Surprise! I Guess I Might Be Getting Old


What is the politically correct way to refer to old people? I want to know before I get there.

Or is one ever old? I read somewhere that people think of “old” as 12 years older than whatever age they currently are.

Or is “old” in the eyes of the beholder? When I first came to Florida at age 22, I tried to rent an apartment in a “senior community.” I knew I was a senior because I had just graduated college as one. The man on the phone laughed out loud.

“You wouldn’t be happy here,” he said. “It’s quiet.”

It was my first case of being discriminated against. I love quiet. I would have been a great tenant. And I have been trying to get into a senior community ever since.

My day may be approaching.

There are signs.

In the first place, I’ve noticed that I have to take it easier on the ol’ body. No more jumping out of bed and hurling myself into the day. Now I take a moment to sit on the edge and notice my surroundings. Am I at home? That’s good.

Do I have comfortable clothing? Also good. Gone are the days when I would put up with skirts that pinched at the waist, shoes that pinched at the toes and underwear designed to mash me into a more pleasing shape. These days my shape is pleased if it is not pinched.

I also feel lost without my glasses. I’ve needed them since I was 11, but I never took them that seriously. Now going forward without them is like leaving my eyeballs on the night stand. I can’t read a single warning label without them.

I feel jealous of people who have Medicare. Previously, I wondered why old people were going to the doctor all the time. Now I know. They have the time and they have the means — Medicare.

Another sign that I might be admitted to a senior community sometime soon is that the people on their billboards look a lot younger than they did when I first got here. Conversely, there are drivers on the road who must be in grade school. Since when did they lower the driving age to 10? I don’t remember voting for that.

Speaking of voting, I used to view it as a privilege. Now I realize that my puny little vote is the last desperate chance I have to get things right. When I first set out on my own, I was shocked by some of the rules and regulations out in the world — so skewed from those of the Utopia in which I planned to live after I left my parents’ home. Following years of disappointment, I finally called my mother and said, “I’m 30 now. Where are the adults?”

She laughed and told me, “Idiots are idiots all their lives.”

I had assumed it was something they grew out of!

No. You have to vote them out. Yet this is a positive sign. Railing against laws and those who make them is a definite sign of old age.

So I’m going to call that manager of the senior community back. I can’t jump out of bed or see where I’m going. I dress like a ragamuffin to sit around in doctors’ offices all day. I mumble and grumble about everything.

I certainly must be old — and acceptable — by now.