OLD needs a new PR guy.

May 3, 2020 § 2 Comments

OLD? Yes. But talk about style!

This is how PR works. First, make the customer feel bad about what they are which, in this case, is OLD. Then offer a solution to the problem just created: buy our product and you will be YOUNG again!

Which you won’t, but all they have to do is get you to buy the danged thing they are selling and they’ve done their job.

Their pitch begins with dissing OLD: “Misplacing your glasses, keys, and the name of the guy you talk to every day at the park?” Then they dangle a product. “Take this once-daily pill to turn back the clock and make your brain YOUNG again!”

They work OLD-shaming from many angles.

They go after the easy stuff, like appearance. “Does your skin droop? Hate those crow’s feet, those wrinkles? Don’t worry. We have a cream, a face-lift in a jar! Results guaranteed in just five days.” Six days later OLD buys another miracle wrinkle cure.

If OLD hasn’t noticed it is a little less steady, the PR guys will happily point it out. “Afraid of falling now that you’re OLD? We have a clunky piece of not-jewelry to hang around your neck, just press the button and say these magic words, ‘I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!’”

When it comes to the fragility, embarrassment, and the diminishment of physical abilities brought about by age, these guys are relentless. “Can’t get out of a chair? Cook a meal? Tie your shoes? We’ll rent you a helpful, caring, smooth and attractive YOUNG person to do those things for you!”

But these ads, which purport to sum up what it means to be OLD are like characterizing picnics by featuring the flies, the ants, the poison ivy, the mayonnaise that’s gone off, and the 80% chance of rain. 

OLD needs a new PR guy, one who has experienced its advantages.

If I were that guy, OLD’s advertisements wouldn’t sell a thing. They would be more like public service announcements highlighting the benefits of OLD.

Congratulations! Because you’re OLD you’ve lost all that unwanted weight!

All right, that was a little deceptive; the weight you’ve lost is not measured in pounds and inches. What you have lost is the weight of self. The YOUNG self is so engorged, so massive, its shadow obscures everything else. YOUNG judges the world in reference to itself. Is this thing good or bad for ME? Other people are just mirrors in which YOUNG assesses the impression it is making. The YOUNG self is a heavy lift.

OLD sees the world much more lucidly and accurately—no big ego obscures the view. OLD travels light and trains its gaze outward.

OLD? Now you have it all!

From the outside, OLD is not all that pretty. But that’s just the outside. OLD is like those Russian nesting dolls. All the selves OLD has ever been are nested inside. The stories run deep and long—they are all in there. OLD is time in a bottle.

You’ve made it! You’re OLD and you’re cool!

OLD has endured every kind of humiliation along the way, OLD has staggered, but kept on walking, and so OLD exhibits the cool of the unflappable. Life has played a series of cruel tricks, inflicted sudden losses. It has proven itself to be unfair, illogical, and quixotic, but OLD has caught on. OLD knows that it can endure almost anything because the hard times pass.

When Life short-sheets OLD, pulls the rug out from under, or leaves a tack on OLD’S chair, OLD stays COOL.

OLD appreciates the good that comes.

When life delivers joy OLD does not take it for granted or feel deserving. OLD is appreciative because OLD knows it could have so easily gone the other way.

OLD knows how to say thanks.

OLD feels gratitude, , and that may be OLD’S deepest wisdom.

Note: I was scrolling through earlier posts and I found one guaranteed to take your mind off the pandemic: John Dillinger’s Dick

Choosing off a limited menu.

January 15, 2019 § 4 Comments

 

At first, life is an all-you-can-eat buffet.

Stuff yourself!

There’s plenty more in the kitchen!

 

 

But time and mortality begin to take

options off the table.

 

So far it is just friends and family members—

Ones who are older.

Older than we are anyway.

 

We watch them peruse a narrowed menu

and feel sorry for them.

But the day will come when

we too will have to choose off a limited menu,

one that won’t disagree with who time

and circumstance and our own

I-am-immortal behavior

have made us. « Read the rest of this entry »

Young again.

July 7, 2018 § 2 Comments

I want to be young again.

Not thirty-young.

Not eighteen-young.

Zero-young.

I want to be so new my own hands are a foreign land.

So new that light is a stunning surprise.

So new that the temperature of the world shocks me till I bawl—and then the sound of my own voice shocks me again.

 

I want a body that is still growing up, not down, one that takes me places I have forgotten about as an adult, or have come to take for granted.

I want to sit under the table surrounded by grownups’ knees, unnoticed as those grownups speak adult and pay no attention to their own shoes–but I will, in my secret cave under the table.

I want the line between what is real, and what is not, to blur, so that the imagined is so possible it tingles my spine, even if it puts that scary thing that huffs in the night back under my bed.

I want to be the kid, the junior partner, the one who sits in the back seat and whines.

« Read the rest of this entry »

Age before beauty.

October 21, 2017 § 9 Comments

My husband, Ray, says there are no ugly young people, an exaggeration, but not a whopping big one.

