Monthly Archives: July 2008

#82: Stop All That Moving Around

Fifties basketball star Dr. Sylvia Colston-Stills, 71, still shoots hoops every day.  Though she may hang up her hightops after reading this.

Fifties basketball star Dr. Sylvia Colston-Stills, 71, still shoots hoops every day. Though she may hang up her hightops after reading this.

Here’s a counterintuitive directive: If you want not to act old, you’ve got to knock off all that surfing, skating, basketball-playing and cardio-kickboxing you’ve evidently been doing. Lying on the couch, staying out of the gym, and sitting on the sidelines are the sports of the young, while middle-aged and older people are the ones who are joining ice hockey teams and wearing themselves out on elliptical trainers.

So says a new British study, which found that more and more middle-aged and older people are exercising and playing sports, while fewer young people are exercising than ten years ago. My scientific analysis: We’ve been doing all that kayaking and cycling in a misguided attempt to be thinner and more limber — aka, younger — and to stave off dying. The evil young, meanwhile, say, Ha! We’re thin and limber without even trying. And we know we’re never gonna die.

Well, ha back atcha, evil young. I now know there’s an infinitely easier and more effective way to act younger: sit on my big fat ass. So sayonara, Zumba. Bye-bye, Bikram. If I lounge here long enough, everybody’s going to think I’m 28 again.

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#81: Learn To Type With Your Thumbs

Old people behavior of which I am guilty: Holding your phone at arm’s length (so you can read the numbers and letters, natch!) and then typing with your index finger.

No no no no. You’ve got to pretend your index finger doesn’t even exist. Forget the middle, ring, and pinky fingers too.

The young way to dial your phone or to text or type on your BlackBerry or iPhone is with your thumbs. Yes, all with your thumbs.

There are online guides to thumb-typing, like this one by Mark Rejhon. Following this method would probably work, but I’m too impatient and probably even too old to read past step 2 in the directions.

Instead, I’ve been entertaining myself by typing away as fast as I can (not fast) with my thumbs on my new iPhone (yes! I’m so cool!) and then chuckling over what mistakes I make and how the iPhone corrects them. Except sometimes the corrections are funnier than the mistakes.

The other night I was trying to type “there’s no fucking way….” except what showed up on the screen was “there’s no ducking way…..”

So I typed it again, but this time with my index finger, checking old people-style to make sure I was hitting the right keys. That’s when I saw that it was the iPhone that was automatically changing my fucking to ducking. Not so cool!

Here’s a demonstration of iPhone thumb-typing, extolling the virtues of the autocorrect feature. But this guy is obviously not telling the whole ducking story:

, Apple

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#s 75-80: How Not To Act Old Around Your Babysitter

You and your babysitter, you’re a team, compadres, right? Riiiiiiiight. It may have occurred to you, somewhere in the years you’ve been employing childcare, that your sitter is a lot closer in age to your nine-year-old than she is to you. You may think that you’re both the adults, in league against the kids, but you’re wrong.

Jen Singer, the creator of MommaSaid.net and author of You’re a Good Mom (and Your Kids Aren’t So Bad Either), offers these tips for not acting (too) old around your babysitter:

1. Text your babysitters. They don’t do phone calls, and they really don’t want to talk to you, especially when you call them while they’re out with friends.

2. Know what the hell Twitter is. A plus: Actually use it to keep in contact with your sitter and children.

3. Do not attempt to impress your sitters with modern lingo, such as referring to your husband as your “baby daddy.”

4. Resist the urge to point out that the ring tone on their cell phone was originally recorded by Prince, whom you saw in concert while wearing leg warmers and a Flashdance style dress.

5. Don’t lecture them on how the M in MTV used to refer to “Music.” You know, back when Prince was hot and so were you.

6. Try not to appear as though you’ve just been punched in the stomach when your babysitter tells you that when you got married in 1991, she had not yet been born.

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#74: Forget the Sixties Nostalgia

So, you were at Woodstock? Ate mushrooms with Kesey, chanted with Ram Dass, wrote poetry naked with Ginsberg?

I’m sure that was all mind-blowingly groovy, but I have news for you, Grandpa (and Grandma): Reminiscing about the sixties now is like recalling Prohibition was when we were young. Cue wavering voice: “Let me tell you, sonny, we got up to some crazy shenanigans in those speakeasies.” For those of you who are mathematically challenged, it’s been 40 whole years since 1968, the same amount of time as 1968 was from 1928.

As further illustration of how long ago that all was, check out these words coined in 1928, from the Online Entymology Dictionary, a very dry name for one of the very best sites I know. Nookie with a bimbo, anyone? But words brought to you by 1968 don’t sound much more modern: unisex, dweeb, and the Fosbury Flop.

The point: The sixties are ancient history and not of great interest to anyone who wasn’t actually there. So too the seventies: We really don’t need to know who did what to whom that night you went to Plato’s Retreat (ewwww, you did?) or what you snorted with whom at Studio 54. Even the eighties, which I basically missed thanks to the joys of parenthood, are getting kind of antique.

As one of my favorite New Yorker cartoons, by Jack Ziegler, goes: “The sixties are over. The seventies are over. The eighties, for God’s sake, are over.” And now the nineties are over, and pretty soon the oughties will be over too.

Young people are allowed to have nostalgia for the decades and icons of their childhoods: early Madonna and late Kurt Cobain, leg warmers and flannel shirts. You can reminisce about where you were in Y2K.

