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!