THE PITFALLS OF AGING
The fun and absurdity of it all.
When I was six years old, the aging process was a bone of contention with me. Back then, I had amusing concepts about growing old. My childhood naiveté led me to believe I would be a mature adult at age 16. I would be middle aged at 21. And at 33, I would qualify for Social Security and need someone to help me cross the street.
As I grew older, things changed. Now that I am on the north side of 39, I don’t really think I’m over the hill, at least not yet. I went through a phase of denial reminiscing about my amusing childhood misconceptions about aging. Reluctantly, I resigned myself to accept the graying hair sprouting like weeds on my head. I vowed to change my diet and make healthier choices. And these nasty wrinkles! I don’t know where the hell they came from. Truthfully, I didn’t want to age gracefully. Hell, I just didn’t want to age at all!
Like many others at this crossroad in life, I took drastic steps to block the ravages of the aging process. I tackled the first signs of aging, which usually materialize in the face. Overnight, seemingly millions of wrinkles took their toll, brazenly taking up residence in my face. It shocked me to see my once-supple skin begin to resemble the texture of a snakeskin purse. I craved a quick fix to help me recapture that “dewy, youthful appearance.”
Media hype touting guaranteed results from wrinkle-fighting wonder drugs sucked me in. Lotions loaded with Vitamin A, retinol, and other fancy ingredients became my best friends. I tried them all. After months of use and deep dents in my pocketbook, these wonder creams never led me to the fountain of youth. Instead, they left me and my wrinkles at an abandoned well. The only “wonder” I experienced was why I bought them in the first place. Although my facial skin got much smoother, the wrinkles got much smarter.
This “alien life form” created subdivisions in my neck. I resorted to camouflaging the unavoidable changes in my skin by wearing large fashionable scarves, sun glasses, and turtle-neck sweaters, even in the summer heat. Being a hardhead, I hadn’t yet realized that I couldn’t turn back the hands of time, so I pressed on with my futile quest for youth.
The next culprit was my hair. Pulling out the gray hairs only made matters worse. It left me with a sore scalp. Brazenly, more of those gray devils grew back at the speed of weeds after a spring shower. So, I counterattacked. I enlisted the aid of different French products. The French know what they are doing when it comes to beauty.
I shocked my graying mane into submission with a jet-black dye job. I thought that this stark color would knock off a few years and allow me to join the youthful ranks once again if only briefly. But after the dye job, I looked in my mirror, expecting to see another beautiful version of Halle Berry, Rihanna or Alicia Keys. But staring back at me was this individual who resembled Lily Munster and Granny Clampett. So to camouflage my mess, I added wide-brimmed hats to my growing pile of fashion accessories for dummies like me who are fighting that losing battle with Father Time.
It helps to have well-meaning friends when suffering through any crisis. Plus, they’re cheaper than a therapist. They comforted me through my divorce. They encouraged me through my Army career. And they tried to convince me that my gray strands made me look mature, seasoned, and distinguished like Lena Horne. To me, I looked wretched, threadbare, and frumpy like a bag lady.
Wearing six-inch heels every day posed no problem for me or my feet---when I was 20. But now, excruciating pain rockets up from my toes to my hips. And my knees! Lordy! I end up limping pitifully. Now, whenever I have to run any errands, I carry a pair of sneakers in my tote bag for feet emergencies.
As a teen, gaining weight was never an issue with me. I used to eat as much of anything I wanted to any time of the day or night, with no worry of risk to my young, cholesterol-fighting body. Recently, I tested the waters of my “mature” appetite.
At a pizza hub, I ordered a special, topped with everything except anchovies. I snacked on a jumbo order of fries and a large root beer. I finished this “teenage gourmet meal” with a double chocolate malt.
But a few hours later, my body fought back, punishing me with an unhealthy level of pent-up gas. Every time I moved, I unwillingly “notified” anyone downwind or within earshot of my “delicate” gassy condition. After suffering embarrassment from the scowls and frowns of passers-by, I prayed I wouldn’t sneeze before I could get home to go to the bathroom to save myself from further humiliation.
Now, I’ve reached some level of acceptance with myself. I’ve come to grips with the fact that aging isn’t necessarily a death sentence. It’s more like losing my favorite balloon to a gentle, yet necessary wind. And like my balloon, I have realized that my yout...