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You Gotta Defy Age While You Still Can


(I wish I’d made this cute cake but alas, I didn’t. found the pic on the internet)

My husband joined AARP. I told him it was a mistake, if for no other reason than a psychological one. Who wants to be lumped in the oldster crowd the minute you crest 50?

(I had to put this picture in–I googled “old man with walker” to pull up a picture of an old man with a walker and THIS is what it shows me?! So I’ll say this is me defying the old man with walker mentality ;-)

Now we get brochures in the mail for nursing homes, which is premature, for one thing. Plus, with this lame economy, don’t they know we’ll be sleeping on park benches by the time we actually need a nursing home? Although by then I envision gulag-style developments where all the broke, aged baby boomers who lost their retirement savings in the real estate bubble will be relegated to wither away during their twilight years, tooling around in half-broken wheelchairs over cracked failing pavement. How’s that for golden years?! If we’re lucky we’ll be housed in all of the default-loan houses that can’t sell because no one can afford to buy them because no one can get jobs because corporations are too busy stockpiling record earnings for the top 1% of their staff to bother hiring anyone else and creating jobs so people can afford to, um, live. Sorry, I got a little off-topic. Back to early aging (although I call dibs on a house in Miami if it comes to my prediction).
My girlfriend, now in her early 50’s, joined the senior’s tennis league because she can happily whip the butts of the much older gals. She thrilled to win and win handily this way, and she’s got a valid point there. So maybe acceding to age isn’t always a mistake–it can be gratifying.

(my friend would not appreciate this picture and what it suggests about older tennis players losing their, um, charms)

I enjoyed a brief phase as a tennis player (not a good one, just serviceable). I’d always wanted to flit about in a cute tennis skirt and the only way you can really get away with that is if you play the sport. So I did, until I kept getting injured and had to stop. So I had to give up my cute skirts. Now they have exercise skirts which I’d so love to don but as a keen observer of what does and does not work in gym wear, I recognize that a) you have to have a rockin’ body to wear exercise skirts and b) you can’t be my age and get away with wearing them unless you’ve run at least ten marathons in the past five years–it’s like a golden ticket pass.
Wise to the cuteness factor of tennis skirts, for years I tried to encourage my girls to play tennis but they would have nothing to do with it. “Think of the cute outfits!” I told them, but it fell on deaf ears. And then my youngest finally got her chance for adorable sportswear last year when she was recruited to pinch-hit for her varsity field hockey team when they needed a goalie. A long-time soccer goalie, she’d never played field hockey before, and I’d never seen a match before, so I naively thought, “At last, she’s going to have a cute uniform, those adorable little plaid skirts! Lucky her!” Imagine my surprise when I showed up at the game to see my daughter in goal looking like the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man, garbed as she was in boxy padding that essentially hid every hint of her existence. I was happy for her from a safety standpoint, but felt badly she got the short end of the uniform stick.

I saw an exercise skirt today that I really want (but will not succumb to, knowing that it’s the female equivalent of the very large guy on the show Modern Family wearing tight bicycle shorts–a big no no for all involved. My girls forever warn me not to look like that at the gym and I generally take heed. But this girl had on a skirt with back pleats that swished when she walked and darn it, I want to swish when I walk but then I realized I’m not a swisher, never have been, and nearing 50, it’s past the point at which I’m even allowed to swish. You have to recognize your limitations, I always say. But it also doesn’t mean I have to yield to my age and join the AARP, which I won’t, thank you. At least not till I can reap the benefits of the senior citizen discounts, maybe.
Last week my husband got a special gift from AARP. A leather-look vinyl man-purse. Just the thing he needed to complete the loser picture he signed up for. As if it’s not bad enough, it’s emblazoned with the AARP logo, just to seal the deal. I suppose at least it wasn’t a man-skirt.

I dunno, maybe I’m being unfair with this whole AARP thing. Perhaps it’s useful to get the inside scoop on the latest in retirement villages. Even if it is cruel, dangling fancy retirement homes in front of him, considering at this rate we’ll never even be able to sell our house, let alone retire. We might even have to turn it into a retirement apartment or something, at the rate the economy is going.
Jenny Gardiner is the author of the award-winning novel Sleeping with Ward Cleaver, as well as the novels Slim to None and Over the Falls, the novel House of Cards, and the humorous memoir Winging It: A Memoir of Caring for a Vengeful Parrot Who’s Determined to Kill Me. She also has a story in Wade Rouse’s upcoming humorous dog anthology I’m Not the Biggest Bitch in This Relationship (NAL/Sept ’11), a fundraiser for the Humane Society of the US and selected animal charities.





