Why are my pants longer?

One of my “new 40” employees walked into the office aghast that his pants were dragging by a good two inches. Apart from the fact that at his age and mine every inch counts: this revelation sent shivers in both our spines. Now I have been trying to ignore the fact that my mother at 97 stands at four foot eight in heels. But she was always petite, right? I also try to ignore the fact that recently my shoe size has shrunk from a seven to a six. Those Chinese are making shoes for their feet not ours. Right? I am also ignoring the fact that while some areas of my body are shrinking, others, like my waist have taken a life of their own. So what gives? Do we shrink as we grow older? At five foot (without heels), am I looking forward to continual shrinking until I can audition as a munchkin in a rendition of the Wizard of Oz?

As my colleague and I pondered on our future as shrinkees, we received unsolicited opinion from those around us: “it is well known that as you age you shrink.” Notice the implication that we must be the only two individuals in the world who are currently shrinking, hence the impertinent “you.” Oh really…nobody whispered that little tid bit in my ear as the years crept up on me. Are we supposed to buy shorter pants so that eventually we fit into them? How come there are no products for shrinking? We have “senior” products for every part of our anatomy, why not for shrinking? Why can’t I “Alice In Wonderland” myself with a potion and put on inches in height? Why can’t a plastic surgeon botox me into remaining my normal height (although five foot never seemed too normal for some)?

Aging is a process full of surprises. We wake up one morning and discover that what we thought was a cute freckle has spread like a fungus into brownish spots. Ugh! “Oh, honey those are aging spots.” Really? How come we do not tell some acne faced kid “Honey, those are youth spots.” However, give me acne on my arms as a sign of youth any day, but aging spots are too permanent, too conclusive of the fact that the years are piling on. The discovery that one’s body has shrunk a few inches is disconcerting to say the least. It does not bode well with what we should be expecting next. Although we have watched our parents age, aging is still a process that we leave to others. I remember my mother who at 80 used to go and visit “those old people” at the home. She referred to anyone a few months older than she was as “old.” Was that her way of feeling better about herself and the inevitable years creeping upon her? She still looks at the obituaries and makes snide remarks when someone younger than she passes away. If she could, she would dance a victory dance. Her way of rebelling against old age and the inevitable.

We try to cheat our way through aging in creative and obtruse ways. We spend billions of dollars extending youth toward the inevitable brown spots, aches, pains, and the ultimate shrinking. Even Jane Fonda probably shrunk a few inches since her hot Hanoi days. Why do we fight it so vehemently? Why do we struggle to push back old age? What are we afraid of? Why are we so bent to remain on this earth? Is it the fear of death and its unkown concept, or is it self-indulgence? I have no answers, but I am late for my appointment with my dressmaker: she needs to trim two inches off my pants!

 

“Senior” is a multi billion dollar business

The good old USA is home to the best in fast food, sports, clothes, nature and: a generation of seniors. Or so it seems. I have discovered that being over 60 provides drug and chemical companies inspiration on how to sucker us into buying products that are supposed to improve our “quality of life.” “Quality of life” is an expression invented by yuppies in the 90’s to make a buck from products they think old people would like. Notice I did not say the PC correct word “senior” but old. Madison Avenue and drug companies like to glamorize old age, or those of us on the road to old age. They turned old age into an epic like Gone With The Wind glamorized the Civil War. Yes it was nasty but it gave us Clark Gable. Yes the South burnt but it did so epically and with Southern flair. The damn yankees provided the meat to the movie as old people provide billions to the drug companies.

Here is a sample of what one may see on one ordinary every day night of prime time viewing on the major networks and cable:

Forget about constipation, it  does not have to be painful, if you are over 50 you can take a special laxative that helps your golf swing the next morning. You lucky guy you. Everyone is smiling and happy to be over 50 and constipated. Are there any commercials for teenage constipation?

The gooey denture grip commercial almost makes one wish one was toothless. Who would not want a hunk over 50 to dance the night away with on a cruise ship? Only prime time can make us feel good about ourselves and having to glue false teeth to our gums. What an opener for a senior dating game!

Among the favorites in “senior” commercials on any given night are: erectal dysfunction, bladder dysfunction, hair loss, sight impairment, and botox. However nothing prepared me for the catheter commercial. That was the winner. The voice of sexy enthusiasm and exuberance promoting catheters in all shapes and sizes left me with a tingling feeling that these instruments were as exciting as vibrators on a lonely night. I felt like calling the 800 free number and order several to include the ones that fit in my purse because they are “the size of a pen!” Who would not want that? As various catheters rapidly enter our view with eclactic vigor, a “senior” is on the phone smiling and eager to order this amazing piece of bladder joy.

My mother just turned 97 and she is old. She is not a “senior” she is old. She requires bladder protection and assistance to get dressed. Her hair is l grey and she keeps her dentures in a box marked “classified.” There is nothing glamorous about the ailments and frailities that befall us as we grow older. All the commercials in the world cannot hide the fact that growing old is tiresome. I asked my mother what it feels like being 97. Without batting an eyelash she replied: tiring.

Are we eluding ourselves about growing old? Do we feel that if we “fix” ourselves up we are less biologically impaired and more socially acceptable? Are seniors really so gullible as to go out and buy any product that is on the market? Am I ever going to feel the urge to indulge in hair replacement, teeth implants, catheters, and botox? Has growing old become so socially unacceptable that we must find ways to make it bearable by glamorizing and minimizing the one truth of growing old: it is tiring?