Is Age Just A Number?

Recently, I overheard a woman say she was too old to have long hair.

“At a certain age,” the woman declared, “ponytails and braids just start to look foolish.”

As I pondered her statement, I was reminded of the time my grandmother said that old women shouldn’t wear sleeveless tops. (Conversely, my other grandmother wore pink baseball caps with matching pink shoelaces well into her 60s.)

This brought a question to mind: when is someone officially old? Is a 76 year old woman who bicycles 3 miles a day, every day, old? Or is it the woman who is also 76 but uses a walker and reeks of White Diamonds perfume?

I lost sleep. I paced the floors. I forgot several items on my shopping list because I kept repeating the thought, “When is old, old?” I studied everyone. I took notes. I visited random nursing homes and stuck my head into the rooms before visiting a local American Legion to watch a Bingo game in progress. I then sat and worked late into the night –  by candlelight. I compared my findings. I chewed through three pencils and drank two cups of coffee until, at last, I had answered the question to my satisfaction.

“I have done it,” I whispered to a silent house, “I now know when someone is truly old.”

Actually, I didn’t do any of the above. I simply thought about the question as I washed breakfast dishes one morning. But I was – among the suds and aroma of lemon scented dish soap – able to devise a “You Know You’re Old” list.

The Underground Writer’s “You Know You’re Old When …” Checklist*

If you do five or more of the following, you are officially old.

  • There is a tissue box in the rear window of your car.
  • A flower is taped to your car’s antenna. 
  • You use the term “slacks” for pants, and wear said slacks when you exercise.
  • Everything costs too much, and you have difficulty making a purchase without comparing the cost of the item to what it used to cost “back in the day.”
  • You’re astonished that an adult could be born as recently as the 1980s.
  • Even if your financial situation does not require you to use the Early Bird Specials at restaurants, you always do so out of principle.
  • You are simply appalled by the younger generation: their clothes, music, behavior, and/or electronics. You also take issue with what people are naming their children nowadays. Names such as Kaden, Brooklyn, and Jayden are not real names in your mind.
  • If you are female, you wear nylons all of the time – even with “slacks.” 
  • You find electronics mind boggling. Just as you finally figured out how to set the time on your DVD player, your younger friend questions why you even have a DVD player since they will soon be obsolete.
  • Your car is either large (such as a Lincoln Town car) or small (such as a Toyota Corolla). Mid-size cars, such as Honda Accords, are never considered.
  • Your reason for visiting the mall is to walk for exercise, and not to shop.
  • While sleeping at night is nearly impossible, you find yourself randomly falling asleep throughout the day. 

*This checklist has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration, or any other professional organization for that matter. This list it not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent aging*


32 thoughts on “Is Age Just A Number?

  1. Well, thank God I’m officially not old! Though I do occasionally forget the name of everyday items, like the refrigerator, for example. That doesn’t count, right?

  2. You also know you’re old when you refuse to buy a Toyota Corolla (or any Toyota, Nissan, Honda or Mitsubishi) because of what happened in the early 1940s; you’ve ever referred to someone as a butter bean; you still own (and wear) a white-colored belt with your plaid trousers; your dungarees and jumpsuits are pressed and starched; you miss the automat or cafeteria-style dining options; or you still think it’s your right to smoke at the hospital.

    Good stuff, Megan! (As usual!)

  3. Well….I’m a 62 yr. old “spring chicken”. I do fall asleep in my chair in the middle of the day (if I get a chance to get in it) and I do still wear nylons, mainly because I don’t like the bare legged look except in the summer when I am nice and tan. (Picked too many scabs when I was younger…I know TMI)…

    I feel every bit of my 62 years when I become sedentary – but as long as I stay active I feel 42. Your questions are very thought provoking. A few years ago when I was going thru an unusually morbid phase of my life and wondering about my mortality, I realized that if I have my mother’s health history I still have 30 years of living to do! With that realization came a change in mindset and perspective.

    • Absolutely. Age is a combination of (mainly) genetics and healthy living. My grandmother lived to be 95 and I am certain alcohol preserved her (she certainly drank enough of it). She ate whatever she wanted and never exercised. Go figure.

      I actually qualify for two out of the 12 qualifiers I listed above … and I’m still in my 30s. Not looking very promising. I might as well tape that flower to my car’s antenna and get it over with.

  4. I guess I am officially old then! I heard a great term yesterday (given it is after 3am now) for the 76 yr old who cycles 3km every day – they are a member of the ‘wellderly’. Cheers Pip

  5. I am hitting myself on the noggin for missing this Oldie but Greatie! I am also wondering if it means you are currently working on Shakespeare’s quadruple great grandson updating his portfolio? I have a vague recollection some old codgerette requested that of you. 😉

    Loved this post and it had the perfect cane tapping rhythm to rock to. In my rocking-chair.

      • No, no pressure – – but aren’t endings the worse? You always feel like you gotta a) wrap it up perfectly AND b) leave ’em wanting more. Let’s look at it this way – – you already always have me wanting more, so cross that worry off. And as far as a wrap-up is concerned, this is part two (correct?) so I’m open to an ambiguous ending that gives me hope for the a) “more that I am always left wanting.” Tada – – no more pressure!!

  6. um I got only 1 point here. mind boggling electronics. It is strange, but I agree that age is just a number. My mom died when she was only 63. She was more lively than me. I am less than half of her age.

    • I am so sorry your mom died so young (and 63 IS young). As for the Are You Old test, I actually tallied up more points than I care to admit. If that test is true – my teeth should be in a glass on the counter and I should be dozing off in my Lay Z Boy…

  7. My father is 80 and still comes to the office. I laughed the other day when I heard his conversation with a sales guy wanting to sell us a new automation system. He was asking my father questions and he was providing answers and the guy asked do you have a mobile website. My father replied yes and we are way up in the clouds! Technology is not getting the best of him! I tell him all the time that he is setting the bar high. If I have to stay as long as him…that means of have 30 more years to go. As for the list and the test, I am 50 and the only one that I have problems with is the sleeping issue. Happy to report I have not bought nylons in at least 3 years. There have been days that I have been chilly…but never dated by wearing nylons. Thanks for this delightful post.

  8. What a GREAT list. It makes me look like a spring chicken! 3 out of 5 ain’t bad.

    I love Adam’s additions. It reminds me of thin black crew socks pulled up straight, with a bathing suit. I do miss automats, though. I hope that doesn’t bump my score up to 4. I don’t miss them that badly.

    If it’s true that genetics plays a large part in aging, then I must have my father’s genes. My mother died before she got to my age, after being sick for a while, and he lived 30+ years past my age after a strong, healthy life.

    I disagree about your list being unable to prevent aging. Laughter is the best medicine.

    • Thank you! And I am sorry to say – you are bumped up to a 4. I have no idea what an automat is! 😉

      I am so sorry your mother passed away so young – and after being sick. It is hard to say goodbye to those we love!

      I am glad this post made you laugh! 🙂

      • Each time my father took me to an automat, I liked the walls of chrome-framed windows. I peered into the compartments to choose my perfect bowl of macaroni and cheese, and slice of custard pie. I liked putting my coin in the slot, and opening the door to take out my dish.

        Today, I’m appalled by tall racks of prepared food like the ones that I saw behind the showcases.

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