Act Your Age

Posted: March 29, 2010 in humor, Life
Tags: , , ,

I saw a gorgeous woman today.  She had to be in her 50’s but…she had a gorgeous presence about her.  An elegance and wonderful shine to her that wouldn’t quit.  Right away I surprised myself by giving into an impulse – to check her left hand for a ring.

It wasn’t just that she was svelte, or that she took such great and obvious care of her physique, her clothing and her hair.  I mean, that was all part of the package, but…she had a body language that spoke of confidence, of girlishness without compromise, regret or apology. 

I saw all of that within ten seconds.  She was on a mission somewhere and so was I.   We’ll likely never meet again.

Later on, I saw a comment on a friend’s Facebook wall, written by a stranger:  “the only thing worse than someone dressing their age is someone dressing as if they were still the age you want them to be.  Look in your closets people!  We all grow old…”

What utter shit!  There’s so much wrong with that statement, and I don’t mean just the grammar.  Basically what that’s telling me, is that when I get to be age 60, I should be prepared to put on a pair of old man’s pants, hike them up to my nipples and therefore be prepared in case of an ad hoc flood or two.

And women should just dye their hair blue, find the most baggy Mrs. Roper outfit they can find, and sit around blinking their Betty Davis eyes in constant surprise.  That is, when they’re not out playing bingo with their troll dolls.

Don’t get me wrong – I have an idea of what the guy was talking about.  I’ve seen all kinds of people wearing spandex, when they really really really shouldn’t.  I just think he took his point about a mile too far.

Someone once said that every time they look in the mirror, they’re shocked.  They expect to see a 20-something person looking back at them and can’t understand why a 40-something face is staring at them.    No worries, folk – you won’t read me saying something as abhorrent as “you’re only as old as you feel” or “she’s 953 years young”.  Nope.  You won’t read that here.

The fact is though – in our society we have a tendency to hurry the process.   Why does a 31-year old girl feel the need to wear dowdy clothing, and sport a coiffure worthy of Phyllis Diller?   It happens.  It really does.  It’s so disappointing and sad.   She obviously feels this is how she should look.  Someone fed her a line of bullshit and she scooped it up with a spoon.

I’m convinced it starts when we’re young, when some well-meaning but exasperated parent says “act your age!”.   When they say that, we have no point of reference, do we?  We hear that and we process it as “act older”.   And once we start down that road, we don’t know when to stop.   So many of us end up interpreting it as “stop growing, start aging already.”

Prepare yourself.  There’s a wide open grave with your name on it.   Get ready to jump.  Got your will in order?  Do you have any money in the bank to leave for the kids?  We’re going to give you a warning signal, so that you can get a running start.  When I say the word “retirement”, then…GO!!!  Run as fast to the cemetary as your wrinkled feet will go.  Smell the flowers?  FUCK the flowers!  That headstone won’t wait forever.

Fellow bloggers and readers, let me tell you something.  Indulge me, OK?  This won’t take long.

When a friend of mine talked me into taking improvisational comedy courses, she had no idea what it would do to me.   Performing in front of others was OK as long as it was scripted.   But this wasn’t scripted.  We were told to use our imagination.  Play.  Pretend we were someone else.  Build a history, and work within that character to create a scene with one or two or bunch of other people. 

“But….what if I don’t have any ideas?”

“Well.  Let’s see. Were you ever a kid?  I mean, ever in your life – did you at any time arrive at the age of five, seven or nine?”


“Remember what you did back then?  Remember how you formed characters and situations and you played them with your friends with all seriousness, as if your character was real?  Remember how much fun that was?”


“It’s just like that.  Children just let go.  They have no social filters.   They adopt and drop characters like crazy, just doing whatever comes into their minds.  Their main purpose is to have fun.  That’s what you have to do.  Become a kid again.”

You know what?  *smiling*  It worked.  I mean, sure we – I – looked as goofy as hell.  I began not to care though – this was too much fun.  I had learned what it meant to be a kid again.  And now I can’t shut it off, even if I wanted to.   I’ll blurt stuff out in serious meetings sometimes.  Others will look at me as if I’ve lost my marbles (and heck – maybe I have).   That stunned silence lasts for a few seconds until the laughter starts.   Fun.  So much fun.

The second thing:  my most favourite book ever is a small novel called “Jitterbug Perfume”.  I recommend it to anyone and everyone (and have mentioned even here in these blogs at least a couple of times).   I don’t know if the author intended this or not, but the book has acted as elixir of youth, not just for me but for countless people who have eyes to read.   I’m not spoiling it too much when telling you that the main character – a king named Alobar – makes a decision that he’s not going to age. 

It’s a decision anyone can make, when you get right down to it.   It flies in the face of science, and more importantly, of tradition.  Who said tradition was the be-all and end-all arbiter of our progress anyway?  Scientists will tell you that not everything that can be known is known.  They do know we only use about 10% of our brains. 

So why the rush to the grave anyway?  Who do we accommodate when we do this?  Not ourselves, certainly, and not our families either.  Something to consider. 