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#73: Cancel the Trip to Provence

Peter Mayle’s A Year In Provence hit the bestseller list in 1991, whereupon every American who could afford it rented a villa in the south of France. If you figure that most of those people were at least 30 when they developed their passion for Provence, they’re now nearly 50. And like them, Provence is peut etre un peu past its prime.

That’s right: If you want not to act old, you’ve got to give up your fields of lavender, your striped hammocks, your country markets selling homemade olives and artisanal wine. No more brightly-printed table linens, buckets of sunflowers, espadrilles or straw hats. The ancient mas with cornflower-blue shutters, vine-hung pergola, and swimming pool must be traded in for someplace more au courant, youthful.

Like where, you may ask? Not, God forbid, Tuscany. That’s just Provence with pasta. The Cotswolds and Cornwall, Umbria and the Dordogne are similarly played: the Mojitos, the Burberries of vacation destinations.

How about Berlin? Berlin is young, hip, happening. (I see you there, making a face, envisioning a grim gray city patrolled by scary guards in great coats. But that’s an old image. Now Berlin is all emerging artists and musicians and cool lofts, or so I’ve heard. I have no desire to actually go there.)

Vietnam could work, or really anywhere that only old people remember as a war-torn wasteland. Croatia. Syria. Libya. Iraq. Whooops, maybe not yet: We’ll leave our children to bask in Basra.

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#72: C’mon, Tell Us All About Your Sex Life

How often do you have sex? Do you have orgasms? Only when you masturbate or during intercourse too? What exactly makes you come? How do you move, what do you think about, how long does it take?

What? What’s that you say? That information is too personal? Well, you must be over 40.

Which details about your sex life you’re willing to divulge to whom varies greatly depending on how old you are, a study conducted solely in my head shows. Here, my findings by age:

Under 21 — Happily share half-naked pictures of self and divulge all details of hookups — who, what, how big, how good, etc. — with several hundred Facebook “friends.” At least that’s my fear.

21-30 — No shame about strutting around naked at the gym or lifting up shirt to display boobs at party. Will freely discuss all aspects of sex life — including details on partners, habits, and problems — with friends, colleagues, and random strangers they encounter at a meetup. (What’s a meetup? That’s another post.)

30-40 — Will openly talk about everything from orgasms to waxing habits to porn viewership with anyone they’ve met more than, say, once.

40-50 — Most follow the Sex and the City model, sharing intimate details with closest friends but otherwise keeping it quiet.

50-60 –– People in their fifties, who came of age during the Sexual Revolution, may be open enough to experiment with sex toys, positions, and fantasies, but usually not to talk about it. Not even with their closest friends. Maybe not even with the person they’re doing it with.

60 plus — The door is firmly shut and they’ve thrown away the key.

My evidence: Watch how nervous Barbara Walters gets during this sex discussion on The View:

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#71: Never Admit You Hated “The Dark Knight”

Like most other Americans last weekend, I went to see The Dark Knight, aka the new Batman movie.

Here was my experience of watching the film:

Wow, Heath Ledger really does look weird. Scary. And yet strangely…comical. Those wrinkles under that makeup. That lizard tongue. And that voice, that accent, he sounds like someone, I can’t quite place it….

I wonder how Christian Bale gets so hunky and then so skinny over and over again. What kind of diet does he go on? What’s his training regime? I wonder whether that would work for me….

And speaking of thin, Maggie Gyllenhaal looks pretty good. But is she suposed to be the same exact character that Katie Holmes was in the last movie? If Batman’s so powerful, how come he doesn’t notice she’s a different person?

Why is that Chinese guy taking all the money to China? And why is Batman going to China to get it back? Why does he care about the bad guys’ money? I’m a little confused though I’m sure it will all come clear.

Heath Ledger’s voice. It sounds kind of Midwestern, kind of effeminate. Maybe someone who used to be on TV….

So is Morgan Freeman God? Are he and Michael Caine kind of the same person? Are all old guys in movies wise but deferential supporters of young guys? Should I blog about that?

Oh no, I’m really not following this. Maybe if I stop thinking about How Not To Act Old, I’ll pick up the thread.

Why, whenever I hear Heath Ledger’s voice, do I think of Carol Burnett?

Is Maggie Gyllenhaal dead or alive? Is Gary Oldman honest or corrupt? Is Aaron Eckhart tall or short? Is Gotham City supposed to be New York or Chicago? And who the hell are those people on that boat?

On the movie, I totally give up. But Heath’s voice, I’ve got it! He sounds just like this campy gay actor who was on Carol Burnett and then on Hollywood Squares, Paul somebody, Paul Paul Paul: Paul Lynde!

I was relieved, when I came out of the movie, to find that my husband had had the same experience. But when we got home and told our 18-year-old son about it, he looked at us like he wanted to take us out behind the garage and put us down now, before we crumbled into dust all on our own.

The Dark Knight is a highly revered film, he told us, with “an 82 metascore.” The most esteemed critics on the planet were calling it a masterpiece and Heath Ledger’s performance legendary. Plus, Heath Ledger’s tragic life and early death have put him above criticism, and definitely above ridicule. So obviously we were wrong, due to being hopelessly out of it.

The lesson: Don’t admit to any young people of your acquaintance that you are baffled by or hate The Dark Knight. But just between us, on the Paul Lynde thing: Am I right or what?

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