The second a stranger catches sight of you, the first thing he or she thinks is “Old person!” … The same goes for people you know. … You think: “I am so lucky. I never got crow’s feet!” Then you happen to glance in a mirror. You’ve got crow’s feet. … You never used to cry at anything, but now you even blubber through Adam Sandler flicks.
You go to see Broadway shows just so you’ll be the young one in the room. … Your references become a tiny bit out of sync with everyone else’s. You mention Norman Mailer to a 21-year-old, and they look like you’re speaking Esperanto. They’ve never heard of Esperanto, either. You even mention Britney, and they have no idea what you’re talking about! … But if you go out of your way to sound up to date and informed—”I like that new Carly Rae Jepsen song”—you come off as desperate and pathetic.
With every moment, you have more past and less future. … Any lump or bruise you find on your body could be terminal. Your lifelong hypochondria has actually become realistic. … It’s harder to make new friends, and what’s more, your old ones are disappearing. … You won’t take a chance on a restaurant anymore. To warrant your patronage, a place has to be quick, ambient, delicious, dirt cheap, and friendly yet unobtrusive. And on your block! … Everything seems really loud. A cat purring is suddenly deafening. … You’ve kept every clipping, book, and video with any mention of your name, from the time when they actually had clippings, books, and videos. Your apartment has become a glorified storage space for irrelevant research on yourself, and even you don’t care about it, but you still can’t manage to get yourself to throw the shit out.
You’re still wearing clothes from 20 years ago because, as all sense of time flies out the window, it seems like you only bought them two months ago. The fact that none of it fits anymore doesn’t stop you in the least. … You get lots of adulation for being a trouper and a survivor, which basically means you’re a quaint old thing who must have been very famous at one point. (You never burst their bubble by telling them you actually were never that famous to begin with.)
You find yourself robotically parroting things your father said, like: “Water’s good for you. You should drink lots of water.” … You are also strangely convinced that walking two or three blocks—to the drugstore to pick up a prescription refill—is great exercise. … You, in fact, have become your parents, even though you’re still working out issues derived from the horror of your upbringing. … Every time a camera’s in the room, you have to jut your head up and stick it out to minimize the extra folds and lines. You also can’t smile too hard because that creates jowls and you don’t want to look like an inflated accordion. So while getting photographed used to be your favorite activity on earth, it’s now your most challenging nightmare. … You’re always catching up with technology from five years ago. What’s an iPhone?
Even bifocals don’t work like they used to. To see anything, you have to clothespin your eyes open and place your eyeballs right on top of them (which can be a problem during sex). … That’s OK. No one wants to have sex with you anymore except drunk, depraved people or gerontophiles who can’t afford therapy. … Speaking of sex, prescribed drugs can give you a two-week erection, but it doesn’t feel quite the same as when it came naturally and only lasted two days.
You become increasingly invisible to the world at large because they’ve already seen what you can do and aren’t about to give you a chance to try something else. Besides, you remind them of their own mortality. … You remind yourself of your own mortality, too. You cut off your own opportunities because you rule out doing things that are potentially uncomfortable or unsafe, having been burned before, whereas you used to recklessly dive right into those kinds of things, anxious to live and learn.
Every day you have less hair on your head and more hair in other places where there shouldn’t be hair. … You catch a glimpse of a Lawrence Welk Show rerun and start thinking, “Hmm. This isn’t so bad.” … You start to care inordinately about the weather. Even a 30 percent chance of light precipitation can make you spiral with despair. And if it’s going to maybe be a little cold? Get out the electric blanket and prepare to die. … The second you finish a meal, you start thinking fondly about the next one. Mere sustenance becomes a landmark event in your day. … But though spicy food used to make you wriggle with delight, it now signifies cramps and bathroom visits. And it’s Pavlovian; a mere glance at a menu can make you crap your pants.
You can’t always remember who people are anymore. When someone |says “Hi,” you search their face for signs of identity while stammering evasive things like, “How goes it, fella?” (“Hey, lady” works for both women and gay men.) … You live in terror that the cashier at the cineplex is going to give you a senior discount even though you didn’t ask for it. … When a hot guy gives you his number, you assume he’s going to work his way into your will and then kill you, so you promptly delete it. But there’s a 10 percent chance he might not have done that, and the doubt can make you extra crazy. … Sorry, the column has to end now. I’m exhausted.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 3, 2012