I never thought I’d mind being old. In my warped mind I had a vision of myself young and then in the next frame I’d just be old and wrinkled, but cute. Sort of like the bathrobe we’ve all had for twenty years.

My grandma was a great role model for being an old person. She’d forget things, even though she was perfectly lucid until the very end. One time, she got lost walking back to my house from the grocery. When she knocked on a stranger’s door and asked them to call me to come get her, they thought it was cute. So did I. She started cussing like a sailor, telling off-color stories and she’d get a lot of laughs. And believe me, she had her share of cocktails every evening.

I adored grandma and the idea of becoming more like her wasn’t the least bit frightening. Did I mention that she was sixty years old at that time?

where's the justice, jacquelinegumThen some genius moved the finish line. Fifty is the new thirty! Sixty is the new forty! All of a sudden, getting to old is the slowest foot race on the planet. The process is gradual. V-necks give way to turtlenecks; sleeveless becomes three-quarter sleeves then fully sleeved and everybody over the age of fifty has bangs… have you noticed that?

But I’m spending double-time in the gym to keep my arms firm as I cling to my sleeveless dresses and I’ll admit to scrimping on groceries so I can afford a little Botox here and there. All because some “expert” set the bar higher.

What with my knee wrinkles, spotted legs, and laugh lines that don’t look so damn funny to me, I’ve started raging against aging. Yet my rants seem to elicit sympathetic nods, sideways glances, and even a scribbled note slipped inside my purse with the telephone number for a psychologist. I’m being told to “stop fighting,” but that’s counter-intuitive for a fighter like me. “It’s inevitable…look at the alternative.” Wait a minute… what about fifty being the new thirty?

If I mumble that I used to be able to manage more things simultaneously, while nibbling a blue cheese olive from my martini, I inevitably hear… “Well, at our age…” Funny, there never seems to be an end to that sentence. I slug back my vodka and stare, so I can stop myself from shouting “And?? At our age… WHAT?” Because I don’t know what “age” I am supposed to be at this point.

Bottom line: I don’t think that I’ll mind being old. But I’m confused. When will I be blessed with those special permissions granted to old people? To forget without being subjected to testing for dementia; to develop Tourette’s and drink martinis at noon without being criticized?

humor, aging, where's the justice

Seems to me that the bothersome thing about aging is that there’s no damn dignity in it… it’s like a slow moving cloud of ignominy. You can’t just BE old, you have to get there. And right now that feels like a walk around the globe…twice!

So make up your mind, expert geniuses of the world. What’s the new age for “OLD”?

I’d appreciate if you’d share this with some friends… old or not 🙂



  1. I decided a long time ago that “old” is my parents’ age. That used to be a continually moving target but now old is either 86 or 94.

  2. Funny, as usual, Jacquie. I think that aging gracefully just means spending thousands on everything you can do in your power to look good. That could include extensive surgeries…in NYC. In a small town in Iowa, that wouldn’t apply. I have also learned as a city dweller, above all, DO NOT LOOK FAT. “Fatness” is worse than a few laugh lines and wrinkle lines. So for me, having gotten rid of fatness, I look and feel younger than I did in my 30s and 40s when I was obese and looked ancient. Go figure.

  3. I’ve always thought the wrinkles on your face were signs of character and aging. They are so much better than wrinkles on your brain…

  4. All I can say is it’s an interesting phenomenon that 60 is the new 40. Some days this Thelma wants to find herself a Louise to drive the car over the edge. I need all the energy boosters I can muster to compete in the work world because retirement is an unfulfilled dream. That means daily trips to the gym, acid peels, blonde highlights, and spanx. I often wish for the simplicity of the 1950s, including the black and white medium that portrayed Ed Sullivan as ageless. Then I slap myself and say, “Wake up!” I’m actually healthier now than when I was 40 thanks to modern technology and medical knowledge. I too will get to rock my grandchildren and hopefully see them get married. Is it fair many of us feel compelled to be 40 again to keep up with society’s expectation? H— no. However, feeling better and younger gives me a few more years to work toward that perfect golf game! Thanks, Jacquie.

