Category Archives: aging

Calling Dr. Seuss!

There are multiple good reasons why clothing was invented.

Reason #1: my body.  Which, thanks to the reasons why clothing was invented, I rarely have to see, especially because I almost always wear pants, which camouflage 50% of the reason. (I don’t care who you are or how much you workout – after a certain age, naked is no longer a good look for you.)

So I was amazed when I had an opportunity to wear a dress (note to self: do NOT let that happen again) and noticed that my legs had been hijacked by a cartographer.

Nobody had asked me, but there they were: hundreds of inches of highways and byways etched onto my skin from my lower thighs to my ankles. The good news: I no longer needed my GPS. The bad news: I now had spider veins.

I rushed to find sound, reliable medical information on the phenomena. This, of course, meant I googled it.

And immediately learned that, once again, I was cursed because of my sex.

The first hit was “women’s health.”

“Is life fair?” I ask.

“No, it is not,” I answer.

Because it doesn’t happen to most men – who don’t usually wear skirts and almost never wear pantyhose. No – but even if they did they are allowed the luxury of a furry blanket of hair that covers any spider veins they might, on the rare occasion, develop.

Not so women.

Because this is just another little fringe benefit of our gender:

We get them standing up.
We get them sitting down.
We get them here and there.
We get them everywhere.
From puberty to pregnancy,
to pausing menses you will see,
our hormones mean catastrophe!

In the pill or HRT,
for women, it’s just meant to be.
Estrogen, progesterone,
and age (the factors widely known)
will give to most us lucky “shes”
a spider vein filled destiny:
legs designed by Rand McNally!

Should I Go or Should I Stay

I have a high school reunion coming up. Many, many moons have passed since I’ve seen or spoken to any of my former classmates. I was not popular – more like invisible. Most of them probably didn’t even know who I was. I considered going because I was curious: whatever happened to the people who spent 12 years in Catholic schools with me, being tortured by bizarre rituals like “lent” and daily mass? Were they left scarred and twisted into something unrecognizable?

Then I saw pictures from the last reunion. I didn’t recognize anyone. In a panic, I sent copies to my friends. “Please,” I begged, “please tell me I don’t look like this!”

Being good friends, they did the only thing any good friend could do. They lied.

I decided to go even though I didn’t know anyone in those pictures. I could combine the 800 mile trip with a visit to my brother’s family and then to my daughter who had recently moved to the east coast.

I exchanged emails with the self-declared head of the reunion committee. Who refused to identify any other committee members. Or allow me to communicate with them.

And thus commenced a battle which reinforced two indisputable laws of nature: 1) you can’t go home again; and 2) you can leave the high school, but, for some people, the high school never leaves you.

June 6th The “save the date” announcement:

The cost is going to be between $85-$100 per person … the cost includes:  Hors d’oeuvres, main entrees, cold displays, fruits, veggies and dips, cheese board, deserts, coffee and tea. For those of you who thought the last reunion was too expensive, I am truly sorry. We are trying our best to have a nice event at the best price we can.

Dear Lord, that’s enough food to choke Godzilla! What is she thinking? If people are worried about the cost, why doesn’t she just cut out some of the food and lower the price? Or have a pot-luck?

I try to be diplomatic.

June 8th Me: I wasn’t at the last reunion so don’t what the cost was or why people were upset about it – but the price you listed seems fair if it includes beer/wine. (my SIL had her reunion a few years back – it cost $75 per person and included a buffet dinner, full bar, DJ, Photographer, and organizer costs for the mailings and supplies).

Where will the reunion be held? In looking over the description, the only thing that struck me was that it did seem like an awful lot of food – I wouldn’t mind less food. Most of us are struggling with our weight.

June 10th The QB (as in Queen Bee, not football): The reunion will be at [Fancypants] Manor.  More info to come. Prices have gone up.  Couldn’t find anyplace for $75 this year.

August 8th The QB announcement: We have tried to keep the cost down to the best of our ability, taking into account the direct and indirect costs of putting on a reunion gathering. $95.00 per person. Menu: fried, fried, sauced, and fried with six entrées. Cash Bar. Please respond no later than September 13, 2012.

