Saturday, February 10, 2018

The Decrepitator

Oh, you shiny young people! Yes, you can get up out of a chair without gruntulating. Yes, you can herd the Internet through the ether using only your retinas. Yes, you have tiny adorable pores. Good for you! But you know what you can't do? You can't age somebody fifty years just like that.

We can do that. We do it all the time. It's awesome. Just the other day I saw a picture of a little old man who turned out to be one of the Monkees. Not the cute one, or the other cute one, or the super cute one--the smart one. I happen to know exactly what he looks like, with his little knitted hat, because he's right there in my head. I'd recognize him anywhere. And he went straight from that little knitted hat to this little old man, the kind you'd see fumbling in the grocery line trying to swipe his card four different ways before the clerk does it for him, and not like a Daydream Believer at all.

Sometimes the rocker types continue, in their seventies, to dress in their underpants and eye makeup and scary hair like they're still twenty, and they look like twenty-year-old burn victims. And it's not as shocking. It's what you'd expect. If you're a kid in the '60s and you try to imagine your Monkee fifty years older, you'd give him a receding hairline and a saggy chin and draw some lines on his face, but somehow you'd miss the true picture. Ultimately, he was recognizable. Respectable, even.

I remember watching TV with my mom and dad when June Allison or somebody else I'd never heard of came on hawking diapers in a commercial and both my parents went Whoa, what happened to her, as though whatever it was hadn't happened to them too. I thought: Why would anyone be surprised by what a little old lady looks like? She looks like a little old lady. Naturally, I assumed little old ladies were born that way, so the process of transition was pretty theoretical to me. It was not, at any rate, something to take seriously.

It's thrilling to witness an abrupt fifty-year aging. It's the kind of thing high school reunions are famous for, and it's remarkable how fast you get used to it. You're all, Whoa, dudes, what happened to you? And then a minute later it's Oh Hi Steve Linda Gary Debbie, and everyone settles down. Somebody will show up looking like Jane Fonda does at eighty, which is not natural, and you're mature enough to shrug and not take it personally.

You young people can't do that. You can't suddenly see your friends transform into old people. Closest you can come is that age-progression thing you might see on a milk carton where they take some little kid who's been missing a while and try to computerate him into his current age, but it never looks right. It looks like weirdly artificial skin deterioration, as though the kid has aged for real and then gone in with a grade-B photo editor and tried to smudge himself up. But that's the best you can do. You know, unless your friends are on meth.

The thing young people don't quite get about us old ladies is that we still feel all fresh and new and spongey inside our old lady suits. And then we peer out our eye-holes and BAM our friends are suddenly fifty years older. It feels like having a superpower. We're, like, The Decrepitator!

It's a few minutes before we recognize the flaw in our outlook. That we're really more like Superman, tracking in a little Kryptonite on our booties. Uh-oh!

56 comments:

  1. I can see where dying is a necessary part of the circle of life -- especially if procreation is as exponential as it is. But aging? Isn't that just Mother Nature rubbing it in and being a bitch? It would be so much less scary to grow older if one retained one's youthful looks and agility until the end, and then one day just keeled over or didn't wake up. Death doesn't scare me nearly as much as decrepitude.

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    1. Or if we all had a personal bus we don't see coming.

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  2. I can do the opposite, too. I see my Mom in the mirror all the time, and she doesn't look a day older than she did thirty years ago!

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    1. Right? My mom didn't think she looked good and she didn't like having her picture taken. I thought she looked great. But I look a lot like her, and I don't think I look good. Go figure.

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  3. Hey, no problem here, as long as I don't put my glasses on in front of the bathroom mirror.

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    1. We don't have many mirrors in the house. It's more peaceful that way.

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  4. Old lady suits----exactly! I look so much older than I feel. And Jane Fonda's character in Frankie and .....referred to herself in an episode as a 71-year old. I guess we can fool ourselves if we need to.

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    1. 71, she did? Well that makes that scene a lot better--the one where she took off her makeup and extensions to show how old she really is. Because since I know she's eighty, I was thinking: oh, honey, you need to do a lot more than that to look your age.

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    2. ...or rather, undo a lot more than that.

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  5. Geez. Unfortunately, I was supplied with a FAT old lady suit. I'm working on trimming her down, but you can't trim off the old part.

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    1. Fat old lady suits are much better for avoiding osteoporosis.

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    2. Oh good, I'll use that one at my annual physical when the doctor does that disapproving thing.

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  6. And, btw, even as a preteen, I considered Mike to be the smart AND cute one. I listened to the Monkees all day at work yesterday!

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    1. He was always my favorite as well. I always liked the quirky ones; my favorite Beatle was Ringo, because he was funny and I like big noses.

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    2. I didn't get here in time, but I was going to ask unmitigated me who her favorite Beatle was. I also like big noses but I liked George. And Peter Tork.