  5. I’d say if any of y’all are still letting others define your age, then you’re pretty young – cuz at “your age” you ought to know better than to let anyone else define you, except you!

    I love Mike’s assessment of the trade off – can’t wait for them grandbabies myself.

    But for us women, I embrace the maiden-mother-crone model – even if you’re deep in crone, that’s where the wisdom is baby, and the “rebirth” – Which is essentially getting past all the doing for others/obligations of the mother years phase and diving headlong into “What do I want to do for me?” BUT… let me stress that that can STILL be about doing for others… and usually is… if that’s what swells your heart 🙂

    Once you start making the rules vs. trying to learn which to play by, then you’re old – but in a GREAT way. THAT’s what we loved about our grandmas – wrinkles be damned.

    • Easy to say when you’re wrinkle free and you haven’t experienced the twinge of an aching joint:) The BE old, to me, is the wisdom…all the battle scars, for better or worse. But to actually have moments when you feel old? Well…that just sucks. Every life stage offers up trade-offs and this life stage is no different.

      • Aye, that IS the trade off… but it’s those wrinkles and aching joints that earn us the right to have our tourette’s and enjoy it, too 🙂

        • Hahahaha! Of course it is…that’s the paradox. Assuming, of course, that’s Tourette’s is gratifying for the afflicted 🙂

  6. Love your grandma! Hey, when I was a teenager, 30 was considered “old.” If 60 is the new 30, why can’t I do the same things I did at that age? Why does it take longer to go from point “A” to point “B?” All seriousness aside, I love my age. I’m retired, do what I want, don’t have to be tied down to a 9 to 5 schedule, and count my blessings. I do ressemble my dad, and for that, I’m greateful. I get to see him everyday! Blessings.

  7. Good one, Jacquie:

    It triggered — as your blogs always do — thoughts of my own, which as you well know, run parallel to yours. One of my favorite descriptions of aging was that uttered by Debbie Reynolds on the Jack Paar Show (a few years back
    🙂 ): “My 36B breasts are now 36 LONG.”

    And I love your sentence: “Slow moving cloud of ignominy…” Wish I’d said

  8. I turned into my father 15 years ago, at 55; he’d been dead a year, and up to that point I was 45. Still had hair, still sort of a hardassed little guy, and could still do 50 pushups at a drop and run three miles. Then one glorious Saturday morning I rolled out bed and strolled into the bathroom, looking straight out at the lake for that wave of serenity. That morning though, I glanced to the right into that damned mirror over the sink and yelled out,”Jesus, Dad- what are YOU doing here?” I think my wife wet the bed. That was 25 pounds and a whole lot of hairline ago. The upside is that last night I rocked my sleeping 5 month-old great grandson for an hour, and if we can make it another 20 years, we might get to see his child. That would be double great.

  9. LOOOOL I was giggling while reading your post Jacquie. Doesn’t it say: you’re as old as you feel? (which means to me I wouldn’t believe being one day older than 18)…
    But actually… I personally think it’s still the same as it used to be: hearing a kid saying: “oh… she’s old… about your age!” only means, that to a child of 8 a woman of 30 is “old”.
    To a 25 year old woman a 45 year old man who thinks she’s attractive, he’s an old guy.
    To me, being “a little bit over 30” (mildly expressed), a 75 year old man can be old… but not necessarily.
    My mom is over 70 and she doesn’t seem old to me.
    The older one gets, the more extended his/her impression of “old” gets.

    With keeping us in “good shape” we might not “age” the way it used to be 30 years ago… but let’s face it: our bones don’t know that.
    And 45 is still 45, period!
    Even though I have to say: a 44 year old partner to me is absolutely attractive – in particular when it’s MY partner. LOL

    Thanks for this great blog post!

  10. Jacquie, I wonder if by the time we get “there” (old), we will have forgotten what the point of it all was (the right to act without filters and to look “cute” with wrinkles). Even the “experts” are confused. They’re the ones asking “How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?” and claiming “age is just a number.”

    Great post–good segue to ours on Tuesday called “Grandma Show & Tell.” Love the grandma stories–back when grandmas were grandmotherly.:)

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