adulthood, viewed from sufficiently previous, seems to the average youth as one vast tract of dotage and decline. i think this impression clouds our perceptions and judgments far longer than we might otherwise consider, but by the time 50 starts to appear on the proximate horizon, and we're right there in the mathematical middle of it, some subtle distinctions do become apparent.
first is that some people "our age" just don't seem to age well. we know this from any number of symptoms and presumed causes, from the leathery rhino hide that follows an excess of sun and cigarettes, (frequently abetted by a surfeit of alcohol, and don't you just cringe the hardest when the wrinkles settle most prominently upon the lips), to the wattles of flesh that hang so pendulously from beneath the arms whenever they're raised. ("bingo wings" never fails to crack me up). of course, the most inexorable of age-related scourges has to be the thickening combination of inactivity and caloric overindulgence, that stamps itself like a corpulent plague upon almost everybody these days, or so it would seem. add unwanted hair loss, unwanted hair gain, and all the sagging, graying and decaying you can't possibly miss, even with the bad rugs and bad dye jobs and bad plastic surgery heaped upon it to try to deny it and cover it all up, and you have a perfect recipe for nightmares and nausea.
and, yet, we, the aging generations of america, all losing our eyesight and our hearing and our tastebuds and sense of smell, growing numb to the world around us and its effects upon our bodies, still think we and all our friends look good. we read a list as is contained in the previous paragraph, and we tick off the elements of which we believe we are either innocent or free. "well, at least i've never had plastic surgery", as if somehow that changes something about us. ever look at a 40-something woman from above? (easier if you're taller). gray roots. ever consider a 40-something guy's ears and nose? (yeah, not as easy with all that hair starting to grow out of 'em). it's not a pretty picture.
so what am i really saying here? do i hate myself? or just everybody i know?
27 still looks good to 47. it still looks familiar, (it really wasn't all that long ago), and it still tantalizes despite the "old enough to be your..." comment that will become inevitable if one pushes the conversation even a little bit. but forget cougars and "distinguished", you know that 90% of the young 'uns would sooner hurl than be able to keep their supper down if presented with such a situation in a public context. (in view of all their friends--we all know that all sorts of other skeevy stuff is not unknown to happen behind closed doors, so lets not pretend too much in that direction, either, but i'm just sayin').
i think the disconnect is not between ourselves and the world, but it's between ourselves and our self. we rationalize the declines of those around us as some sort of mitigation for our own, and we pump ourselves up with excuses for why a piece of clothing no longer fitting isn't a warning. and we eat like we always have, (sometimes worse), and we take that last flight of stairs off without an apology because our knees hurt or our backs are a little balky, and, besides, we just don't feel like it. we can always take it another time.
i don't know about you, but i want to be the 47 year old on whom the 27 year olds don't have to feign disinterest. (didn't say i was, or that i expected to be, i'm just acknowledging that i want to be, that's all). i think we'd all like to be that. just not enough to put down that second glass of whatever, and get up off whatever it is we're sitting on and move around a little.
well, today, as fit as i am, i'm admitting here that i'm not. i sent away for the bathroom scale, because i'm empirical and it helps me to know cause and effect, and i'm going to find some way to make a difference within myself. years and years of trying to be a better person, it's about time i gave my better person a little present of vitality and longevity. cue the eye rolls, because i already play soccer and don't look nearly so far gone as many of my contemporaries, but i'm not going to be satisfied until some 27 year old (some FIT 27 year old, as i've gotta say the present generation of 'em worries me not just a little bit) pronounces me confused with 35.
yup, 35. i'm figuring 8 years is within the ballpark for unashamed booty calls, so there's that, but mostly i'm just using that as a goal whose realization is never going to be the point. by the time i put the time in to approximating 35, i'll be north of 55 and lucky to be dreaming about 40. and so it will go. 'cuz it's not the number that matters, when all is said and done. it's can i vault the 10 flights 2 at a time and still be there with my kids or my companion(s) when i reach the top? will i be living a life worth living when i'm living it towards the far end of this adult spectrum?
i dare you to take an honest review of your closet. (your clothes don't shrink or lie). your bathroom mirror. (you may need your glasses for this one). your decisions when it comes to standing or sitting, walking or riding, or reaching for that last bite or swallow of whatever. and if that doesn't work for you, then just walk up to the next 27 year old you meet in a bar and watch their expression carefully as you engage them in conversation. don't give yourself the free pass if they're alone and they're coincidentally tuned into your sexual indiscretion. (that goes for you too, guys). check out the side glances to and from their friends while you're there. they should tell you a lot. if you can hear them.