Books - Mystery
  Books - Romance
  Short Stories
  Editing Services
  Contact Info

The Process of Aging Gets a Bum Rap

A short story by Sally Berneathy

One day you're young and all the world lies before you– next day you open your mail and find an invitation from AARP.


That's it. You're officially old.


Hasn't happened to you yet? Just wait. It will.


But don't rush off to the nursing home too fast! There are actually a lot of advantages to being a member of the AARP/Medicare crowd, and I'm NOT talking about those senior menu items that give you a 10% discount and 50% less food! Yeah, just when we reach an age where we don't care if we gain a couple of pounds, they want to cut our portions in half? Wrong!


The first elements of aging I'd like to discuss are wrinkles and diminished eyesight, two things people over 50 are always complaining about. Let's be real. If our eyesight was as good as when we were twenty, we'd look in the mirror and see those wrinkles! Instead, when we look in the mirror, it's like when they film Fay Dunaway through gauze and she doesn't look old…she looks romantic and dreamy. And the really good news is, our contemporaries can't see any better than we can, so we look romantic and dreamy to them, too! Just don't hang out with any young people who still have good eyesight.


Another aspect of aging that gets a bum rap is the way we can't always access data stored in our brains at Pentium speed. Someone will ask, "What was the name of that song that was pretty much the theme song of the ‘60s about Jupiter and Mars and peace and love?" And everybody looks away and kind of mumbles and changes the subject, and ten minutes later when the conversation has moved on to a discussion of which cereal has the most fiber, you suddenly retrieve that data and shout, "Age of Aquarius!" Your friends look at you a little strangely because most of them have forgotten the original question. But they're all impressed that you remembered…whatever it was you remembered.


This tendency to forget details is actually another huge benefit. Say you're out with friends and you have a little too much to drink, get up on the bar and dance The Twist, belt out a few old Peggy Lee songs. Humiliation to the nth degree. But give it a couple of days and your friends will have totally forgotten the entire incident! Not like when you were young, and months later you'd be out with those same friends, including a new guy you're trying to impress, and somebody would say, "Hey, remember when Sally drank all those Margaritas, streaked through the neighborhood naked and we had to go get her out of jail? HAHAHA!"


Retaining memories for a long time is not necessarily a desirable trait.


Another advantage of aging is that we receive recognition and awards we never got when we were young. I've been a runner for most of my adult life…an enthusiastic runner, a persistent runner, but a really bad runner. I used to do lots of those 10K runs, and I always came in close to last. I consoled myself with the race tee-shirt.


Then suddenly I began to win awards! I was still coming in at the rear of the pack, but I'd get third place or second place or even first in my age category because there'd only be a couple of people in my age category! But I have a great collection of medals!Beats the heck out of those silly tee-shirts that don't even fit anymore.


While we're on the subject of running, let's talk about pain meds. When you're under the age of 50 and you go into a doctor's office complaining that you're in pain, you were out for a run, tore a hamstring and fell off a cliff, broke your left arm in three places and cracked your skull, doctor tells you to ice it and take an aspirin. You protest: Doctor, I need something stronger than aspirin! Forget it. Doctor is totally paranoid you're going to become addicted to prescription pain meds and sue him for a bazillion dollars, so he says, fine, take two aspirin!


Over 50, especially over 60, you go into a doctor's office complaining that you stubbed the little toe on your right foot. Even if you present the big toe on your left foot for examination…it doesn't matter. Old people aren't expected to get things straight. That doctor assumes every muscle in your body probably hurts.


Give that woman some vicodin. Maybe a little oxycontin. What the heck, she's not going to live long enough to get addicted!


Old people get good drugs.


We also get away with things we never could when we were young.


One day I was driving along, doing 72 in a 55. The older we get, the faster we have to go because we have less time to get there. Right?


Next thing you know, I hear a siren and see flashing lights in the rear view mirror. So I pull over and here comes gorilla cop wearing a pair of mirrored sunglasses. "Going a little fast there, weren't you, ma'am?"


"A little," I admitted. "Not enough to matter."


"Oh? And just how fast do you think you were going?"


I may be old, but I'm not stupid! No way was I going to admit I was doing 72, and if I'd said 55, he'd have known I was lying. "Well, I had my cruise control set for 65."


He glared at me over the tops of those stupid sunglasses. "Ma'am, this is a 55 mile an hour zone."


I glared right back at him. "Sir, this is a 7 year old car, so deducting one mile an hour for every year, that means I was only going 58 miles an hour. Are you seriously going to give me a ticket for 3 miles over the speed limit?"


He blinked a couple of times, shoved those sunglasses back up on his nose and stepped away from my car. "What? No! You were doing 72!"


"Oh, man! You mean I got it backward? I'm supposed to add the years instead of subtracting them?"


He moved a little further away from me as if insanity might be contagious. "Yeah, yeah, backward. Slow it down, okay?"


No ticket!


And last, but not least, the greatest advantage to getting old is…..


Uh…What were we just talking about?


I know! The Age of Aquarius!


Is that the right answer?


What was the question?

Copyright © 2012 - All rights reserved.