I can’t quite say I’ve been waiting my whole life for this birthday, nor can I admit to dreading it too awfully – it just kind of happened and here we are.
It’s a wonderfully roundish number, a theoretical mid-point sort of place where the past stretches back farther than the aging eye can quite see and the future remains of uncertain enough length to lend a mushy credence to the title ‘middle-aged’.
I expect to start getting hails and howdys from AARP very soon if not on this very day. They already know who I am - Aunt Bee became a member of proper standing 5 years ago – but now it’s officially my turn. I now qualify for a special rate on my car insurance and may even get discounts from some of my favorite (selected) merchants. Admittedly that does take a bit of the sting out of membership in an Association of Retired Persons about 15 years before I’ll even be able to afford retiring myself.
Elsewise, I’ve been going gray since my early 20′s, always had a fondness for older women, and like to drive Cadillacs, so I pretty much fit in already.
What concerns me more than anything is that I’m transitioning to a new demographic.
Instead of the newest cutting-edge phone, my ad will be one with big, easily-read buttons. Instead of an athlete’s vitamin, I’m offered Aleve and Depends. Between the pages of drug interaction disclosures I can choose the style of walk-in bath suitable to my specific needs. I can buy gold at special prices and command great exchange for my old gold that’s just gathering dust. Every insurance product I need (and there are alot more of them I need now that I’m at that magic age) is available at cut rates. I can adopt a Manatee, by gawd!
The ‘Mobility Chairs’ are probably the most annoying of the targeted advertising I see any more. I’m given to think that at 50 my hips and/or knees will suddenly give out every 15 feet, I’ll be gasping for breath, and that will certainly be an awful thing when I run off to try and visit the Alamo, Washington Monument, and Grand Canyon. Not to say that I don’t want to visit those places, but I’ll forgo the seating for now.
To be honest, the prime television demographic tailored stuff has been passing me by for years already, in fact, I pretty much skipped it on the way through. The last episodes of Seinfeld, or Friends, or the newest American Idol just didn’t hit my radar, fully negating any of that 18 to 49 geared advertising. Instead I traded it for PBS pledge drives and smallish networks showing old (bad) movies and funky ads.
Not a bad trade at all, really.
I don’t want to try a new sports drink. I like the furniture I have now and don’t need to rent any more, I don’t really give a damn if my teeth are their whitest, and the last time I was in a club I didn’t even bother to impress chicks (nor Aunt Bee, for that matter) with my brand of vodka. I’ve already got enough stuff, I don’t need any more.
In an odd way, I kind of appreciate this demographic move – even in all it’s galling glory. I do have a doorway that could do with a little decorative Scotty dog holding it ajar rather than the shoe stuffed in there now. And a motion-activated night-light to help me find the way to the bathroom in the middle of the night isn’t such a bad idea. There’s even a growing possibility that I’ll talk to my Doctor this year to find out if I’m healthy enough for Viagra. (Or maybe Cialis. Those views from the bathtub are nice!)
And that is what I think pushes us over the edge on this marking of a half-century; we don’t need more new stuff, we need help with the stuff we got.
Whether it’s a better way to store that linen accumulated over decades, or better access to the pans in the back of the cabinet so as not to wrench that one shoulder again, we ain’t spring chickens and we aren’t gonna get around it by ignoring it or dial it back with a new wardrobe.
It didn’t feel so inevitable at 40, did it?
True, though, I did get a bit of a head start on the big five-naught; 5 years ago Aunt Bee turned 50 and my gray hair went white – beard and all. She sailed through it all without a hitch. It kinda weirded me out…
That was when I started to wonder if I had ‘it’ anymore.
Not that I had much ‘it’ to begin with, but was any left? I’d like to say that buying the Eldo ETC had nothing to do with anything resembling a mid-life crisis, but the fact of the matter is that I was actually looking for an SLS. Never mind that I’ve loved Eldo styling since the 1993 re-work; 300 horse power, high-gearing, and leather speaks loud in the middle-aged hind-brain.
I guess what I find now, at this neon-bright sign-post along my path, is that the ‘it’ I was worried about doesn’t matter to me any more. The ‘it’ I have now is quite a different animal. The only problem is is that this ‘it’ is much less definable than my old ‘it’, but then I’m the one that gets to define it, so I can load my own dice.
Anymore my ‘it’ doesn’t ask whether the girl at the coffee cart will go out with me, but whether she’ll save the last oatmeal cookie for my afternoon break. My ‘it’ looks in the rear view mirror to catch the expression of the punk in the coffee-can mufflered bumper-car as he gets left in the dust by a long white-haired guy in a Cadillac. My ‘it’ still wants to know just a little bit more about everything and it still has alot to learn. Mine is an ‘it’ in progress.
At 50, my ‘it’ has graduated from being a curmudgeon-in-training to full blown get-off-my-lawn grandeur. (I’ll hold the yell-at-clouds in reserve for 6-naught – maybe…)
My ‘it’ has no regrets because then I wouldn’t be standing in front of this particular you-are-here sign. You see, at this particular sign is the girl that’s hung around with me for two decades and two adult kids that have turned into good people and that I’m very, very proud of. At this particular sign is a job that is important to my community (even if it is a tad boring now and again). Those things I wouldn’t change nor risk changing even if I could.
I like my ‘it’ now, even amidst it’s imperfections, and there’s only a handful of people that I care whether they like my ‘it’ too. Unfortunately you, dear reader, as disappointing as it may be, are probably not on that list, but take heart, I might consider putting you on the queue in case a spot opens up.
An Unscheduled Digression: Humans have 10 fingers, or rather, 8 fingers and 2 thumbs, ergo we count in base 10. If we had 8 fingers, 4 to a hand, we would naturally count in base 8 which would have had me turning 50 ten years ago!
On the other hand, with an additional 2 fingers, counting base 12, I’d have ten more years to go. and be a faster typist too, probably…