Growing older but no wiser

  • Tuesday, October 23, 2012


Aging is amazing. And thereís no app for that.
Letís look at the numbers: I still feel 25, but my neck looks like a wrinkled sock. I run 40 miles a week, but break out in a sweat reaching for a paper clip. My blood pressure is 80/65, but I stagger around like a drunk puppy first thing in the morning. (ďI got stiffness in the bones,Ē for Queen fans.)
Other signs of middle age: I canít read the small print on medicine bottles, which makes illness interesting. I have no-line bifocals that make me sick to my stomach. My once-normal toenails have been replaced by what appear to be goat horns. I have fat in weird places, like my inner knees and upper back. (Back fat is evil. Itís worse than cellulite.)
Getting older is a trip, butóhere comes a clichť, also known as a universal truthóI wouldnít be 19 again for anything. Nineteen is hard; youíre trying to figure out who you are and where you fit in. Fifty is easy. (Iíll actually be 52 soon, but thatís between me and AARP). Itís easy because you pretty much have the game locked down by now. Hopefully, you accept yourself, warts and all. (Look, another clichť!)
†At 19, I wasted a lot of time and energy trying to be thinner, cooler, funnier, prettier. Now, I just have to pay my bills and be a decent person, and Iím happy. Itís enough. Would I like to be a knockout like Christie Brinkley? You bet; at 58, sheís stunning. Do I want to work that hard and spend that much money? Not on your life.
To be fair, there are some perks of being 19: To lose five pounds, you just stop drinking beer for two days. Expensive perfume and makeup are superfluous when you have the glow of youth. You can buy an entire wardrobe at Forever 21 for $75. Most of all, at 19 anything seems possible.
Back then, attending college on scholarship and waiting tables, I dreamed of the day I could afford to buy whatever I wanted. You may already know this, butÖ when you can finally afford to buy what you want, you find out thereís not a lot you want. Isnít it ironic?
I donít like bling, shopping, manicures or expensive restaurants. I like to travel once a year, get moles removed, and cruise Goodwill. Thatís about it. My biggest expense is running shoes. (I also like to buy paintings on Craigslist. When I die, I expect Widdle to sell them and make a tidy profit. Say, $27.42Ö in a good market.)
Iíve found I notice small children more as I get older. Iím not sorry I never had any, but nowadays I enjoy watching them enjoy the world. Their innocence tugs at my heart. Then they start to scream or bite or shove licorice up their little noses, and I give thanks for our quiet life with a fat little dog.
Another sign of middle age: A fun Saturday night used to mean hanging out at wine bars on Wrightsville Beach, N.C. Now itís a rollicking two-hour debate with my husband about what our grandchildren will call us. We have no grandchildren, and none in the works. But it made for a lively discussion, and we laughed our heads off.
(For the record, I want to be called Sparkle, and Widdle wants to be Papa, pronounced Pay-Pay. Donít ask me, I have no idea.)
Julie R. Smith, who lies about aging gracefully, can be reached at widdleswife@aol.com.

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