My mom has started fumbling with her wallet at the register, counting out exact change and trying to unload half a dollar's worth of pennies and so forth. We both joke that this is such an "old lady" thing to do. (I laugh more.) It's not so much the USING of the coins as the FUMBLING with them: "Oh, wait, I think I have another penny somewhere in here...*rummage rummage rummage drop other coins*...Oh dear!...Now how much did you say that was, young man?"
Considering how smoothly and effortlessly I find myself
saying and doing "mom things" (those things seem so sensible now, why would I
WANT to avoid them?), I don't see much hope for avoiding an equally smooth and
effortless adoption of "old lady things" next. Surely generation after
generation has rolled their eyes at "mommish" and "old ladyish" things
to say/do, and yet each generation in turn has gone on to do those
things. (I'm using the feminine to represent both the female and the male,
but of course I mean men JUST AS MUCH. No one will mind that, I hope! Why, when I was a child, we all learned that one gender-specific pronoun can easily be used to clearly represent both sexes, and WE turned out okay!)
At this point, I think most of the people my age are still firmly "mommish" types, but the first signs of the next stage are already appearing: little things that still belong to the mom zone, but that are also the first sprouts of the grandma stage to come. (The other day, I referred to a group of people as "young people." It begins.) (Next up, I believe, is "young people today.")
Protocol requires us to joke "And get off my lawn!" after each pre-old-ladyish thing we catch ourselves saying or doing---which doesn't help, since it only causes the generations below us to roll their eyes and file that expression under "old lady jokes." And the important thing here is that we may be following each old-ladyish behavior with a self-mocking that shows we know we're doing it---but we're also CONTINUING TO DO IT ANYWAY. I say to the kids: "I remember when a candy bar was a QUARTER! Now they're 79 cents!" and Paul adds "And also, get off my lawn!" And then later he says, "We didn't even HAVE air-conditioning when I was a child!" and I say "You didn't need it, since you were still chilled to the bone from having to trudge miles through snowdrifts to get to school!" And then we both tell the children how we didn't have email until we were in college, and didn't have color television until late elementary school, and how car phones were a thing, and how computer games were text-only---and the children fail to fully appreciate how comparatively fortunate they are.
Have you noticed that each generation thinks they'll manage to avoid seeming "old," as long as they avoid the exact thing their own parents/grandparents did? A woman my age will say she doesn't want Mom Hair or Mom Jeans---but what she's thinking of are the current GRANDMOTHER hair/jeans: she's filed her OWN mom's style under "mom," but a generational shift has occurred since then. Angled stacked bobs and cute-messy twisted-up hair with side-swept bangs ARE the Mom Hair! Cute dark-wash boot-cut jeans ARE the Mom Jeans! BECAUSE THAT IS WHAT THE CURRENT MOMS ARE DOING. Our daughters will speak of such styles with distaste, and will specifically avoid them. "Don't give me Mom Hair," they'll tell the stylist, meaning OUR CUTE HAIR.
I wanted to make a list of the things that right NOW seem "old ladyish" to me, but which may soon seem like a baffling list of perfectly sensible things no one would want to try to avoid. But the trouble is, NOTHING correlates perfectly with age. Many a 30-year-old is passionate about getting the lawn perfect, and many a 25-year-old is exasperated about portion sizes, and many a 40-year-old catches herself trying to get rid of some of these COINS *fumble fumble in huge purse*. And of course many a 70-year-old is in favor of funding education, and many a 60-year-old thinks the way teenagers dress is no sillier than the way teenagers have always dressed, and many an 80-year-old is fully aware of how inflation works. And many things DO change with each generation, as issues shift and as each generation tries to avoid seeming like their own parents/grandparents.
But there are a few things that symbolize Being Elderly to me, and I would like to at least try to avoid (or downplay, or maybe HIDE) these things myself:
1. Fumbling with payment at the register, especially counting out coins. Coins go into an overflowing jar on the bureau, and I don't want to hear any more about it.
2. Complaining about portion sizes.
3. Complaining about how prices have gone up, in a manner that implies I don't understand how inflation/money works. (Aware-of-it comparison stories are still fine: I liked hearing my dad talk about 15-cent ice cream cones and my grandpa tell about buying a house for $7,000.)
4. Voting against school/education taxes. (It's not like I have to vote yes on all of them, but I want to avoid the "_I_ don't have kids in school, why should _I_ pay school taxes??" attitude I have learned to associate with the elderly in my particular district.)
5. Asking people to guess my age, and then gloating when the guesser tactfully subtracts ten years.
6. Complaining that current popular music isn't even music, or that songs/books/movies USED to be good/quality/art, but NOW are NOT. (This area may require vigilance. I have already caught myself claiming that all the current songs are about nothing but SEX and CLUBBING.) (Well!?! Have you LISTENED to the radio recently??) (Now, now, Swistle, settle back into that rocking chair. Shall I hum you a few bars of the simpler/better songs from your own youth? Perhaps "Pour Some Sugar on Me"? How about "I Love Rock and Roll"? Or "Push It" or "I Want Your Sex"? Or I could go on: remember Samantha Fox? 2 Live Crew? Prince? Madonna? Yes. That's what I thought. Simmer down there, grandma.)
7. Explaining to frazzled, exhausted, verge-of-emotional-breakdown women with small children that this is the best time of their lives. (I will find another way to more accurately convey what I mean. Maybe something like, "Oh, what adorable children!," combined with a general policy of not making things harder for the mothers by acting affronted when children exist in public.)
8. Suggesting that things are getting worse and worse with every generation---starting with the one immediately following mine.
9. Complaining about how "weird" baby names are now; why don't people use NORMAL names like the names WE used for OUR babies?
Do you have things you're avoiding, either for the mom stage or for the grandma stage? Have you already found any of those ideas....slipping here and there? (Hey! Sometimes "Because I said so" IS a good reason.)
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