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    3. I was not unique as had a crush on Davy Jones and actually met him! He talked with me about an hour where I was working and then asked for a kiss...I gave it to him! Swoon! When he asked me for my phone # I had to decline as I had a boyfriend! He was not happy to hear of my kiss!!!

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    4. Huge Monkee fan. So huge I was unimpressed by the Beatles. I was only 9 so, hey.

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    5. The Beatles were kind of old hat by then, I guess. I was nine when THEY started up.

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  7. "Naturally, I assumed that little old ladies were born that way" and "The thing young people don't quite get about us old ladies is that we still feel all fresh and new and spongey inside our old lady suits" . . . these two lines pretty well sum it up for me. I've been thinking of this all week because I ran across old video of Betty White as a young thing on "What's My Line." I'd never seen her before her Mary Tyler Moore years. Even knowing what I know about being an old lady, I still thought to myself, Hmm, I thought she always looked like she did on the Mary show. Ohhh no, she didn't. She was bright and shiny and beautiful. And I'm travelling along that one-way track to looking like she does now at 96. Aging sucks. Although not aging is kind of sucky too.

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    1. My first memory of Betty White was on Password. She was gorgeous. Good point about not aging.

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    2. Did you know that she went into radio because she was told she was "unphotogenic"? And before that she wanted to be a ranger but couldn't because she was a woman, although that's a whole other issue! (info from Wikipedia)

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    3. On what planet is Betty White not photogenic?

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    4. Planet movie studios, according to the wiki article.

      But then, they don't seem to have had a clue about women in any other way, either.

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    5. Although they kept examining them as closely as possible.

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  8. And "Star Trek" turned 50 a couple years ago. Most of the actors have transported permanently. Sigh.

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    1. I never watched that, and yet I can name most of the characters because it's been so ubiquitous. Uh, same with Star Wars!

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  9. I suppose you realise that I'll have to trawl through Google to find out 1) if that older man in the first picture was a Monkee and 2) who the other Monkees are/were

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    1. If you want to save yourself the time, (1) yes, he was--that's Mike Nesmith; and (2) the other three were Peter Tork, Mickey Dolenz, and Davy Jones, who is now, unfortunately, deceased.

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    2. Bpadgett: sailing the internet so you don't have to.

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    3. Peter was actually Peter Torkelson but shortened it for the show and band.

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    4. I remember that. (Because he was my favorite.)

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  10. I think one of the reasons for gaining a little weight and sagging parts is that gravity has gotten stronger. I first noticed this when I would lift things that were much lighter years before. Have the physicists said anything about it?

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    1. I have more personal gravity than almost anyone I know. It's remarkable how fast I can hit the pavement.

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  11. I always wonder if I look as old as all of those people I went to school with. Of course the answer is yes but since I am inside this old lady suite but my mind is out there well...I don't think so. ;)

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    1. I wonder that too. I really have no idea what I look like to other people. I hope I get so old I become invisible to the general population. Then I'm going to spy on their asses.

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  12. Murr, you and Dave are still adorable. Loved this blog.

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    1. Aww! Adorable is certainly what we aspire to. ;)

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  13. It's like me looking into the mirror and seeing me the way I feel, then one morning waking after a night of disturbed sleep and in the mirror is an old woman who looks a bit like my mother and a bit like me.

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    1. The worst for me is the morning light through my bathroom window. That's why I get up at nine now.

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    2. And photos. Today in the mail I received copies of photos taken at a Christmas/New Year dinner with girls I used to work with. The fat, pink-cheeked, grey-haired grandma was me! Doesn't look anything like the me I see in the mirror.

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    3. ...except first thing in the morning...

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  14. I always say I am a 23 year old trapped in this old carcass. Though now almost the same size as I was long ago as lost tons of weight and acting like a teen!!!! Do not care if everyone thinks I am nuts...I am having fun!

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    1. 23 is not an age I really want to revisit--I just want to be farther away from dead.

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  15. I tell everyone I am 10 years older than I actually am, because they always respond with, "You look GREAT for your age." Cheers me all up.

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    1. You and I had the same idea. I'd make it even more extreme. I quit doing it the day I was around 45 and some 20-year-old asked me how old I was. I said I was 65. She said "Oh."

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  16. Lately people have been telling me I look just the same as I did years ago. Then I realize they're missing the gray hair and wrinkles because they've gotten old and they need glasses.

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  17. I guess I carried in a whole basketful of kryptonite. Unintentionally, of course. What? Thought it was puppies? Hang in there, Murr; the next twenty years won't be any less surprising.

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  18. Oh, how true every word of this is. He's unrecognisable except that when I look hard at him, he isn't. There he is in his little knitted hat. Argh. Now, there's this little old lady I keep seeing reflected in shop windows. No idea who SHE is.

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  19. Man, where at is the "like" button. I want to like all these comments.

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    1. Comments here are at least half the show.

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