The world is crazier than most people know. But I know. I was a clinical social worker for forty years. I am a witness. I retired from social work to write about the sad, the mad, and the savage; with whom I have spent most of my life. I have decided to translate these stories into fiction, because, as a co-worker once said, "You couldn't make this sh*t up. No one would believe you."

Friday, January 7, 2011

What Everyone is Thinking But No One Wants to Talk About

No, not sex. Everyone talks about that.

I was talking about aging, especially for women. Women in their fifties and sixties are torn between feeling young, looking old and thinking they should accept that situation and not bitch. Talking points:

1. If women don't bitch, they will blow up.
2. Why shouldn't we bitch about feeling young and looking old? What a bummer!

One of the online chat groups I check in with had a guilt ridden post from a soon to be middle aged woman who found herself at work suddenly paired with a young bombshell. With many apologies and gut wrenching self doubt, she complained of feeling old and unattractive. Well, folks, I have to tell you I have never seen so many responses to anything since Keith Olbermann's suspension.

Lessons learned:

  • aging is tough on humans
  • even tougher on female humans
  • no one likes it
  • and people DO care, even if they say they don't
  • only the very old don't care about looking old
  • only the very rich care about looking distinguished
  • and they want to look YOUNG and distinguished
  • the "crone" group is a bunch of weird ass old hippie chicks
  • that no one listened to even when they were young
  • and women, for the most part, want to look attractive until they die.
Okay, define attractive:

Attractive = not old.

I didn't make the world, I just live in it. And while I think it's terrible that we in America vilify old age and make oldsters invisible, we are a youth worshipping culture. Despite the fact that decent young men give their seats to old ladies on the subway, and grey panthers aside, for the most part to be old is to be powerless. 

Now, I don't hold with the worship of twenty year old T&A. This is mostly because I'm not a man. But I honestly believe most men don't think twenty year old T&A is the only kind of beauty either. In Europe, mature women are considered very desirable. And even in America, where men are not as stupid as they want us to think they are, attractive mature women are considered, well, attractive.

So women at least, are into Life 2.0. They just don't know what it is, exactly, or how to get there. But they want it. They want a vibrant second stage of life, not a long haul of invisibility until they really are little old ladies. With good health, regular exercise, a bottle of hair dye, a little drink at night and an occasional visit to the spa or the plastic surgeon, women can look as good as they feel as long as they care about it. 

And that's a lot longer than people are willing to talk about. Social Security is still sobbing about the fact that most of us will live to be 90. I for one, don't want to get ugly at 60 and stay there until 90. And most men, too, don't want to get fat and weak at 60 and stay there until 90.

And neither, I'll bet, do most people out there.

Here's to boogie forever. 


  1. As a female sexist, I am not sure most of the men I know care as much as women about getting fat and old, particularly if they have money. Oh, they care about the overly large man boobs, or the bulging stomach if it sticks out farther than their erect manhood (or it is hidden by it) and will do something about it if they can afford it. But men are less into how healthy they are until the onset of the first heart attack as a rule. I like to look as good as I can, more importantly I like to be as healthy as I can because the idea of aging badly scares the crap out of me. I don't want to be one of the elderly ladies who sit around entering their particular illness into that weeks competition, or be in the running to see who dies first. I want to look as good as I can and be as healthy as I can, so I will be able to live as happily as I can. So, now that I quit the job that was eating my time up, I walk farther (to say nothing of the young dog I have to walk farther with). I am eating healthier meals that I now have time to prepare (Church's chicken is mourning my loss), I have started using the bowflex which has been a room ornament for the last few years and hoping the aching upper body parts will eventually strengthen and not ache so much (curse you sister Jane). The end result is that I feel better. have lost seven pounds, and look better. And I have noticed something funny: at mixed age group gatherings, the "cutie booty' boys (and sometimes girls as well) are often eager to hang with us oldies; we are funny, ribald, dance well enough, are attractive enough, have interesting opinions (often backed by facts), and say what we think. In other words, tough and fun. Someday, in about two years, if I can scrape together the money, I will have a neck lift (since I hate turkey wattles, which are threatening to form....) But I like this face; I have had it for so long that it is comfortable. Ditto for all my other parts.

  2. Aging really doesn't bother me. I'm a go-with-the-flow type guy. I'd hate to have some awful disease, lose my wits or be in chronic pain. But what will be, will be. Right now, I feel great, and that's all that matters.