Playing That Age Thing to the Hilt
People ask me all the time, “What’s it like to be old?” Well, they don’t actually say it out loud, but the question is there, in their gaze — it’s either concern or horror, I don’t know, my eyes aren’t that good anymore.
It’s in their voices — loud, of course, and dimply-cheeked sweet. (Think Kindergarten teacher.)
It’s in their stance — ready either to grab me if I fall or run if I should wobble in their direction.
Oh, yeah, I can tell.
So since it seems to be a topic now, I’ll tell you what it’s like to be old. (I should warn you that part of my effort here is pure greed. The last time I wrote about being old on Medium it became such a runaway hit I’ve made over $28 in lifetime earnings. I know you think $28 isn’t so great, but in 1937, the year I was born, it would have fed our little family of three for an entire month.)
Anyway, It’s like this:
I walk with a cane but not just any old cane. My cane is covered in peacock feathers. They’re peacock feathers stamped onto plastic because real peacock feathers would probably make me sneeze, but if I’m not pretending to be all rickety in order to get away with moving to the front of the line, I’m posing with it, holding it at an angle that says “silver-haired model, quelle chic!” It’s so damn cool! (I’ve never said “quelle chic” in my life until now. I swear. I didn’t think I even knew those words!)
If I make a fool of myself by forgetting a simple word and replacing it with something stupid, e.g., “that spaghetti stuff in your stomach” instead of “intestines”, I can blame it on my aging brain and bypass the sad fact that this kind of thing has been with me since birth.
I’ve finally learned how to burp. My mother didn’t burp until she got older and had reflux problems, too. It’s a terrible thing, not being able to burp when that bubble is right there. Right there! I used to frown on people who just let ‘er rip — even in public. My god, have some manners! I laugh now at how I thought my greatest failure came from not disciplining my son and grandson, who had it down to such a science they could burp-sing entire stanzas of “Hey, Jude”.