If I decide I’m going to dress up in wide-cuff bell bottoms, dye my hair purple and green, and put some piercings in my face, just because I want and need to express myself that way, who is anyone to tell me I’m not socially acceptable? 

If you decide to do something outlandish, like the 80-year old woman who had never sky-dived and had suddenly decided this was something she needed to do, who is ANYONE to tell her to act her age?

Aging is for lazy wimps.  It’s for other people.  Not you.  Not me.

  1. Hello Wolf,

    I agree with you main point, if I can figure out what it is. 8)

    This is a great post on enjoying aging!!!

    Re the subject of getting your posts, I have had problems with that issue also. I also seem to have to enter every bit of my info every time I respond to you. Your new site does not automatically recognize me or my Roger’s Place. I have tried every way I know how to get your site to recognize mine but to no avail.

    Are you rejecting me? I am sooooo hurt. 8)

    But keep up the good work and I will keep tracking you down via My own Blogroll.


    • Hey Roger. Thanks for the comment on the post. I really appreciate it!

      As for the WordPress thing – I have an idea. You started following me back when the address was, and now it’s Maybe if you unfollowed me, deleted your cache and then refollowed me, it would work again. Something to try anyway.

      Or wait – did you subscribe via email? That’s what you did, isn’t it? Someone else had the same problem and she just unsubscribed and re-subscribed and now it’s working as it should.


  2. wordofabe says:

    I think this is what the mid-life crisis is all about, right? It’s when we suddenly realize that we shouldn’t have tried to grow up and we try to reverse the process to a time we were ultra-cool. For me that would be when I was about 17, as so helpfully pointed out by my Facebook friends in their recent posts of me at 17 in full Rocker regaliah. I will need a wig to make it happen again, but dog-gone it, it’s gonna be great!


    • Mmm. Not sure it’s about the regret that leads to mid-life crisis. I would rather look at it as gaining an understanding of the core of who we are; that we aren’t meant to live up to someone’s expectation of who we are, but that we look deep within to find that carefree child we used to be, and work from there.

      At least, that’s my point of view on the whole thing. You can still wear a three-piece suit, if that’s your thing, and if it truly reflects the person inside.

      Too many of us live according to what someone has told us we need to be. Those thirty-something women who dress like they’re 90 – those are the ones that stand out in my mind. Or the guys who settle comfortably into their lazy boy chairs, and gather up all the fat around their middles because it’s traditional and men *should* get fat at a certain age.


      • wordofabe says:

        Hmm. Sometimes I wish we *should*. No. I will re-state that. I wish we *could* eat cheese, butter, pasta, and cake with no effects what-so-ever. And NOT tofu cakes. Real cakes. Wait. What were we talking about? Oh yeah, cheese.


  3. Just Kate says:

    I’ve been dancing with wolves all day – or dancing with wolf. ;) It’s exactly what I needed.

    For my last birthday I climbed a tree. I’m not sure what middle-aged people are SUPPOSE to do on their birthdays nor do I care. For me, it was climb a tree in ripped jeans and it was fun! Getting down was another story. I can’t just JUMP. That has to do with the physical fact of aging and years of horseback riding and water-skiing. C’est la vie. I had the same problem in a playground swing last month. I was swinging next to this 4-year-old kid and he kept saying HIGHER, HIGHER and pretty soon, I swear we were making loops over the top of the swing-set structure. Then he just JUMPED, the little brat. I lost him when he went out of the stratosphere but caught sight of him when he plummeted down again and landed solidly on two feet with this great, big, proud grin. What did I do? I dragged my feet. Girl can’t jump. :)

    So, there’s aging and then there’s AGING. One is somewhat unavoidable and the other simply isn’t going to happen, no way no how. Abe may be at least partly right when he refers to a mid-life crises, that moment when we stop and reevaluate and realize we’re way too much like our parents and try to do a radical reverse, but I think it’s more than that. I had my middle-aged crises but it was like this thing that ripped through me and was gone. I was the same basic Katy before and after, never really grown up. :) It took me awhile to realize the truth of that. I might not see the same girl in the mirror but she’s undeniably there.

    Awhile ago, back when I was entombed by “the church” the pastor’s wife told me that my clothes were inappropriate and that I needed a hairstyle or I simply wouldn’t be taken seriously. I thought about it and rebelled. Then another one of our pastor’s wives who is gorgeous and ten years younger than me but dresses like she’s 60, said, “Don’t you think it’s time you gave up wearing worn jeans and t-shirts? Maybe you should wear sandals instead of flip-flops, and you probably shouldn’t go barefoot in church.” WHAT? Are you kidding me?

    I’m ashamed to say that I cut my hair. I CUT MY HAIR. I got it styled. UGH. It’s taken me two damn years to grow it out. Oh, and I started wearing “appropriate” dresses and shoes. I look very serious in my church badge, which I still have. I look like a proper Katy. I hate that picture. I keep it as a reminder that nobody will ever again tell me who I am or should be. I look at that picture and do not see ME.

    So, I’ll be the old lady with long hair and worn jeans with beaded earrings and flip flops, if I get to live that long, and I do intend to.

