In loving memory of Natalie Wood, whose films represented a “coming of age” for both her and Hollywood films in general, and who would have made a beautiful senior citizen, IMHO.
Recently I wrote about how December is a month filled with both delight and despair; how the bleakness of winter (with its bare trees and gray skies) can trigger depression. I recalled my sister’s struggle with bi-polar illness and hinted at my own occasional, but profound dips in mental well being.
December is also my birthday month. You may think racking up the years would contribute to being depressed. I’m not exactly depressed, let’s just say I’m enormously preoccupied with getting old. In fact, I’ve been contemplating writing about reaching 50 for some time now. . .two months, 28 days, 12 hours and 18 minutes. I would mention the seconds, but that would be overkill wouldn’t it? Next week on Wednesday, however, I’ll be at the point of no return.
This wretched preoccupation with 5-0 has lead me to engage in all manner of preventative maintenance–a desperate frenzy of activity, really. I joined a gym, purchased some exercise equipment for home, bought lots of high end moisturizing products, and specially formulated “age defying” shampoo and conditioner. I stock piled L’Oreal hair color, in Espresso, for my resistant gray. Visited Victoria’s Secret for anti-gravity devices in their signature color. Maybe having “Pink” scrawled across my butt will create an illusion of youth.
But still it’s difficult to deny the forgetfulness that creeps up on you throughout your forties, then becomes a full blown case of empty headedness by this approaching ripe old age. I’ve compared stories with friends and we all seem to have the same propensity for losing keys, books and the like.
Well, I’ve managed to devise ways of compensating. For keys, have multiple sets made. Hide them in a place that is easy to access, but unlikely to be guessed by robbers. You have to remember where you’ve hidden them, though. Tell someone else where you’ve put them, as a backup memory; and then, for the sake of all that is holy, never, ever put them somewhere else.
For books, commit to reading in only one place. I had built-ins put in the bathroom-slash-library, multi-tasker that I am. I never misplace books now that I stock them next to the toilet paper. Brilliant!
Today, I decided to further explore the brighter side of this irreversible predicament of aging. I do have my heels dug in, however, to slow the process a little.
I’m happy to report that periods of contemplation on the matter have resulted in a number of positive, albeit unexpected, discoveries. Sharing them is just my insignificant way of cheering up my 50+ counterparts. Here are a couple of highlights.
- There is now a more flattering term for this section of my life. I don’t have to refer to it as “middle age” or “winter” (both of which conjure up visions of darkness, bleakness, DEAD of winter-ness). It is now called an “encore performance”. I can’t remember who coined the phrase, but I want him or her to win a Nobel prize.
- FIVE-O is popular, as evidenced by the fact that the TV series “Hawaii FIVE-O” was recreated–with actors who are no where near 50. (What’s up with that? Jack Lord was the epitome of crime-fighting maturity. And Dan-O was no spring chicken, either. No offense to James MacArthur. The late James MacArthur.)
- You are now only five years away from 55, the age at which many fast food chains give discounts on coffee. Yipee. Note to self: start a countdown calendar for age 55.
- AARP sends you free stuff. They coax you toward your encore performance with 1,000 free address labels, discounts on dining out, and articles (with photos) of celebrity members encouraging perseverance. All this implies that a) you aren’t going to be moving (you’ve retired and have nothing better to do than send snail mail; b) your culinary taste has declined to a point where Norm’s is your restaurant of choice, and c) you are in the company of beautiful people, like Sting, Stevie Nicks and Betty White. (Of course, when you die of old age you are in the company of beautiful people, too. They conveniently leave out that part. Very sneaky, those AARP-ers.)
So, friends, do not despair. Actively enjoy your encore performance over the hill, and snatch up all the senior discounts and free stuff you are now entitled to.
Boy, now I can hardly wait! Thank you, Victoria.
. . . and Natalie