Aging Gracefully

Having turned 60 just four days ago, I’ve been contemplating the idea of aging gracefully.  In order to figure out how one goes about that, I’ve been discreetly watching old people. 

Here in Florida, we have no shortage of specimens to study.  Granted, the supply is far greater in South Florida than here in North Florida, where it generally gets too cold for the species.  In South Florida, old people are like one of the greatest hazards you face.  It’s like living in an earthquake zone, except you can’t buy insurance for it. 

Fortunately, old people in South Florida are easily recognizable even from a distance, because they are all driving Chrysler Sebring convertibles.  And no one else does.  When driving on I-95–which in and of itself is about as safe as hang-gliding–there are only two things you need to watch out for.  Semi trucks, whose drivers will remember to apply the brakes mere seconds after running over you and the four cars in front of you from behind, and Chrysler Sebring convertibles. 

The typical Chrysler Sebring convertible on I-95 will at first glance appear to be unoccupied, since the driver will be too short to see over the dashboard, and in some cases, will be too short to be visible through the driver’s-side window.  The driver will also always be in the far left lane, since he or she is pretending to be living life in the fast lane.  Suddenly, a brain cell will fire and he or she will realize that the exit he/she needed to take is four exits back.  Then he/she will veer across five lanes of 80 mile-per-hour traffic to take the next exit, blissfully heedless of the horn-blowing and brake-screeching.  I guess there is an advantage to losing your hearing. 

But I digress.  I’ve lived in North Florida now for 9 years so I have fewer specimens to study, but it is, after all, still Florida.  Home of the brave, land of the Senior Citizen.  In the week before my momentous birthday, I observed the following situations: 

Old guy gets dropped off in a parking garage by the elevators, while younger woman (daughter, granddaughter, wife?) goes to park the car.  He gingerly makes his way to the elevator landing and casually leans on a nearby handrail  What?  He couldn’t walk from the car to the elevator?  Is this in my future? 

Scenario Number Two:  Also involving parking.  Old woman gets into her car, parked in a handicapped space.  It then takes her 15 minutes to actually start the car and get moving.  Oh no.  This hits way too close to home.  Except in the opposite direction.  When I get IN the car to leave somewhere, I’m ready to roll.  It’s when I reach my destination and get OUT of the car that poses the problem. 

It seems to me that when I was younger, I would reach my destination and hop out of the car in a veritable heartbeat.  Now it’s like, should I take my whole handbag, or just the wallet and the book?  Do I need my sunglasses, or should I leave them in the car?  And what about the umbrella?  I see a dark cloud in the distance.  Should I take the sunglasses AND the umbrella?  Did I turn off the headlights?  Is the emergency brake on? 

Much has been written about how boomers are re-writing the idea of aging and I believe there is a lot of truth to that.  It seems to me that it used to be that at a certain age you were supposed to adopt a sort of aged  persona. You’ve now risen above all those little annoyances that used to be such an important part of your life (you know, like sex, and Twitter). 

My preliminary conclusion is:  I’m not aging gracefully.  First of all, I hear perfectly, and I can walk a long way.  I don’t have a handicapped license plate.  I don’t own a Chrysler Sebring convertible.  The logical conclusion is, I’m not old.  And I refuse to be old.  But wait…is that a wrinkle I see? Not to worry.  I’m pretty sure there’s an app for that.


10 responses to “Aging Gracefully

  1. I may not be old (and Fakename will arrive there before I) but I can see it from here. Today this is mostly because it’s 24 degrees going on 12 and I can’t breathe outside. Even inside I am holed up with my humidifier and a hot toddy, I mean a warm drink. Wuyi oolong, if you must know.

  2. Listen here Pipsqueak. Ye of the only five years younger than Fakename. You will always be my “little” sister. Never mind that you’re smarter 🙂
    Fakename can also see it from here…and does not like to be reminded of its proximity. Wonders if there are college graduate level courses in Denial Enhancement.

  3. “Smarter” is not a given. Depends on what you’re talking about. Math and physics and chemistry and engineering, sure, I have more innate talent (maybe). But there are other dimensions of “smart” where you are better endowed and I have to try very hard to grasp the fringes.

  4. masteroftheuniverse

    In South Florida, the car of choice for the old farts is the Lincoln or Mercury Grand Marquis. I have about a billion stories about dealing with oldsters. Once, we lived in a condo development for a year that contained 95% people over 70. It was horrible, and an old lady slapped my son who was about 6 at the time. When my wife went to cold cock her, the old lady reminded her that it was a felony to hit a senior citizen. My wife called the cops instead. The old lady admitted that she spanked my son and my wife insisted on pressing charges. The cops didn’t want to take the old lady to the station, but my wife had presence of mind to ask the cop to call the supervisor, as a crime had been committed. Finally they cuffed the old lady and took her downtown. Everyone in the complex got mad at us for that, and we moved to the beach shortly thereafter.

  5. Jeff…that must be the west side of South Florida 🙂 Because in the Ft. Lauderdale/West Palm Beach area, it’s Chrysler Sebrings all the way. Or at least it was when I was there.

  6. I think whether you consider yourself “old” or not, has a lot to do with health. As long as health is good, we feel young because we do not experience any impairment. But as health impairments affect our quality of life, then we begin to see ourselves as “old”, which I think is associated with infirmity.

    I think the fear of growing old is the fear of losing independence.

  7. masteroftheuniverse

    My folks are as old as the hills and by all means should probably be living in an ACLF. However, they cherish their independence and intend on remaining in their house till they die. As old as they are, and they don’t think young, they still go out all the time. My dad still golfs every day, and keeps up with the yard work. They have full time help to keep the housework going. Still, I worry about them. However, they still are nasty old farts.
    Interesting anecdote. I was having coffee about a month ago, sitting next to a large table of senior men having their coffee klatch. One of the guys started talking about his swollen veins in his legs. Not to be outdone, the rest of the table chimed in about their medical problems. When it got to heart transplants, I got up, doffed my hat to the guys and told them that they were so depressing that “They were so depressing that Suicide is an option.”:)

  8. Which reminds me of several senior jokes I’ve heard. I know several. It’s funny, as you get older you either find senior jokes more offensive, or you find them funnier. I’m in the funnier group.
    Here’s one of the least obscene:
    Old guy in a nursing home drops his pants in front of Alice and Mabel, and says, “Guess how old I am?”
    Together, Alice and Mabel say, “82”.
    He says, “Wow, that is amazing! How did you know that?”
    Alice and Mabel: “You told us yesterday.”

  9. I liked the one about Alice and Mabel vs the red lights.

  10. Ah yes, a good one indeed. Then there is the favorite senior pick-up line: “Do I come here often?”

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