Seriously??? That’s keeping the cost down? $95? For an array of food in a quantity and assortment that causes a coronary just looking at it? Six entrées? Who needs six entrées? Plus hotel for anyone who can still afford the bar and has to get a room???

Is she insane? People just won’t come!

I still try to be diplomatic.

August 10th Me: I’m writing to ask you to reconsider the menu and price for the big event … you said that people thought [the last reunion] was too expensive and that keeping the price down was important. So I was surprised to open my email and find the price would be $95 plus a cash bar. That seems a little pricey. I’m asking you to consider changing the menu to reduce the price and make it more appealing (and affordable) to a wider number of people. I think more people will be willing/able to attend.

August 13th QB: We try to take in everyone’s concerns into consideration for the next time around, if there are voiced concerns. In regard to the menu, we picked the best options. We did try to keep the price down the best we could. The last reunion was $80 per person, and an increase of $15 over 5 years is really not too bad.

Whoa! That’s almost a 20% increase! What planet is she from where “that’s not too bad”???

I sense diplomacy is about to go out the window.

August 14th Me: With just a few simple changes the event will be more accessible to more people. Which means the turn out would go up. Isn’t that the real goal? An event that many people can attend and enjoy? I doubt most people will say anything on the subject … I fear many will simply choose not to attend.

August 14th QB: I am truly sorry you are not happy with the choices. We will be keeping your ideas that you presented for the next reunion in 5 years.

Ha! Like I’m ever coming back to one of these things! I try anyway.

August 14th Me: I’m willing to not eat and instead pay my share of the non-food expenses you listed (set up, renting the place for the night, taxes, maitre d’) and the indirect costs (phone calls, form printing, postage, paper for the printing of the class directory and updates, ink for the printing, name tags, and table decorations) which, added to the food, brought the total to $95 per person. I’m assuming since you were able to calculate the final price you must already have an itemized list of those expenses. Can you tell me what that would be? How many people do you think will come?

August 14th QB: Actually we have a lot of people that have said they were coming.  We have also not had anyone else voice concerns about the menu.

In summary:

– Your recommendations will be taken into great consideration for the next  reunion
– I am sorry you are unhappy with the choices of food.
– We cannot change the menu at this time.
– We cannot decrease the price of the event for you

The decision is now yours as to whether you want to attend or not.

Double ha! She won’t tell me how many – I bet it’s what I said in the first place: people aren’t coming! I wait.

September 11th QB: (two days before the due date) To all alumni … For those that have not responded, please do so as soon as possible.

I find out the numbers from a different source. Number attending (including spouses): 30. Guaranteed minimum: 75. Graduating class size? 200+

September 21st QB: Alumni reminder … There are many people who mentioned that they were attending, but I still have not received anything. [Surprise, surprise.] Please respond ASAP.  If you are attending, please send your check to me no later than September 28th.


So the question remains: do I want to buy a meal I can’t eat in a room full of people who don’t know who I am?

It would be just like high school!

Kafka Was Here

I went to visit an elderly relative in an assisted living facility. Everyone who lives there is an elderly person with varying degrees of hearing, visual, physical and/or cognitive impairments. In other words, they generally are not safe to be on their own. Which is why they live in an assisted living facility.

Today was flu shot day. The residents were urgently rounded up at 12:45 p.m. and herded to the common dining room because “the people” (no – I never learned who they are) were there to give them their shots. The shots that had been scheduled to begin at 1 p.m.

Keep in mind that these are elderly, infirm people who don’t have time to waste (they don’t have much left) and should never be asked to urgently do anything.

I went with my relative and sat waiting with the group. The shot people didn’t come. At 1:05 I went searching for them.

I asked a staff member where they were. She told me they’d already finished.

I explained no, they hadn’t even started.

Then she told me they were on their way.

I returned to the dining room. They hadn’t arrived.

At 1:15, I heard the squeaky wheels of their cart rolling down the hall.

They began to process the residents.

