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MARTHA SEZ: Who is that old bird?

May 29, 2014
By MARTHA ALLEN , Lake Placid News

Will you still need me, will you still feed me ...

We thought it would never happen, didn't we? Not to us. When I'm 64 - ha ha! What a joke. We thought we would never be 64. I mean, look at us -we are the Baby Boom, the freaking Age of Aquarius!

Young people today, no doubt, think basically the same way, except they might say, "When I'm 64 LOL." And, of course, none of that Age of Aquarius stuff.

John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote the song "When I'm 64" tongue in cheek. I remember Lennon telling an interviewer that the Beatles would eventually disband, quit performing. To show why, he rasped "Yesterdaaay" in a geezer's croak. Old Beatles, he suggested, would be ridiculous. As everyone knows, John Lennon died young, felled by an assassin's bullet. Many of us thought we, too, might die young, somehow.

It has always been this way; young people don't believe that they will ever be middle-aged, much less old. Strong and pretty as they are, able to leap tall buildings at a single bound, or at least run up and down stairs and get up from a crouching position without holding onto the wall or a piece of furniture for support, or get out of a chair without going "Unh!" How could they bear to imagine themselves frail and crotchety? Not to mention, well, you know, how elderly people look. Just as nature erases the pain of childbirth from our memory, it shields us from the foreknowledge of growing old.

When I get older, losing my hair, many years from now ...

Intellectually, the young do know this much about the aging process - that if a person lives on from day to day, he or she accordingly ages from day to day -always provided that he or she does not die in the interim. They know it, but they do not believe it.

None of us believes it until we are faced with the inevitable fact that we have become an old coot, a crone, a codger, a senior citizen. The change will not be noticeable from one day to the next; it's cumulative.

Even when it finally does happen, and the transformation is complete, we still cannot embrace the concept in its entirety. In dreams we are ageless, or any age, although more likely than not we are young. We are surprised when confronted unexpectedly with our reflection - who is that old bird? Oh, it's me. Of course, the image is distorted. We think the mirror is out of whack. When we see photographs of ourselves, we wonder why we are not very photogenic.

I never used to understand why old people insisted on rattling on about their youthful escapades and endeavors. Oh, yes, I listened politely, if condescendingly, but in my heart I knew that they had never been young and alive like me. It was unimaginable.

Now I understand. Growing old is like being bewitched, a character in a fairy tale. You are Hans, the woodcutter's son, but someone has placed you under a magic spell and turned you into a wild swan. Yes, I appear to be an evil old hag of a stepmother, but I can change back into my true form, Rosalind the Golden-haired, at will. Voila!

Or not ...

Will you still be sending me a valentine, birthday greetings, bottle of wine?

Old people think it's funny that in every generation young people think they invented sex, that the ancient lady paying for Kleenex and cat food at the counter could not possibly know what they're talking about. OMG, what if she does? That would be disgusting! Actually, Ms. Beatrix Nelson, once Trixie LaBlanche, married her dance instructor and gave birth to seven children. Not one of those births was immaculate. Never mind, Trixie won't let on.

We shall scrimp and save.

I dread the television advertisements for financial counseling for AARPsters:

"Will you be able to maintain your current standard of living when you retire?"

I just mute the sound when those ads come on.

Digging the garden, pulling the weeds, who could ask for more?

There are retirees, I hear, who have escaped the humdrum grind of everyday life. Winters, they flock to warmer climes, enjoying fancy drinks and canapes in caravans, recreational vehicles and motor homes, playing cards, listening to golden oldy music and quite possibly dancing the fandango in far-flung trailer parks. Their hair is perfect.

Have a good week.



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