. Yes, there are inexperienced young people on the road. Yes, there are impatient people who speed, run red lights, and cross double yellow lines. But if I have come to the point where I can’t remember to slow down when I see brake lights or I mistake a farmers’ market for the turnpike, it is time to hang up the old license and take a cab.
4) Ever, ever, ever say “I’m too old” … unless it involves pregnancy. I once heard someone say that age is just a state of mind. Well, if I spend all of my time wishing I were younger or convincing myself that life is over at 45, I’ll have a long, boring, panicked 50 year stretch of time to kill. If George Burns can enjoy a good cigar at 102 and Betty White can still be a crack-up at 89, swearing off adventure just because I’m over 40 is a crying shame.
3) Reminisce about things that never happened. In the next 40 years, I’m sure my generation will look more and more respectful, resourceful, and amazing but I will not allow myself to pine for a time that never was.
2) Scratch my crotch, my butt, or underneath my breasts in public. Nanny once said that living alone “makes you downright nasty”. Based on what I have seen, I am inclined to think she had a point.
1) Wear my belt as a necklace. How is it that the older people get, the more they seem to hike their pants up? It won’t be long before Great Aunt Magda just pulls her pants right on up over her head and sees the world through the zipper fly. This is disgusting. This looks miserably painful. This is wrong on more levels that I can talk about here. Even Fran, my cutesy-poo cousin whose 7-foot husband Stan likes to tell stories about how he survived a plane crash at the Battle of Grenada with a broken leg and some paper clips, thinks this is the worst sin a retired person can commit. She keeps a close watch on Stan’s pants the older he gets. I, for one, will not wear my pants up that high. Ever. And you can quote me on it later.
© Bertha Grizzly 2011. All Rights Reserved. No duplication or distribution.