Processing involved asking questions:

1. Have you ever had an anaphylactic reaction to latex?
2. Have you ever had an anaphylactic reaction to eggs and/or egg products?
3. Are you allergic to Thimerosal?
4. Are you exhibiting symptoms other than mild coughing, runny nose and/or diarrhea?
5. Do you have a history of Guillain-Barré Syndrome?
6. Have you ever had a serious reaction after receiving the influenza and/or pneumonia vaccine?
(for women) 7. Are you pregnant?

The shot people asked the questions with a straight face.

Did I mention that most of the residents can’t see, hear or remember a damn thing?

Answers: What? Huh? What’s that? What? What’s that? Huh? (pondering) I don’t think so.

Then came time to sign the consent form.

You need to sign here.
See that line?
The line right here where my finger is pointing.
No, I can’t see it.
Can you put your initials here?
You really can’t see that?

Did I mention some of them are legally blind?

Immediately after receiving a shot, each resident left the area.

The shot people watched them go.

In fine print at the bottom of the form which none of the residents could read: “I agree to remain in the general area for at least 15 minutes after receiving the vaccine.”

A man growing old becomes a child again. Sophocles

Or dates one. Wisconsin Wit

I won’t say how old I am, but I am old enough to know better.  And one of the things I know better is than to date someone more than a decade younger – less depending on the dater’s age. If, for example, the “dater” is twenty, than the “datee” shouldn’t be younger than age 18. (Unless the “dater” wishes to risk “death by Dad” or a jail term.)  The window expands as the age increases until the gap reaches a maximum ten year age difference.

This is reasonable and greatly reduces the chance of embarrassing mishaps like a waiter asking if your great-granddaughter would like a lollipop. This happens. Really. Ask Hugh Hefner.*

It also means you might actually have something in common with the other person on the date, some familiar points of reference in the cultural universe instead of trying to bridge a generation gap answering awkward questions like “Al Gore? Who’s he” or “Jane Fonda? Isn’t she that lady in the adult diaper commercials?” And that’s before you even start to talk about music and learn the “datee” thinks any music from before 2010 is an “Oldies” tune. And then there’s the problem of finding an age appropriate activity that both parties can enjoy without going to an emergency room. Or of both being able to stay awake through dinner.

Look at almost any rich and famous male and then check out his companion. (And please note that when it’s an older woman-younger man people never say, “She’s a stud!” – it’s always something like, “She’s pathetic” or, more commonly, “Eeeewwww!!!!!”)

Which brings me to George Clooney.

I entered a contest in which the prize was two tickets to an exclusive private party at George’s home along with a gazillion other lucky winners. I could enter on-line, once a day, every day, during the time period the contest was open. I entered every day. (It turns out the President Obama would be there too but who cared? Sorry, Barry.)

I knew I would win. I didn’t. But if I had won, I knew exactly what I would have said to him when we were introduced. “George, it’s lovely to meet you. I’m a big fan. Why do you date children?”

George is 51 years old.  Granted he looks good for his age. He looks much better than he did at 20, or 30, or 40. That’s another one of those double standard things that kicks women in the butt. Men can get better with age. Women just age. But that’s another post.

The point is that he’s gray and grizzled. And under the ten year rule he should be dating women between the age of 41 and 61.

Instead, he dates a series of children. Presently it’s a 32 year old. Before that it was a 30 year old. Before that it was another 30 year old.

Yes, they’re all slender and photogenic. Yes, none of them have cellulite or stretch marks. But seriously, doesn’t he ever wonder why none of his relationships last?  Like maybe dating people who weren’t born until after he got out of high school might have something to do with it?

And then there’s that whole oedipal thing, which is another good reason for the ten year cutoff. I would never want to date anyone young enough to be my child. Not only does it completely creep me out, I would be spending my time correcting their manners and telling them to sit up straight. And would seriously wonder about the mental health of anyone willing to date someone that much older. Like thinking maybe they had some issues.

George – really – what did you think when your ex said, “he has been special for me, and very important, just as a father would be … between us there was more of a father-daughter relationship.”

George, all I am saying is give age a chance.

