Alert the media, I am now a half century old!
Why do certain things seem to happen when you turn 50, as opposed to turning 20, 30 or even 40? I feel like the “warranty” on my body ran out at 30! Don’t get me wrong, I am surprised that I made it this long and survived my 20’s. I did some really stupid stuff in my 20’s. I still do stupid stuff today, but to a lesser degree of severity now. My “stupid stuff” now does not involve the police or a fire truck. (Well, expect that time we were shooting off fireworks in my driveway and one rocket went through one of the eaves of the roof into the attic. I have never seen three grown men tackle a stair case to get into the attic at such velocity.)
Turning 50 was no big deal, right up until I got the letter from AARP asking me if I wanted to join the club. AARP! Are you kidding me? I got the letter in the mail and showed it to my husband. He just laughed at me and said, “well, I guess you are now officially old.” My husband is 4 years younger than I am and this seems to give him some sort of “license” to make fun of my age. I have already planned that when he turns 50, I am going to wallpaper the kitchen with all the AARP letters he will receive when he turns 50! Just so you know, AARP does not send just one letter, but many letters in order to recruit you into the cult. I guess they send more than one letter in case you “forgot” they sent you the first letter! (Old people humor.)
I do not know if turning 50 makes you wiser, but I can attest that it makes you think more about your life. I actually started thinking about turning 50 a year before it came around. In astrology, it states that turning 50 is a “return” to yourself. Or something like that. I was told that you kind of evaluate your life thus far, access your accomplishments, decide about your work status, think over your relationships and set plans for your future. This sounded like a college course to me and I was completely uninterested. That is until I TURNED 50.
I did not feel any older or wiser after my birthday. I did notice those little lines around my eyes getting deeper and that parts of my body were “not sitting up as high up as they used to be.” When did I start to get “loose” skin around the back of my arms and the back of my thighs? What are those dang black hairs that keep springing up on my chin, like old men with hair sprouting out of their ear lobes? I did not sign up for any of this stuff.
I thought I saw a gray hair at my hairline the other day! I thought, how can this happen when I highlight my hair? I am going to have to speak to my hair stylist about this at our next appointment. I pity my stylist already.
Now that I have completed my “soap box” tirade of the down sides of age, I would like to address some of the things I appreciate about being “old.”
I have always been called “eccentric” or “off.” I think these words were just a nice way of saying “crazy as a loon.” I have found that being eccentric allows you to be yourself, say what you mean and not have to make excuses for your likes and dislikes. I have very little trouble saying no to things these days. No one even bothers to ask me to do volunteer work anymore, because I just stare at them as if they were naked and drooling on themselves.
I remember growing up in the South and visiting my grandmother and great aunt during the summers. My great aunt, Vera, was always getting “gussied up” to go to some fund raiser luncheon or “save the ‘whatever’ (animal, tree, city)” rallies in her neighborhood. She would put on her best dress, all kinds of jewelry and this horrid perfume that smelled like rancid vinegar. She would don some cute little hat that invariably had some sort of plastic flowers on it. She would then get in her car, drive down the middle of the road (because the white line was the course to drive on) and attend her fancy affairs with a dozen other women that looked just like her. She said these events were her “civic duty.”
On the summer visits, I also got to spend time with my grandmother’s many siblings and their spouses. It was like the watching “The Jerry Springer Show”, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and “Whose Line Is It Anyway” wrapped into one. You never knew what was going to come out of their mouths!! My great aunt Vera was convinced that aliens were visiting her at night to take her away to another planet. My aunt Mary Belle was convinced a man was living under her mobile trailer and only came out at night. (This would have been impossible because the crawl space under her trailer was no more than 5 inches.) These are just the highlights!
So now I am 50. Do I now have to attend fundraisers and luncheons? I think not. I have no patience for these long, draw out affairs that want you to donate money and/or time. I am not saying these events have no value, but you really do not want me there! I will just mail you a check if you leave me alone. I also do not believe that aliens are coming for me, as I am not a good specimen and I would complain about the food. I do not think someone is living under my house because my house is on a slab with no basement.
What I do know is that I appreciate things more. I do not try to do two things at once anymore, as I only end up having to repeat one of them because I screwed one of them up. I am not as shy or timid as I was as a kid. (Hush, Tammy) I value people more than I did when I was younger. Now, people mean more to me than things/possessions.
However, I have found that my tolerance for younger people is as low as my dad had for my generation. I have no “understanding” of the music, video games, TV shows or social media that kids are exposed to now. By the way, I do not need to see your underwear hanging out of the top of your jeans, either.
Getting older can provide you with mental clarity and/or dementia. I think I have “a toe in both pools”, so to speak.
The moral of the story is, do not wait until you are 50 to be exactly who you are today. Be fabulous, be courageous, be thoughtful, be crazy and most of all, be kind to yourself. There is only one you and there is a purpose in this.
If you are having trouble demonstrating any of these attributes, then, be a unicorn that follows the principles of “Warning, When I Am an Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple” Ms. Joseph says it all!
Author: Jenny Joseph
When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people’s gardens
And learn to spit.
You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.
But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.
But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old and start to wear purple.