Categories: Books, humor, Jenny Gardiner, Over the Falls, Sleeping with Ward Cleaver, Slim to None, Winging It: A Memoir of Caring for a Vengeful Parrot Who's Determined to Kill Me, women's fiction

Oh, My Achin'...

once you hit middle age, sometimes you feel like this guy must
once you hit middle age, sometimes you feel like this guy must

“What’re you in for?” I asked an acquaintance I ran into while at physical therapy the other day.

“Bum hip,” she said, hobbling toward me as she winced. “You?”

“More like what am I not in for,” I groaned, pointing to my swollen knee and rubbing my aching lower back.

Seems I’m doomed to serve a life sentence in rehab (physical, mind you, not addiction-related), what with my perpetually disabled everything. And so far there are no signs of potential time off for good behavior.It’s gotten so bad, that I’ve had to triage my aching joints to capitalize on the hard-to-obtain appointments with the physical therapist to help mend my injuries-du-jour. I’d already had a standing date with a fabulous PT to work on my always-nagging lower back issues, but when I tore my meniscus (that’s in the knee, for all you age-related injury neophytes), all of a sudden the back issues had to take the back burner, in order to figure out how to work with a niggling knee problem instead. Like a medic on the war front, I’m dispatched to relegate the least of my injuries to the back, while refocusing on the worst of the worst just to get out of the line of fire and remain as intact as possible. Shame, too, because I always looked forward to my PT appointments for my hobbled back, as the therapist was masterful in loosening up those culprit hip flexor muscles that were causing my back to misbehave in the first place. And while the pleasure/pain factor was at a premium during that deep-tissue work (at times deep enough to nearly land me on the threshold of tears), the end results were worth the pain.

Sometimes I love physical therapy. Like when they hook you up to that fabulous e-stim and get your muscles tingling with the electrical zap being transmitted intra-bodily. Throw in one of those ultra-heated therapeutic warming pads and I’m sleeping like a baby in no time flat. But now the bum knee demands e-stim with ice, not such a stimulating event. Well, actually overly stimulating, as I sit there with my teeth chattering, watching my muscles jump involuntarily with the zap and counting the minutes till the torture is over.

Now, while all of this “kneecapping” (i.e. being cut off at the knees by physical limitations) is easily attributable to the lamentable deterioration of a body due to wear and tear (also known as aging, in layman’s terms), I fear that much of it is my own stupid fault: it’s thanks to me behaving as if I’m eighteen rather than not-quite-forty-eight. Refusing to accept that maybe kickboxing isn’t such a good idea at this point, for instance.

Although sometimes it’s due to other circumstances I should have controlled. Take, for instance, the Sam’s Club injuries. Who here hasn’t thrown out some bodily part while lugging an item far bigger than we need to purchase while shopping at Sam’s? Come to think of it, that’s how I originally threw my back out, years ago: hauling cases from shelf to cart, then cart to car, and finally car to home. Buying something in product-on-steroids volume that I don’t even need a case of, but only because it’s the only way you can purchase it for cheap: a gross of this, a palette of that and whammy, you’re wounded. The irony is that the cost savings of Sam’s Club acquisitions should go directly into the medical-insurance-physical-therapy fund, because guaranteed you’ll ultimately hurt something lugging that stuff around and need medical treatment for it, the cost of which will far exceed the ten percent you saved buying it there in the first place.

I’m convinced it’s no small coincidence that Sam’s Club sells bottles of Advil large enough to supply a small hospital for a month: most of their customers probably need the pills simply to ease the pain and inflammation from shopping-related physical damage. They might as well put Don’t Forget the Advil reminder poster at the exits, right by the little old folks who swipe those receipts with a highlighter marker to ensure no theft (God forbid the megalithic retail chain lose a buck or two along the way). I’m thinking the real theft is in Sam’s Club stealing my well-being away from me by forcing me to act in the capacity as a virtual longshoreman, hauling enormous cargo needlessly. Maybe Sam’s needs to contribute to my insurance bill at this point.

I remember as a child hearing my “elders” lament their age-related failings: the aches, the pains, the feet that hurt when rain was in the forecast. And I distinctly recall my smugly thinking at the time, “Well, if they’d only been more active and taken care of themselves they’d not be in this position.” Little did I know my cockiness would come back to bite me, dammit. More like chronically wound me. Trust me, I’m paying for it. And you know what they say about payback. Not only does it rhyme with witch, but it hurts like a rhymes-with-witch as well.

(and a day after my first appointment for my knee, the insurance called to say I was out of physical therapy appointment allowances for the year, dammit!)


Categories: humor, Jenny Gardiner, Over the Falls, Sleeping with Ward Cleaver, Slim to None, Winging It: A Memoir of Caring for a Vengeful Parrot Who's Determined to Kill Me, women, women's fiction