Monthly Archives: June 2008

#51: Don’t Go Thinking This Is Normal

Do you remember the first time you saw a naked old person? There you were, all young and smooth-skinned and tight-bodied, thinking that was normal because you looked like everybody on TV. And then there was the shock of how different the old person looked: big gut, droopy boobs, wobbly butt, ewwww.

Except now that you’re the wobbly, droopy old person, it’s all too easy to start thinking you look normal. Everybody’s stomach sticks out like that! All thighs come packed with cellulite, everyone has a fupa.

Except they don’t. I’m not saying your body has to look like a 28-year-old’s; I’m just asking that you be realistic about the changes time has wrought. And please, at the beach this summer, don’t subject me to that gut flopping over a Speedo.

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Weekend Review: I’m Not Going To Stop and I Can’t Make Me

Now that How Not To Act Old has hit the 50-post mark, there’s too much here for any of us to keep in our heads. Especially me.

Therefore, I bring you the Weekend Review, in which I digest (and no, that is not a digestion discussion) the messages of previous posts, for those of you who are too lazy, too addled, too busy, or too forgetful to do it yourself.

Our first topic: Ways we’re not going to stop acting old, no matter what anybody (including a noted authority such as myself) says.

There’s some misconception that the message of HNTAO is that you’ve got to quit doing everything outlined here, no matter how much you like it. That’s not true. Rather, what I’m saying is that you should know that doing these things equals acting old, but you might want or need to do them anyway. My personal list of what I won’t or can’t stop doing:


#28:Listening to Springsteen — I genuinely believe Bruce is a genius. Plus, his hero is Philip Roth, who’s one of my heroes too. Plus, how could I work out without Bruce? You might be able to persuade me to offload my Motown, my reggae, my Donna Summer. But I’m forever strapped around Bruce’s engines.

#42: Reading — Come on, guys, did you really think I was serious about this one? Though as time goes on I find myself, like the rest of America, reading less and writing more.

#37: Throwing Dinner Parties — I received several (okay: one) impassioned pleas on this subject from valued dinner party guests. Don’t worry, I won’t stop. But once this blog starts turning big money, I’m hiring a cook.

#17: Drinking Cosmos — I know better than to order them in public anymore, and bars have started using a too-sweet mix. But in the privacy of my own home, the frozen Cosmo is turning into the drink of the summer: fresh-squeezed lime, a splash of cranberry juice, a little simple syrup, lots of vodka, and ice in a blender. Mmmmm.

#46: Hoping Lauren Conrad Will Go Away — Sorry, LC. Nothing personal. But one of the few good things about being in my 80s will be that I’ll no longer see your face on every cover.

#30: Emailing — I’d rather give up my Saturday night sex date.

#48: Man-Bashing — I love men, I really do. But since women of my generation didn’t get Title IX, this became our sport instead. And I need my workout.


#21: Leaving Messages — Too convenient.

#9: Planning — Too enamored of security.

#29: Eternal Dieting — Too enamored of both eating and looking good.

#41: Being Excited About Mondays — I love to work, and unless I’m forced to become a poodle-groomer, I don’t think that’s going to stop any time soon.

#49: Curbing My Cynicism — Definitely too late to become more innocent, plus skepticism and negativity are among my most adorable traits!

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#50: No, That Was Not Mary-Kate and Olsen You Saw On The Number 66 Bus

First off, it’s Mary-Kate and Ashley. Secondly, you can too tell them apart. Mary-Kate is a little shorter, skinnier, darker-haired and all-over pointier: that’s her on the right in the photo. And if that still isn’t clear, in breaking news Spencer Pratt told UsWeekly that Mary-Kate is “the less cute twin.”

The Olsen twins, for those who spent the past few decades on the planet Xebo, jointly played the baby on Full House and went on to become billionaires by doing something visible only to 11-year-old girls. And while they certainly seem to be everywhere, everywhere does not include your suburban commuter bus. Nor did you see one or both of them in your local pizza parlor (they subsist on air) or trying on shoes in Sports Authority.

Faux-sightings of vaguely-familiar baby celebrities is a common failing of the old. Yes, they all look alike. But that young, sweet, too-thin girl you saw on your local commuter bus was just the waif next door.

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#49: Curb Your Cynicism

When my kids really want to torture me, they say: “It’s all good.” They know I hate that phrase. It is not all good! The war in Iraq is not good! Children starving in Namibia and being abused in New Jersey is not good! My own day hasn’t even been half good!

So does this attitude make me a cynic? Undoubtedly. But it also makes me old.

I think the young like the “it’s all good” thing because they still want to believe that everything happens for the best. That guy that broke their heart? There’s a sweeter one around the corner. Didn’t get the job? Wouldn’t have liked it anyway.

I’d like to believe this too. But cynic that I am, I can’t. Still, it’s all better if you cloak that negative viewpoint.

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#48: Enough With The Man-Bashing

Sad, isn’t it? I mean, there go half my jokes. And nearly all my fun.

That’s right, it’s time to retire those quips about male refrigerator blindness and brains in penises. But before we declare an absolute moratorium, let me just tell you my favorite man-bashing joke, first relayed to me by the divine Mave Maclean of Hampstead, England:

Q: What do you call the useless bit of flesh attached to a penis?

A: A man.

For those unregenerate man-bashers among you, there are plenty more great jokes out there.

But if you’re determined to act younger, you should know that man-bashing has gone the way of bra-burning and do-it-yourself gynecology, another relic of old-style feminism. Feminists today love men, appreciate men, even revel in gender differences without needing to feel that men are in any way inferior to women, a stance I wholeheartedly support.

At least that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

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#47: Don’t Be A Chicken

Old people certainly don’t have a monopoly on fear. Some common fears — spiders, public speaking, even flying — may even be ones we’ve faced and conquered. But change and novelty, not so much. The fear of newness even has a name: Caicophobia.

Maybe you’re afraid to try a different haircut, since your current style has worked so well for you since 1993. Vacation in Virginia instead of Vermont? Undergo hynosis, or try bungee-jumping? Chicken, chicken, chicken, chicken. Not to mention the big fear inherent in doing something like moving across the country or changing careers, which forces you back into the position of being a rank beginner and so relatively ignorant and powerless, not a comfortable position for those of us who’ve achieved some measure of security and stature in our lives.

But being afraid to embrace the unknown can shorten your lifespan, at least if you’re a rat. One study shows that scaredy-cat rats die sooner than adventuresome ones. You’re safer bungee-jumping, in other words, than you are stressing over what will happen if you take the leap.

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#46: Stop Hoping Lauren Conrad Will Just Go Away

If you’re wondering who Lauren Conrad is, you’re worse off than I thought. Or better off: It might be preferable to live in blissful ignorance of Lauren, Heidi, Audrina, Spencer, and Brody (huh? who?) than to suffer the weekly — nay, daily, hourly — torture of wondering why Lauren et al are famous and when they’re just going to go away.

Never, that’s when. And yes, Lauren and her friends are richer than you, they’re treated more nicely, they get way more free goodies and fabulous job offers and they most certainly get lots more sex and love too. Of course it’s not fair, naturally you deserve it more, but hoping the world will see the error of its ways and turn its attention from them to you is just, well, immature.

My recommendation: Start watching The Hills (that’s the show whose dramatic arc follows the real breaking of Lauren’s real-life nail). While you’re at it, catch up on your Gossip Girl, which is The Wire by comparison. It may not be good for your soul, but it is good entertainment.

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