Don’t Call Me Middle-Aged, Buster

Scan the internet and you can find out everything.

Last week, in an article in the Telegraph, I learned that I am still middle-aged and will be until I turn 74. Old age should only include the last 15 years of life, scientists reason, and people today are living longer. Why not wait and call them “elderly” till they start circling the drain?

Huh. Well, this scientific re-classification has to work well for all my Baby Boomer cohorts who are going kicking and screaming into that good night. And I have to say, I marvel at their manicky energy and sheer stubbornness about age being a state of mind and 60 being the new 15 or 30 or something, blah, blah, blah.

But at some point, all this freneticism about aging gets a little exhausting. Don’t we all have better things to do than go around insisting we’re not old, that middle-age is as elastic as Spandex, that 60 (old or new) isn’t a perfectly interesting age on its own? Shouldn’t we be trying to do something a little more helpful to the world — like maybe ending poverty or going to Mars?

“I won’t accept aging,” some model used to announce on TV commercials. “I’m going to fight it every step of the way.” Oh, brother. This always reduced me to screaming at the TV in the same lather Cialis commercials reliably brought out in me. This woman was acting like fighting wrinkles was as noble as finding a cure for cancer.

(Neither commercial, however, produced nearly as much racket from me as my all-time most-loathed TV commercial with the model staring straight into the camera and saying, “Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful.” I could always be found screeching back at the screen: “I don’t hate you because you’re beautiful! I hate you because you’re a superficial moron!”

(I should add that I’m not particularly proud of my habit of banshee-screaming at inanimate objects but machines often bring out the worst in me. Also, I am a big fan of the First Amendment.)

Now, where was I? Oh, yes — the Spandex elasticity of middle age.

Well! Now that 74 is middle-aged, people are going to spend more than three decades of their lives as middle-aged, which strikes me as being in a rut. If we’re adding a new age group, we might as well call it something different — otherwise, we’ll be as pitiable as tofu billing itself as fake top sirloin.

Maybe merge young-old into  — something? What? How about y’old?

Practice saying it: I’m y’old, y’all. Doesn’t it have a certain je ne sais quoi?

After all, the middle-age years were fine — but haven’t we done them already? Aren’t we finished? Even Spandex, like dreams, can burst if you put too much pressure on them.

If you’re y’old, you should already know that.

(Copyright 2015 by Ruth Pennebaker)

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6 comments… add one
  • Funny you should mention being middle-aged. I joined an online writing class this week and everyone was introducing themselves. I kept seeing mention of “middle-aged” at forty. Hmm. I agree that we need a new name. And, I really hate those Cialis commercials, too.

  • So, what happens when 74 is the new 50? Then, are we middle-aged still/once again?

  • suburbohemian Link

    I don’t have to say I’m old. My young co-workers know it already. At 63 I’m old enough to be their mother or grandmother. My tendency was to mock myself regarding my age, but I’ve brought that to a screeching halt. Corporate America does not need to be reminded. I have to prove I’m still capable and relevant every day, that I can keep up physically and trend-wise. My co-workers are delightful and accepting, and philosophically, I’m inclined to favor this approach anyway. However, its the fact that I HAVE to do it to stay employed that is worrisome. I think I’ll start referring to myself as well seasoned.

  • You speak my mind, sister. I’ve always wondered what’s wrong with the word “old” that we have to come up with so many euphemisms like “senior citizen” (yuck!).

    And I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who screams at the TV!

  • Cindy A Link

    I have always wondered why our society treats aging people as irrelevant instead of experienced. I guess people feel like if they can youthen up their exterior, they will be treated with more respect. It is a sad reflection on our superficial world.

  • I like y’old. And my 90-yo mom is southern, so she’s probably been saying that her whole life.

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