April 11, 2008 by Judith Liebaert
Baby Boomers want everybody to believe they’re redefining middle age. Sixty is the new 50, 50 is the new 40, 40 is the new 30. Were not aging – we’re learning how to count backwards by 10’s . . . Dead, 80, 70, 60, 50.
Everybody knows the baby boom started after the big one. That’s what they called it – WWII – the Second World War. Yup, those GI’s came back from Europe in waves and they had one thing on their mind – giving their wives the big one. And they didn’t do it just once. Next thing you know there are babies everywhere. The average number of children in a family back then was twice what we have now – which is 2.5. How in the heck do you have a half a kid. Is it stuck – didn’t make it all the way out? I can count backwards by 10’s, but I’m lousy at figuring fractions.
Anyway, the baby boom started after WWII, but nobody is quite sure when it ended. The bureau of statistics puts the boom years between 1944 and 1965. Just beware of the pecking order. The sixty-somethings think us young punks are just posers – that makes me a wannabe boomer. Really, they get quite touchy about it. They say things like, “I’m 60, I’m a real boomer! Just don’t label me middle aged.”
Not middle aged? Do you know anybody that’s lived to 120? I’m going to be fifty this year. I don’t think I’ll be seeing 100. Forty five- now that seems like a nice middle aged number. But living to ninety? Forty. That’s a good solid bet – most of us should make it to eighty. So forty, the new thirty, is middle aged.
I started asking people “What do you hate most about reaching middle age?” Guess what? Nobody hates it. Yeah, they all love being middle aged. More sex, no children at home, more freedom, no children, more money, no children.
Who are they all trying to kid? More sex? More sex? I can’t even stay awake to see Leno anymore. When are all these old tortoises finding the time to screw like young bunnies? It sure isn’t in the morning. It takes me at least an hour just to straighten up and walk without shuffling. Trust me, the cereal in my bowl isn’t the only thing that snaps, crackles and pops at my breakfast table.
No kids? Unless you’ve sold the farm and moved to a homeless shelter, chances are good at least one of your kids is living with you – again. They just keep coming back, kind of like the energizer bunny in reverse. After my daughter graduated, she moved six states away – for about six months. One day she called and said to me, “Mommy, I just want to be a kid again and have my parents take care of me.” I was forty-three. I told her good luck on that, I wanted the same thing but her grandma and grandpa weren’t buying it.
More money? Not as long as you have a child that breaths life. “Gee mom, I can’t make my rent this month. My car needs repairs and I can’t get to work without it.” Or how about this one – it’s my favorite, but you have to imagine the waterworks. “My dog needs an operation and I don’t have any money. It’s not fair. He shouldn’t have to suffer because I’m poor.”
The $500 dog needs orthopedic surgery for a genetic hip defect. It’s not bad enough they paid $500 for a defective dog when they could have gotten a healthy mutt from the shelter for 20 bucks. They also had to pay for the pooch’s vet check, it’s shots, to have it’s dew claws removed – whatever the hell those are, and to have it’s pedigree registered.
Can’t afford the dog, can’t make the rent, can’t fix the car, buy new tires, fill the tank, or pay the phone company. But they have satellite TV, GPS, and cell phones that take pictures, play music and surf the internet. They have computers, digital cameras and ipods, ‘cause those features on the cell phones aren’t really serious.
My daugheters have pedicured toenails and bikini waxes 12 months out of the year. We live in Northern Wisconsin – who the hell sees your toes or your bikini line when it’s 20 below zero? They pay more for their underwear than I spend on food and shelter. I know, I know – they have to look good in case there’s an opportunity for some action. Give me a break. At their age if they’re not married or shacking up, they’re bar trolling. At two a.m. nobody gives a crap if your toes are painted and your who-ha is neatly groomed beneath your Victoria’s Secret, lace-trimmed, butt-floss. And you can sure as hell bet they aren’t going to remember the next morning.
So that leaves us happy-to-be-middle-aged boomers with more freedom. Freedom to do what? Live our dreams, like in those investment commercials? Travel to foreign lands, dive the deep oceans and climb the highest peaks? See the pyramids? Get real! We’re all still working our backsides off just to keep the medical benefits. We’re taking Celebrex for arthritis so that we can move without wincing in pain. We take Viagra so we can still get a little action and we take Zocor to keep our cholesterol down so we don’t have a heart attack when we do. Without insurance, the cost of staying forever young would kill us!
I’m fifty – that’s not forty. At forty, I didn’t need glasses to read. If I had needed glasses when I was forty, I would still have been able to remember where I put them when I took them off. I could remember a lot of things at forty – names, places, phone numbers and words. No special words, just those ordinary every day words that I now find have completely disappeared from my vocabulary when I want them and then pop up at two am in the morning.
At forty I didn’t fall asleep in my chair after supper. I didn’t have to ration my lovemaking to once a week because at $10 a pop for Viagra more than that would break the budget. Of course at forty I wouldn’t have given second thought to the $10 toll – I’d have given up something else – oh say, eating.
At forty it didn’t take me a full hour to put on my face and do my hair. Let’s be honest, when you’re young, a pony tail, a touch of lip gloss, a little mascara and you look like a million dollar babe. At 50, without the full works you look more like a baby pug – all wrinkles and whiskers.
Oh yeah – I have whiskers. I remember that first time I found a three inch long, jet black hair growing out of my chin. I was looking in one of those 10Xs magnifying mirrors at the drugstore. I was mortified. It had probably been there for years screaming “Old Broad” to anybody who can still see without glasses.
I thought everything would be okay, this middle age thing wouldn’t be so bad if I could just keep my sense of humor about it. In my middle age, I have found that while laughter may be the best medicine, it isn’t the best thing to do on a full bladder.
So let’s recap. I’m a baby boomer and for me and all my fellow boomers, this is not our parent’s middle age. We’re living longer, acting younger and staying in our big homes longer than they did, thanks to pharmaceuticals, adult diapers, and offspring who never leave the nest.