I was reading an article called Becoming Invisible, written by a woman who’d just turned 50. I was laughing out loud as I read. Gradually, though, my laughter turned to sobs as I became aware of what lay ahead for me. As I reached for a tissue, the phone rang. It was the receptionist at my doctor’s office.
“We’ve scheduled you for a mammogram and a bone-density scan,” she said, “It’s routine at your age.”
Perfect timing, I thought.
And there it was, the turning point. The days of parent-teacher interviews, kids’ soccer games and PTA meetings making way for days of colonoscopies, root canals and shopping for fiber and toothpaste for sensitive gums. This is when everything will start to fall apart.
Everyone says, "You’re only as old as you feel." Actually everyone doesn’t say that. Younger people, with a there-there attitude, tell you that to make you feel better. Older people, clinging to the hope it’s true, tell you that too. But we all know the truth. You are as old as you are. There’s nothing you can do to change it. No amount of Botox, collagen or hair dye is going to stop you from getting old.
But still there are those who fight it. Women flock to cosmetic counters clutching ads they’ve torn from magazines while waiting for their latest cosmetic procedure.
They believe what they read. They want to believe it. They want the cosmetician to reassure them using the product will make them look younger. Men will notice them. They’ll feel alive again!
Although there may be products that can smooth and tighten, I think it’s more likely as weeks go by they’ll forget what their wrinkles looked like to begin with, and when they look in the mirror they’ll see what they want to see.
Advertising executives are smart, or we’re really dumb. They label products with words like age-defying, anti-wrinkle and anti-aging. (I’ve never met anyone who’s pro-aging, have you?) They name their products things like Visible Lift and Age-Rewind. Really? Are you kidding me? Because if they can actually rewind the clock, I’d like to go back a couple of years, please.
Aging is a gradual thing. You begin to notice subtle changes, like when people stop referring to you as Miss. When you hear the word Ma’am, you look around to see who they’re talking to. Box-boys no longer fight over who gets to carry your groceries. They draw straws to see who has to. Get-togethers with girlfriends always begin with someone fanning their face and asking, ‘Does anyone else find it hot in here?’ Suddenly there’s no mistaking the junior section for your size anymore, as you hold up a pair of jeans that wouldn’t fit one leg. You know you’re in the right section when every article of clothing seems to have a flower embroidered in the corner.
Remember those "tween" years, when you weren’t a kid but you weren’t a teenager either? You go through the same thing all over again when you’re in your forties. You can’t use the parking spots reserved for young mothers—Where were those when I was toting two toddlers to the store with me years ago?—and you’re not old enough to get the free coffee, donuts and a discount on Seniors Day. Why are we always overlooked? Why aren’t there parking spots reserved for women over 40 who have bunions the size of golf balls?
When I was younger there were two things I looked forward to about getting older. First, I thought by the time I got to this age I’d have it all figured out.
Well I don’t.
Second, I expected that as you got older everyone would automatically treat you with respect.
Well I’m not seeing it. Men who used to trip over themselves to open a door for me now trip over me to rush through the door.
I’m tired of being told how great the golden years are going to be.