Sage: At what point are we
'old?' A humorous quiz
At what point are you officially ‘old?’ A few couples got together last weekend and enjoyed a spirited discussion about this question. Is there an age cutoff? Are you officially old when you receive Social Security or Medicare? When you retire? When you become frail? When you surpass life expectancy? Or is this, as so many people say, simply a state of mind? The United Nations says that ’65-plus years may be usually denoted as old age.’ In your opinion, when does geezerhood really begin?
– A 75-year-old kid in Orlando
None of these milestones is definitive. However, the Sage believes that anyone who exhibits 20 or more of the following manifestations can proudly declare himself or herself beyond, um, late middle age:
• Driving 20 mph below the speed limit in a 25-mph zone.
• Never getting away from the dinner table without major grease spots on your shirts, pants and the carpeting. Plus, your daughter puts plastic covers on her dining room chairs, saying that the little ones can be pretty messy, and then you remember that you don’t have grandkids yet.
• Looking at a gorgeous actress or handsome actor on TV and thinking, 'Boy, what nice nostrils – and, oh, those earlobes!'
• Watching TV constipation commercials and thinking, ‘No! Not her! She’s only 70! She’s beautiful – what on earth does she have to be constipated about?’
• Starting to jot down a list of issues for your next doctor visit and realizing that it would be easier to note the things that don’t hurt.
• Taking cash out of your wallet to pay for everything –gas, groceries, clothing, a new Cadillac.
• Noticing that your eyebrows are as dense as the Tongass National Forest in Alaska – and not caring one whit.
• Drowning out the blaring TV with your creaking joints when you get up to use the bathroom during an evening rerun of the Golden Girls, waking your spouse, who’s been in a deep sleep for an hour on the couch.
• Wishing that your favorite local greasy spoon offered an early bird breakfast at 4:30 a.m., until you think it through and realize that it takes you three hours to get going in the morning.
• Groaning when you bend down, get up, and even when you sit still, lie down or sleep.
• Hauling out a two-inch-thick Icelandic wool sweater once the temperature dips below 90.
• Talking about your ailments with everyone – your hairdresser, your neighbor, your kids, the cop who stopped you for going 5 mph in a 25-mph zone.
• Calling everyone ‘Hey’ or ‘Well, son of a gun’ or ‘Look who’s here’ because you can’t remember their names at that moment.
• Not recognizing any of the top 10 songs from the last 20 years and guessing that Kanye West is an airline.
• Buying several pairs of the same ugly vinyl orthopedic shoes that your grandmother wore when she was a hundred and sixty-two.
• Complaining about everything – that bad night’s sleep, slow traffic, a shortage of Ring Dings in the cake section of the grocery store, your bunions, and absolutely everything your spouse does.
• Looking surprised when a neighbor asks you how many times you’ve complained about the barking next door from the creature that’s bigger than a St. Bernard, with a head like Darth Vader and a gravelly, thunderous roar that seems to emanate from the farthest reaches of his digestive system. Your response: Bark? What bark?
• Taking three naps a day and complaining that you can’t sleep at night.
• Calling your doctor ‘Kid.’
• Making dinner plans with ten couples, hoping that one of them will be energetic enough to join you.
• Being politically incorrect and not caring, such as meeting a new person in your community and telling him that he reminds you of Fred Flintstone, or grumbling to the funeral director that your dearly departed cousin Marvin looks like Carol Channing.
• Drinking half a glass of wine and waking up feeling like you did when you used to drink four bottles.
• Getting charged double at the barber’s because he has to shave your ears.
• Finding your eyeglasses in the freezer and the car keys in your underwear drawer.
To the Kid in Orlando, that should pretty much do it. Here’s hoping that you can identify with 19 or fewer of these items. To your health, your driving skills, your outlook on life, your car keys, and Carol Channing.