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April 15, 2024

The Privileges of Age

By Tedi Trindle

When most folks think about growing older, they tend to look upon such a prospect with disfavor. However, when one considers the alternative, suddenly growing older really doesn't seem all that bad. I also think that most people are pessimists and tend to think that the glass as not only half empty, but the water is polluted.

While I have my pessimistic moments, I am mostly a cheerful, one might even say hopeless, optimist. For me, the glass is not only half full, it's half full of good imported ale. I particularly like to remain cheerful about the process of aging. I am not in the slightest bit of a hurry to explore the alternative, so I think it's best to look on the bright side.

You might wonder what possible bright side there could be to that which signifies the gradual loss of one's faculties. I admit, that's a tough one, but I think I've managed to figure out an advantage or two to share with you.

For instance, now that I'm past a certain age, some of my less endearing traits, ones I have always possessed, can now be attributed to the aging process. Now when I tell the same story to the same person for the third time in two days and they cut me off in annoyance, I can simply shrug and say, "I'm old. I forget." They sigh and nod and let me get away with it. Before they would have regarded me as stupid. Much as I'm not wild about getting old, I'm much less wild about being stupid.

I also find that, even though I'm still pretty strong, I can weasel out of hard physical labor by virtue of my advanced age. People rarely expect me to carry the heavy end of large pieces of furniture anymore. Sometimes I can even get them to wait on me if there are stairs involved.

If I lose my keys, sit on the dog, screw up a recipe, run into a wall or call someone a fat cow to their face, I can always claim that my eyesight is failing and I really should go to an eyedoctor. While I am slightly deaf in one ear, I had unusually keen hearing prior to that hearing loss. But since very few people know this, my hearing has become more and more selective over the passing years. If someone criticizes me, asks me to do something I don't want to do, or the caller I.D turns up a name I'd like to avoid, I am suddenly stone deaf. I'm old, I tell you.

Another advantage to getting older is that you get to claim that your nerves are shot. This exempts one from all sorts of unpleasant experiences. You no longer have to put up with screaming children, irate spouses, barking dogs or barfing friends. You just say, "I'm old and my nerves are shot. I can't handle this." And walk away.

When you're getting older, you can also stop being quite so polite. While you may not wish to out-and-out offend people (although you may) you can get away with being outrageously blunt. If someone you never particularly liked in the first place asks you if they're getting fat, you merely screw up your face so the wrinkles show, narrow your eyes to look wise, and say, "Why, yes, yes you are."

You can also stop wasting time on many of the pointless tasks one was expected to perform when one was younger, such as making the bed or talking to door-to-door salespeople. This is largely because when you get older, you stop caring so much what other people think of you and spend more time thinking about what you think of other people. You value your own opinion more, because it's yours, and you can. You're old. Old people don't like to waste time because they don't know how much of it they have left.

This does not, of course, translate into being in a hurry. What is, after all, the rush? The place you are going to will still be there ten minutes later than if you hurried. You might miss a flight or two, but another plane will come along. And drivers almost never deliberately run over an aging person taking their time getting across the street, much as they might wish to.

When you're old, you can leave your left turn signal on for twenty miles at a stretch. You can sit on the porch and stare off into space for hours at a time. You can forget the existence of annoying relatives. You can even wet your pants if you don't feel like getting up to go to the bathroom. Someone else will have to clean it up, after all. You're old.

When you get really, really old, you can pinch the behinds of attractive young people. You can make people spoon feed you, and you don't even have to chew, because they'll grind your food up for you. You can pretend to nod off if someone is boring you to death. If the conversation is taking a turn you don't care for you can gaze at your companion confusedly and say, "Uncle Gifford? I thought you were dead. What are you doing here?"

When all is said and done, aging doesn't have to be bad at all. It can even afford endless opportunities for self-amusement. Consider the alternative.
Article © Tedi Trindle. All rights reserved.
Published on 2003-05-26
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