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Jewish World Review
January 30, 2009
/ 5 Shevat 5769
When you reach a milestone birthday you are supposed to feel different. I have just turned 60 and I don't feel a bit different than when I was 59. However, in general I can say that drifting into senior citizenship does make one more aware of certain things around you. For instance, the way of speaking has changed dramatically in our culture over the last few decades. Listen to the television news anchors describing a car chase. The car in question doesn't "run a red light" anymore - it "blows through the intersection." The perpetrator isn't being "pursued by the police," he is being "chased by the cops." As benign as these examples may be, they nevertheless demonstrate a coarsening of our language. You notice stuff like this as you get older.
Slang has eased out the real words for things. "Cop" is used much more commonly by everyone (broadcasters included) then is "police officer." "Guys" is the catchall term for everyone, men and women, young or old. I guess the term "gal" is thought to be insulting or something. If a well dressed 60's something husband and wife walk into a restaurant they are more often than not greeted with "Hi, guys!" by the host or hostess. (Yes, I still use the term "hostess." So sue me!) Sir and madam are not used anymore. You notice that there is a lack of respect for older people as you get older.
Political correctness baloney is at the core of many new phrases that are in use these days, but it is more than that. Have you seen what people look like who walk into restaurants today? Based on what they look like, is it more apropos to call them "guys" or to call them "sir" and madam?" Right. As you get older you start to notice how much differently people dress than you do.
Another little thing I've noticed about getting older is that things that you've always taken for granted that would always be there suddenly are not there anymore. Like for instance your favorite restaurants. Stores that you grew up with are no longer in business. People that you grew up with are no longer in business. And some people that you grew up with are no longer, period. Places that you used as landmarks all your life start to disappear. Remember that famous building at the corner of such and such? Gone.
And here's another little thing for all you youngsters to look forward to - you think you've stopped growing when you reach a certain age? Well, not entirely. You see, your feet keep growing in abnormal ways when you get old, just like your earlobes and your nose. That's right; those cute little feet of yours will suddenly grow lumps and bumps out of them in various odd directions just like some grotesque cactus. Now I know why some old people wear big ugly soft shoes - they're the only kind that fit them!
I have also been aware of a shift in my body weight. Even though I diet down to the weight I was when I was 25, my body doesn't look the same. Our weight shifts as we get older, I guess. Maybe it's the gravity that catches up with us, I don't know. Whatever it is, it ain't 25 anymore, I'll tell you that! So go ahead, lose 35 pounds, but you will never look like you did 35 years ago. You'll just look like a thinner 60 year-old guy.
Speaking of gravity, if you are unlucky enough to have been born with a skin type on the loose side, beware. You'll have the saggy baggy elephant syndrome in your future. Better start learning how to gobble, because as you "age gracefully" your neck will be flapping in the breeze. Those lobes of yours will be lying on your shoulders. That proud nose of yours will be dropping down somewhere near your chin. And there are other examples of gravity and old age that I will not explore in this space - but I bet you can guess what they are.
Oh and another thing - your teeth begin to yellow as you get older. Oh sure, you can go the whitening route, but it will cost a lot to get it done properly and you need to do it periodically or it will wear off. Besides that, bright, white teeth look like false teeth on an older person.
These are just a few minor disadvantages I've been aware of since I've begun my journey into geezerhood. There are advantages to getting old, too. I just can't seem to come up with any at the moment.
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JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. A freelance writer in Southern California, you may contact him by clicking here.
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