|Katherine Helmond gets a lift in|
Terry Gilliam's Brazil
My mind--which works like one of Jessica Tate's soliloquies*--hopped from the arrival of February, to important dates, to forty years ago, to omigod in forty more years, I'm going to be really old! If I'm even alive at all! Then, my mind got a little sad. A little verklempt. I mean, geez, 1971 was a long time ago and everything, but I remember it. Some of it I remember pretty well. And while it's conceivable that I do have forty (or even more) years left--particularly since I quit smoking**--I can't say that for very much longer, can I?
I'm sure that everybody comes to these realizations, and that everyone has their own way of dealing with it. When the future calendar pages can only be realistically read as 20 more years, 10. . .will I really freak out? Or will it just be one of those things you eventually absorb? I suppose I should listen to the more reasonable side of my brain that knows I could die tomorrow (I can't use the "hit by a bus" metaphor. It actually happened to someone I know. Really). And I'd imagine that at certain ages. . .at least if the body or brain is giving out. . .you might not want to go on for 10 or 20 more years.
One of the more interesting things about aging today, is watching the generation ahead of mine (I'm early Generation X), the Baby Boomers, fight aging tooth and nail. When they hit their 40s and 50s, they didn't automatically get the old lady dress, the grandpa pants, the Brylcreem, the granny hairdo and shawl, like many of their parents did. It didn't hurt that the Boomers were the generation of rock & roll and counter culture. Knocking trends was what they did. Well, that, and plastic surgery became a little more acceptable.
My own parents are still going pretty much full blast all the time. My bosses--two ladies--are Boomers, and they're still going strong. Almost everyone I know born in the forties and fifties defy the image I had of "old people" when I was a kid. Ask most of them, and they probably wouldn't consider themselves old, and might get indignant at the suggestion. Turn on the news, and check out the commercials: Viagra. Boniva. Knee Replacements. Heart medicine. But look closely at all the actors pitching that stuff. Perky Sally Field, butch guys climbing mountains, the studly silver fox and his cougar in side-by-side bathtubs on the beach. Yeah, I don't get that last one either, but you see what I'm getting at. Basically, I'm feeling the same age as the Boomers, and I'm a generation behind them!
What they're probably going to do is, they're going to wear us out. We're going to see a whole generation ahead of us clinging to youth, eventually losing the battle anyway, as we all will. And we Gen-Xers are gonna throw up our hands and say, "why bother!" We'll hitch up our branches to our armpits, get our horn-rimmed glasses with the chain, black socks and sandals. . . It ain't gonna be pretty!
* The Katherine Helmond character on Soap always talked in a verbial hopscotch: "I know what I know, but I don't know what I don't know, but I do know that I don't know. You know?" What's more, there's a Benson character in my head too, and he understands.
** Wrapping up 28 days! Woohoo! Pass the cold turkey, who says it can't be done.