Rites of passage – the older version

Remember when we were teenagers and we looked forward to turning 18 or 21? 

We looked forward to being able to drive a car and legally drink. We might have even had a big bash 21st birthday party with a symbolic cardboard key to the door handed to us. Oh, so long ago.

It made me think about what are the rites of passage for getting old. After all, I don’t want to feel neglected and forgotten. I’d like to feel that I have hit some important social or physical markers and that I am punching above my weight in the ageing stakes.

Forgetfulness. I am allowed a degree of forgetfulness now that I qualify for a seniors’ card. This can be both mortifying and useful. Forgetfulness allows us to pike out of social engagements we didn’t want to go to, forget the assorted birthdays that come around too quickly and sometimes elicit a bit of sympathy. It is useful at government agencies and the like to play the doddering old fool with a memory problem and cognitive decline. It plays into the stereotype of old folk quite well. I am achieving a modicum of success in this realm. Heaven help me, when I actually do forget things. 

Low tolerance. I find that I have poor ability to stay in crowded restaurants and noisy venues when I can’t hold a conversation without shouting my head off and looking asinine nodding my head up and down because I have no idea what is being said. Being old at least gives me an excuse to leave early. It also gives me an excuse for occasional bad behaviour – rolling my eyes and getting tetchy with the young waiter about the choice of loud and awful music. Don’t get me started on hard concrete floors and lack of soft furnishings. And bench seats with no back! How is an old person meant to be comfortable on a plank of wood designed by a sadist?

Medical replacements dialogue. I can now wax lyrical about various joint replacements, even citing and rating a few medical doctors who are well known within my circle of friends. We all have endless discussions about who to go to and how long to wait before the discomfort of joint pain leads us to the knife. Riveting stuff really. Also, which painkillers are worthwhile, is high on the list of conversation starters. Mind you, nothing illegal just, noteworthy for future reference. 

Selective hearing. All the vagueness and rudeness of my behaviour can now be blamed on my poor hearing. The reality is that I am selective in my hearing and, even if I had hearing aids, I might turn them off at opportune times, sensing the peace and quiet that comes from a general indistinct hum. Again, no-one would blame me and I might even elicit a level of sympathy. 

Farting and belching. I hate to be so indelicate but some realities of life hit hard as you age. I am sometimes scared to laugh or cough, unsure if I will make a spectacle of myself. Then again, my fellow friends may not even hear my old person behaviour. Laughing seems to lead inevitably to snorting loudly and guffaws that might to be seen as unseemly. But who cares?

Repetitive stories. I know this is happening as my children cut sharply into any of my reminiscences and, loudly and with vehemence, exclaim, “Yes, we know that mum!” (They are seriously risking their inheritances each time they utter this disparaging comment. I haven’t told them yet but I am keeping score.)

So, all in all, I think I am keeping pace with this ageing caper. 

What have been your rights of passage? Why not share your thoughts in the comments section below?

Also read: Why I’m grateful to be a baby boomer

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