Wednesday, June 10, 2015

When did we get to be old?

At what point do you become "old"? Is there some age when you go from being "young" to "old"? Is it 40? 50? 60? 70?

Are you "old" when the music you listened to growing up can now only be found on "oldies" or "classic" or  "eighties and nineties" stations?

Do you become "old" when you have kids, or when your kids graduate from high school, or college -- or have kids themselves?

Ask a teenager, and she will tell you 30 is old -- heck 25. (And yes, I feel really old right now typing that. But, as I recall, when I was 16, I thought 30 was old.)

Is "old" a matter of age, or perspective?

The other day, I was with a fifty-something girlfriend (who doesn't seem old to me, or to her), and she complained that "there were all these old people" at the dance performance she went to. I asked her, "what do you mean by old people? Were they in their sixties? Their seventies? Older?"

"Mostly in their seventies," she replied.

So, to people in their fifties (and, I'm guessing, pretty much everyone, except for people in their seventies or older), 70 and over is old.

But is it just age that makes us old -- or is "old" an attitude or the state of your body?

I have always been, or had, an old soul, or felt that in terms of my emotional maturity, and my understanding of the world, I was older than my years. But over the past 10 (okay, 15) years, I felt like my body was quickly catching up.

I can hardly go a day without taking an over-the-counter pain killer, or several (for my almost always aching neck, head, and upper back/shoulder blades). And my eye doctor informs me that it's just a matter of time until I need bifocals. And let us not discuss the number of gray hairs that started sprouting on top of my head shortly after I turned 40.

[I often joke with the spouse, who is partially deaf, wears trifocals, has bad knees, and was prematurely gray, that any day now we're going to wind up in Florida, playing pinochle or gin with a bunch of other altacockers, complaining about our aching backs and other ailments.]

But do I feel old? Yes and no. I still think of or see myself as the person I was in my thirties in many ways -- and I'm skinnier and in better shape than I was in my teens or twenties. But then I pop another ibuprofen, or look at my 17-year-old daughter, and I say to myself, man, I feel old.

So what do you all think? Is there a birthday on which you become "old" -- or is "old" just a state of mind (or body)? Do you feel old? Let me know via a Comment.


Anonymous said...


This post really struck a chord with me. As the father of three small children, I constantly find myself muttering "that's not the way it is when I was a kid."

Here's a few examples:

Everyone gets a trophy for showing up
No cupcakes allowed for birthdays - lest someone have a food allergy
Kids need "structure" and therefore, have schedules rivaling a CEO
And when did "Timeouts" become a thing?

Anonymous said...

Soo funny you posted this.

Looking at my FB feed this morning, I was struck with how many of my friends were celebrating their children graduations from HS and college, and asked myself-when did I get old.

J. said...

@Anonymous#1, I am constantly muttering stuff that makes me sound like a cranky old woman. And I wonder, does that make me a cranky old woman? (Probably. Also, you kids? Get the f*ck off my lawn.)

@Anonymous#2, Yeah, nothing like seeing your high school or college friends, whom you still think of as being the same as you all were in high school or college, celebrating their children's high school or college graduations to make you feel old!

John Barker said...

You got old rooting for The Mets;)

J. said...

I may have gotten a few gray hairs from watching the Mets, as well as a lot of agida, @JohhBarker. But the Mets don't make me feel old. Besides, the Cardinals are much older than the Mets. (And you're still older than I am. ;-P)

M said...

You are old when you see someone who you think is an old person, and then find out they are your age.