I just turned f-f-f-fifty-four. Thirty years ago, I looked at my current age as far off in the future, in a land far, far away where gravity was of infinitesimal consequence. Time was something alien and against my primal mantra of I am young, I am invincible, I am the skinny girl with perky breasts. In fact, I thought getting this age only happened to other people, like my parents and ex-presidents and despicable bosses who deserved it. But not me. No, this number does not fit me.
Of course, there are signs that things aren't what they used to be. Where the firm muscles of my arms, torso, hips, and thighs used to broadcast my youthful vitality and catch-worthiness, I am now faced with the voice of Rod Serling, broadcasting that I have crossed over into . . . The Sag Zone. (If you're not old enough to remember Rod Serling, screw you.) The fast-firing synapses of my brain, which once kept my cranial performance and databanks in peak condition so that I could leap complex problems in a single bound and photographically recall who said what about whom and in what tone during a late-night drinking binge and still recall the details three months later, had vaccinated me against making such statements as:
- It's past my bedtime;
- Just one more and then cut me off; or
- But you don't even know him!
Or not. See, it's common practice to call it a brain fart, but it's really this: I am so inundated with broad-spectrum knowledge that my advanced intellectual facilities are nearing capacity. Without a back door to push out the inconsequential and traumatic (which prevents us from witnessing excess brain seepage from our geriatrics' ears), I am forced to zip-drive the trivia into a warehouse somewhere around my hippocampus where its retrieval could take days—even weeks—much like rummaging through attic boxes for one's first shooting-the-bird photo. (Yes, I started early, but in my defense, I'd been mimicking my father.)
Now where was I? Oh yes. For me, it's all about the number. When you say you're over fifty, people regard you with a piteous gaze. They try to assuage your assumed bruised ego with commentary like: But you look so much younger! Well, at least I can be thankful for good manners. If only this could be said of one's family. When mine became aware of my fiftieth birthday, it was like I had a big, waxy Number Fifty birthday candle melting all over my head, flaming everyone with the inside information that I had reached a cultural milestone. At forty, I got those black Over the Hill balloons and greeting cards depicting my nipples dangling around my ankles. That was child's play compared to the ridicule I endured my fiftieth year as the recipient of a wall-to-wall Grim Reaper banner.
I guess it might have been easier to accept my age gracefully if I hadn't been throwing myself on the ground, kicking and screaming; but I had just realized I would now be required to check off the 50-65 age box on the forms in my doctor's office—or worse, the 50+ box, a group encompassing me and all those on the cusp of fossilization.
Fifty is the new forty (or thirty!), some say. In fact, this decade is a huge disconnect between who I am, what I look like, and how I process fiber. I feel the same as I did at 29. No, I'm not kidding. The biggest difference is that I'm smarter. People, I regularly wax wisdom all over the place, as you know. I just have trouble remembering . . . uh, wait. What was I saying?
Oh yes. My age cannot possibly reveal the person I am, inside or out. The numbers do sometimes lie, or at least mislead. I'm still fun and fabulous, vibrant and vital, sexy and sentient. After all, I'm only f-f-f-fifty-four.