    Jitterbug Perfume, by the way, is an excellent book but you should caution people that they need to stick with it, to get past the first bit. It’s a bit like looking at a painting by Picasso. You tilt your head one way and then the other, sit down, ponder, and then suddenly you see something other than a nose on a forehead. :)

    I’ve read it through a couple of times and it’s dog-eared and underlined and highlighted and I learned a lot from it. I think I learned less about aging than I did about life in general. I love how Robbins likens our passage through life to walking through a house and opening different doors to different rooms, not knowing what you’ll find on the other side. Life’s an adventure, nothing to be afraid of. Death is another room in the house. It’s not an alien thing. He says that when he’s talking about… Oh, never mind. I’ll give it away. But that’s what *I* took away from the book. It helped me to stop being afraid of what lies ahead of me. Doesn’t mean I’m not still afraid sometimes but I have a better perspective now.

    Okay, I promise I won’t write mini-blogs in your blog comments. Whoops.


    • Wow. I read this *after* responding to Abe. You nailed exactly what I was trying to say – only you did it better, I think. You allowed the church and the people in it, to define you for a while.

      I have to tell you: I’m digging the chick with the ripped jeans and the bare feet.

      My daughter waited at a bus stop, and watched me walking on the edge of a curb, trying to maintain my balance, instead of walking on the sidewalk like normal people, and she just burst out laughing. *shrug* It’s who I am, and I know it. :)

      I’m not surprised that you got something out of Jitterbug completely different than what I got from it. I think that’s its genius. It’s a work of art, designed to reflect and enhance the reader, more than just the content of the book itself. I love it!

      And- no way do you get out of writing exactly what you want for as long as you want on my blog page, lady. I don’t care if it takes a page and a half – you just do it. Do we have an understanding? Huh? Do we? :D


      • Just Kate says:

        I like the mental picture of you balancing on the curb like that. :)

        If you’re going to threaten me *tries not to laugh* then I GUESS I’ll just write and write and write until I write myself out! I’m writing more in your blog comments than I am in my own blog. This is a good place to hang out.


  4. Susan says:

    Well, I agree & disagree. I mean, I wouldn’t want to see my mom in low rise jeans & a thong, lol. But, in all seriousness, one should dress how they want to project themselves. I mean, some people say women are “askin’ for it” when they dress slutty… that’s a horrible thing to say, but after all… in my humble opinion, your appearance is a walking advertisement for who you are… or at least who you want people to think you are. This is why I almost always just wear t-shirts & jeans. It screams “I’m average” lol. Sometimes I dress up, of course, but I’m trying to make a statement then too … “Ok, I’m a little more than average today” lol. Nah, I get what you’re saying, Wolf. Anyway, I’m thinking of making the wordpress jump… myspace is getting really stupid and I’m over it. I’ll keep you posted on my defect. XOXO


    • I’ve seen your picture when you’ve been in jeans and a t-shirt. Anyone who called you “average” would have to be blind. *laughing* Seriously: you reflect who you are, and that’s all I’m saying, really. Too many reflect what others expect us to be, and that’s just a real shame.

      I’m really hoping you make the jump to here Suz. And not just because I’d enjoy the company – you know that right? It’s just such a better vehicle for writing, that’s all.


    • wordofabe says:

      Yes, I will second Wolf on both counts.
      1) If you are average, than I am Brad Pitt,
      2)Get yo’ butt over here and write, girl!


  5. Fly away Peter Pan, fly



  6. Just Me says:

    Greatest Post Ever!!!!

    Of course I may just be saying that because Jitterbug Perfume is also my favorite book…..



    • You know what? Your comment makes me ask the question as to whether the Coen Brothers movies (for example: Raising Arizona and O Brother Where Are Thou) might also be your favourite movies.

      The reason I ask: Jitterbug jumps all over the place with wild abandon, and yet draws you in. Those two movies do the same thing – in spades. I must have watched Raising Arizona at least three or four times when it was in the theatre, and a whole bunch of times when it came to TV. I can still watch it, and get a lot of out of it. It seems to really cater to an ADD attention span. *laughing*


      • Just Me says:

        Raising Arizona is a great movie, it’s been a while since I’ve seen it though. There’s a few Coen Brothers movies that I like, my favorite has to be Fargo though, that movie is awesome! Their movies do seem to be all over the place, the latest one that I’ve seen Burn After Reading is like that.

        With Tom Robbins, if you can manage to actually read it, which can be difficult for some, it does a great job of always keeping you interested. I know they can be extremely difficult for some people to read, there is just way too much……ummmm……..just too much crammed into every sentence for some people. I LOVE that though, it keeps me going I guess.


  7. I agree!!!!!! Just look at Madonna – now that’s one power house of a lady!!!!


    • People think she’s the exception. Or that Mick Jagger is an exception. Neither of them are – they both made choices to be who they are. Neither of them gave into social expectations. I’ll bet you they can’t even tell you what social expectations are, anyway. They’ve both been fighting the current so long, no one would dare tell them “what’s expected”. Can you imagine? “Mick, my man – you need to get on those polka-dot pants and go take up golfing”.

      I can see it now.


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