Most of the time I don’t ponder on my age, and it’s probably because I’m at a place in my life when I feel good about my body and mind. I know my quirks—such as the arthritis in my lumbar region that strangely doesn’t impede my ability to run three miles a day. And when I have trouble finding a word, I use the built-in thesaurus on my MacBook. With tools and time, aging doesn’t have to get in the way, or serve as an impediment (and I found that word, by looking up ‘block’ on my thesaurus).
And I enjoy other aspects of this next stage of my life. Our four children are grown, and the youngest that still lives at home, is fully self-contained. She drives, does her own laundry and the communal dishes, and I don’t have to remind her about keeping the bathroom clean. She has a dog and picks up his little dog crap surprises, and never asks me to babysit.
But today, just today, I got to thinking about aging. Maybe it was that young man in Trader Joe’s who thought he was doing me a favor by commenting, when I plopped that bottle of Milagro tequila on the counter, “Ma’am, I don’t know if you’re quite old enough to drink that.”
Are you kidding me? I thought. Is my husband here? Maybe he paid this schmuck to imply that someone should be carding me—something that hasn’t occurred since I was 20 (the carding, that is; the last time Clifford paid a checker to card me, I was 34, and it was Mother’s Day).
But what I said, in all seriousness, was, “Young man, I have been legal to drink for over 30 years.” It was real satisfying watching him walk away with his tail between his legs. (Eh, well? He has to come up with a better line than that. The last time I got a line from a younger man at Trader Joe’s, it was some clerk in the wine aisle who said to me, with a grin and nod, “Welcome to my world!” I replied, “Oh…so…so you’re a wino?” My husband claims I’m a MILF—an American Pie reference—but I’m too sarcastic to be a MILF. Nobody would want to F a Mean Mother).
And then, what I realized is that I’d just told this kid that I’m at the very least 51. In truth, I’m 49, but come on, what is thirty years, exactly? A wonderful marriage, and interesting relationships that evolve into either gold or dust? Thirty years ago, it was a tough call. At that time in my life, there were some people who were accustomed to me keeping my thoughts to myself, so when I aged and gained confidence, and began to speak out and voice my opinions, there was suddenly something very wrong with me, mentally. I understood it as growth, and maturity, that sort of wisdom and temperance you acquire with experience.
Our daughter, Stephanie, the one who still lives at home with Mom and Dad, spent the evening with my husband, Clifford, and I, while we looked at audio equipment at Guitar Center. Clifford is a professional musician, and has been researching downsizing his current sound equipment. Most of what we have is older gear, JBL G and MR series passive speakers, and QSC power amps, that, though far lighter than the old Crown amps, still require the use of a hand truck to cart it from van to stage. As Clifford told the salesman, “We’re getting older. I don’t want to carry a speaker that weighs 40 pounds.”
The JBL EOS set-up sure looked good, with speakers weighing in at 14 pounds. Real delectable for older people with arthritis (me) of the spine, and who can barely lift a 30-pound container of cat litter. But after using Tanoys and birch cabinet JBLs—you know, high quality equipment, regardless of the vintage—I’m sorry to say, the EOS sounded like…well, crap; little dog crap surprises.
Following our foray to Guitar Center, we visited Costco, because, hell, what else is there to do on a Friday night? Especially when you’re 18, and you’re hanging out with Mom and Dad. For the first fifteen minutes in Costco, we actually walked through the entire liquor section without putting one thing in our cart. Our son would say that’s quite an accomplishment for people who drink. Yep, but you see, I have a 1.75 liter jug of Hennessey waiting for me at home, now that Lent is officially over. After that, all we had in the damn cart was a bag of Brussel sprouts, because we’re such dynamic, exciting people. And Stephanie got to buy her container of cinnamon rolls, and that bag of candy, as long as she could withstand (or ignore) the sexual innuendos that old people—e.g., her parents—can’t seem to keep shut about.
Mom (to Dad, in Guitar Center): Small equipment is fine, I guess. But I really prefer your larger, heavier equipment, because it’s so much more fun to work with!
Dad (to Mom, in Costco): Hey, hon! Look at those melons!
Mom (to Dad, looking down at her chest): Oh, yeah? Take a look at these melons!
I mean, after a while, there’s really no effort at all trying to disguise blatant sexual conversation in reference points.
And that, folks, is the beauty of getting old(er). (as she lifts her jug of cognac in salute): Here’s to Peter and Wendy Pan: may they never grow up.