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Putting Life On Pause


This is official notice that friends will no longer be receiving any birthday wishes from me. I still do hope people have happy birthdays, but I refuse to say anything; what I could get back has become too risky. Like the latest example: I recently popped off an email to wish an old friend happy birthday, and she wrote back to thank me, sighing that she’s really not paying attention now because we’re getting so close to 50. 50? 50? Hardly, although she certainly does seem to have catapulted into a touch of senility.
Let me explain. Technically, my friend and I are in the decade that leads up to 50, but way way way on the young end of it. Barely there at all in fact. And, as my friends should be aware, and will be reminded if they ask, I’m younger than everyone I know. And staying that way.
Not that there’s anything wrong with 50. But there’s no need to get ahead of yourself. Not that you have any choice in how fast you age, but once that desperate looking-ahead to driving age and legal drinking status has passed, it’s time to relax and enjoy the ride.
There’s more to this than my personal refusal to accept that I’m getting older. I’m part of the baby bust, generation X if you remember back to that once-popular marketing term that took off after Douglas Coupland’s novel. All our lives we busters have trailed the baby boomers, that post-World War II span of high birthrates; that’s like growing up with a motormouthed, self-involved older sibling monopolizing mom and dad’s attention. (After all, when was the last time you heard the term “Gen X” used? We’re not the mass of boomers and we’re not so young, so who cares about selling to us anymore?)
Because they’re such a bunch of blabbermouths, I mean, because they have been breaking ground over the years in their openness to discuss personal issues, we’ve been hearing about what the boomers are doing and what they’re concerned about at every age – so that sometimes their concerns overshadowed our own. We couldn’t even spell sexuality, they were already having their ´60s hippies explorations and then 70´s disco decadence; so we ended up with Laugh-In go-go dancers, and gym class hustle lessons. Then, we were moving into the prime years to be concerned about contraception, just as some boomers started to worry about infertility; so news on IVF techniques filled health stories.
Now, with the oldest boomers into their 60s, we’re all being swept along as The Vagina Monologues crowds move on to Menopause: The Musical (well, perhaps not quite the same crowds). To go by the amount of chatter, we’re either all there already or are simply pre-menopausal, which is technically true (for women at least; men miss out on these clear hormonal cycle markers).
Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that previously taboo topics of life’s stages (I’m thinking more about women here, although who’s not comfy chatting about erectile disfunction these days?) are discussed more openly. Sharing information about what childbirth’s like, and illnesses, and what aging means, is a great help for people following behind and going through the same thing, and we could go further with openness. The bulbous generation will forge ahead on how to treat hot flashes, and what an aging neck really looks like. And I really hope boomers will sort out Medicare problems and the healthcare mess, and agitate for some gentle, respectful way to care for the elderly as their parents and they themselves face old age.
Heck, now, thanks to boomers sharing, I know all about breasts shrinking with age. And so I know what to watch develop (undevelop?). But…do I really want to have another detail of aging to focus on? Especially if there’s nothing (non-surgical) I can do about it?
And, yes, Nora (and you’re technically a pre-boomer, I see), my neck’s starting to bother me too – particularly after having seen an especially unflattering picture taken from a kid angle (pictures aimed up do no one any favors; my advice: don’t let your kids near a camera until they’re as tall as you are). But if it weren’t for having the title of your book stuck in my mind, maybe I wouldn’t have noticed it as much. I mean, don’t I have a few years before I need to buy a jaunty little scarf for my neck? In the meantime, I’d like to slap on some moisturizer and concentrate on other things than when my AARP subscription can start.
But the boomers’ concerns become everyone’s concerns. Or at least the concerns of anyone who chooses to pays attention to them. But at least if you pay attention there’s time to prepare for the next stage, which with my aging plan I figure won’t come for another 30, 40 years.

Share  Posted by Deborah Klosky at 11:38 AM | Permalink

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