It happened. The invasion of the body snatchers. Deep in the darkest night, they came. I awoke and screamed. My body had been mysteriously replaced by something alien. It has wrinkles. And gray hair. Sagging skin and aching bones, two replaced knees, a fused back and implanted lenses post cataract surgery. If that’s not weird enough, it talks back to me in the most insolent ways. What the heck? How did this happen? The Borg of the Baby Boomers has arisen. Resistance is futile. YIKES!
In my head, I’m twenty-five, young enough to be quick witted, old enough to negotiate the world around me. In my head, I do cartwheels and headstands, run 10 k’s, and can still feel the flat belly I once had. Inside, I don’t feel sixty-six, but I’m desperately looking for that magic potion that will get rid of the lines someone keeps drawing on my face.
I’m young for my age, or so I’m told. Still, the mirror doesn’t lie. I’m shocked—as in SHOCKED—when I look at myself in the morning. Even more shocking is that I’ve noticed younger people have begun treating me differently. Truthfully, it’s annoying. It was particularly obvious when Ron and I went out to dinner a couple years ago. Our young waitress, without a smile, looked beyond me instead of at me. When I attempted to engage, she erected a barrier that told me I had nothing interesting to say. I noticed she did not treat her younger customers in a similar manner.
When my mother-in-law was in her upper nineties, she had to do some business at the bank. I wasn’t there to witness it, but what she described was agism at its worst. The banker talked over her head as if she wasn’t there. If he thought her mental acuity was missing, he was badly mistaken. She was old, yes, but she was anything but drifting in her mind.
I had to think back to my own experience when I was twenty-five. We were at a neighbor’s house for a reception. One of the attendees was a retired judge. I’d only met him once and wasn’t sure if he remembered me. When I re-introduced myself, he quickly cut me off, saying, “I may be old, but I’m not stupid!” Ouch. I got the message.
This is my message to the young waitress.
In Your Eyes
You took my order with a perfunctory glance,
a look that told me without a word I’m dull,
uninteresting, and worst of all, daft.
I keenly felt the bubble of age in your eyes.
You did not see my exuberance, my abandon,
my joy and promise. To you, my worth is defined
in lines that appear daily, the gray that
invades my once-youthful mane. Neither
your patronizing or arrogance goes without
notice. Your grating impertinence is
undeserving of my indignation, yet I’d like
to slap your ignorance six decades into
the future where you’d quickly repent.
Let me tell you a secret. It will pass
much faster than you can imagine.
Age will come, your plump skin will sag,
your eyes will dim, your hair will thin,
your feet will drag.
Then, a pert, brown-eyed teen
will ignore you while taking your order
and you will understand that you are
very lucky to sigh as I do now.