Consider what the young have going for them. Smooth skin, and if it is tan, their skin has not yet begun to pay the price for that glow. Wide eyes, the lids fully open. Straight backs. Limber joints. The young body exhibits an appealing ease.

But old is beautiful too.

What I write next is mostly for women, the sex afflicted with the expectation of beauty.

This post will come as no surprise, but sometimes we only question the things we take for granted when we say them out loud or state them in print.

Physical attractiveness is not an absolute requirement for guys. Funny is just as good. Athleticism or smarts; those work too.

And for those with young-buck good looks, with age these attributes are seamlessly replaced by a growth in stature and authority, a good job.

I don’t know whether this is because women are more broad-minded than men, more willing to judge worth based on a range of positive qualities, or because men, as members of the dominant sex, have used their power to write the terms of their own attractiveness.

« Read the rest of this entry »

Not grouchy. Just old.

April 24, 2016 § 7 Comments

catfishI glanced around the meeting room table.

Every one of the women gathered to discuss library business wore a catfish frown.

 

Catfish can’t help it. It’s simple anatomy, but as a young person I assumed the human face was mobile, and that facial expressions revealed the emotions within.

If so, I was in trouble. New at running a public library, I read the frowns of those women-of-a-certain-age as disapproval.

I hadn’t reckoned with the way age creates unintended facial expressions including the, “Hey kid, get off my lawn” glare, the “Life is one long disappointment” slump, and the face-at-rest frown.

« Read the rest of this entry »

Planned obsolescence.

July 18, 2015 § 11 Comments

Gears.Some things are designed to break down or go out of style.

The human being is such a product.

Parts age, function less well, then fail; destruction is built right into the design.

As for going out of style, boy do we ever, but we have built that in ourselves.

We could value the old for their experience and wisdom, but we go for the new the young, the shiny every time.

Aging and the old are a source of cheap jokes.

About looks: How do I get rid of these crow’s feet and wrinkles? Go bra-less. The weight will smooth those wrinkles right out!

About mental capacity: Why should seniors use valet parking? Because the valet will remember where he parked the car.

Okay, I get the fact that these are jokes, but in a crass way they demonstrate what we think of the old, those poor foolish dodderers.

But aging is so much more subtle than that. Knees go, sure. Memories falter. But some things actually get better.

« Read the rest of this entry »

Time to be old.

May 12, 2015 § 11 Comments

My family, young and old.

My family, young and old.

Being old feels sudden, a surprise sprung on me by life.

But the signal, like a pheromone that alerts every ant in the colony, has reached most members of my generation.

The news comes from the bodies we occupy. Joints don’t work as smoothly as they used to. Pains flare up, with no explanation but time. The mirror reflects an unfamiliar, old, face.

When we were young we caught death’s attention with our stupidity. Convinced we were immortal, we drove too fast, swallowed things just to see what would happen, hitched rides with strangers, swam when the flags were flying.

For those of us lucky enough to be growing old, death gave us a good scare, then let us go.

« Read the rest of this entry »

Consumer reviews of Old.

October 26, 2014 § 14 Comments

Sunset in Apalachicola

At sixty-three I think of myself as young-old.

Some call this age bracket “the new forty,” but it isn’t. The forties are consumed by striving, climbing, raising kids.

Sixty-three is part of life’s slide into home plate. I’m not down about it—I feel pretty sure that if I take good care of myself I can avoid touching base for quite a while.

But the idea of Old in reference to me is something that takes getting used to.

I’ve been young all my life! Young is who I am!

If there is an amateur phase of Old, I’m in it.

I have to get over thinking of Old as a passing thing, like a virus, something that will respond to some over-the-counter remedy.

« Read the rest of this entry »

Some things get better.

December 1, 2013 § 6 Comments

Not knees. Not hands. Not eyes–and forget skin.

Sadly, nothing connected to the mortal envelope of the body improves past about age twenty.

But what’s inside can, and usually does.

The stereotype of the old guy shaking a fist at the kids running across his lawn started for a reason but for most, the years add up to something more than frustrated indignation.

The sum total of a life is often wisdom.

The self that obscured the view of anything else when we were young has become smaller—we now see past it. That burdensome self is lighter too. We travel less encumbered.

As we age we wake up from the fever dream of acquisition, take a look around and say, where the heck did all this stuff come from? We realize that what we own owns us–and begin to give things away.

« Read the rest of this entry »

The amateur.

November 1, 2012 § 13 Comments

I am new at being old. Although, at sixty-one I can probably maintain my amateur status a while longer.

Having always been young my subconscious reaction is that being old is something I will get over, like  a cold. I will look in the mirror and the face I see will be the one I know, not my mother’s.

I avoid my first-thing-in-the-morning reflection.

Words like “tousled” make the disheveled state of waking up sound cute.

The old do not get tousled. Their hair just sticks up funny and their faces, when slept on wrong, stay creased a long time.

« Read the rest of this entry »

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