The fact that I’m in your optimum range has nothing to do with it.

*Yes, I know there are rare exceptions to the rule – there are ALWAYS exceptions unless we’re talking about gravity – but they still get weird comments from waiters.

Will it never end?

It’s bad enough that women are valued for their looks more than anything else. (Don’t believe me? I have two words for you: Megan Fox. Even if she won a Nobel Prize,  you think anyone would ever mention it?) And if it’s not true, why do all the female police detectives on television walk around with their shirts open to your imagination? And why do we never see male “beauty pageants”?

But at least it used to be that once we hit the ripe old age of 30 we could put all that behind us because we were old and over the hill (unlike men, who improve with age, we just age). And then 30 became the new 20 and we had to put up with the nonsense for another decade before, with a blessed sigh of relief, we could blow out 40 candles, stop sucking in our gut and hang up our stilettos.

And then it got worse. Forty became the new 30. Then 50 became the new 40. And all of this kept happening as I reached each of the milestones so I’ve never caught a break and fear that soon 60 will be the new 50.

It’s not fair. Not just because maybe it should be about our talent and abilities and accomplishments  or being judged on one’s character instead of outer appearance, but because real women who aren’t genetic freaks of nature actually look their age. Gravity and time take a certain toll. And it’s even worse if you’ve had children.

Raising children ages parents several decades. Bearing children converts a firm, shapely female form into a deflated sack of sagging cellulite. Think of a new balloon. Fresh from the bag, it’s smooth and taut. Blow it up once. Let the air out. It begins to show sign of use. Blow it up again. Let the air out. And perhaps again. And dear sweet mother of god that’s exactly what happens to a woman’s body parts and exactly what those body parts look like after repeated cycles of inflation and deflation. And no amount of crunches or push-ups or squats is ever going to put it back the way it was.

“But what about all those images of sexy Hollywood mommas?” you may ask. “What about all those ‘People’ magazine covers showing all those ‘rockin’ post-baby bikini bods?”

I have three answers: 1) genetic freak; 2) unlimited funds; and 3) Photo Shop.

If one is not #1, one can use #2 to try to look like #1. Enter the personal trainer, personal chef and personal cosmetic surgeon (the last of which might not be such a good idea).

But those tools can only do so much. Without the help of #3, even Julia Roberts doesn’t really look like Julia Roberts. And if she doesn’t, what chance do the rest of us have?

I’ll tell you: none.

And if you weren’t already depressed enough by that, along come multiple media efforts conspiring to remind you that for a woman, it’s all about how she looks, no matter what her age. It started with More, the magazine targeting the over 40 woman, which launched a “40+Model Search” which became the “More Beauty Search” in 2010. By odd coincidence, the winners are all beautiful, thin, youthful looking women. And in case I was too obtuse to understand the importance of those qualities, the many stimulating articles offered in the magazine should enlighten me as to where my priorities should lie:

Forever Young: Expert Tips for Aging Gracefully
Key Pieces to Dress Younger
Victoria‘s Secret: My Life in Catalogs
Chris Benz’s Tips for Dressing Younger
27+ Anti-Aging Superfoods
Editors’ Picks: 12 Activities That Keep Us Young

And if these intellectually challenging pieces by the brightest minds of our era don’t convince you, along comes a website called “fab over fifty.” That’s right, at you can learn the importance of being young and beautiful for at least another decade, if not longer. Offering in-depth cutting edge stories like “Does your belly fat make you crazy?” and “Affordable Anti-Agers That Really Work”,  the website allows you the freedom to focus on the really important things: trying to stay young and beautiful.

Of course that requires the right products. For example, “the new BMR Beauty Series System for Faboverfifty. This patented device uses medical-grade technology to firm and lift the muscles in your upper arms, tummy and tush.” Yes, you, too, can enter to be one of 20 testers of products which look remarkably like products in a fetish catalogue.

But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe it’s not all as shallow and sexist and controlling as it seems. Maybe there is no conspiracy. After all, More is “for women of style & substance” and Fab Over Fifty is “where women of substance share their style.”

Wait a minute …