The insensitive (but admittedly hard to refute) stereotypes of senior citizens’ irritatingly slow and dangerously inattentive driving habits have tainted our perceptions of growing old — we assume that we’ll gradually start losing touch with the world after sixty. But, in between fits of road rage, have you ever considered that this might not be a bad thing?
And when you take into account the absurdity of our daily-nurtured obsessions with sex-appeal and flawless appearance, don’t you wonder if our fears of getting a little wrinkly aren’t blown a wee bit out of proportion? A friend once told me she will avoid turning thirty at any cost, even if it means jumping off a building on the eve of her birthday. I think that’s bordering on irrational.
I think being old is actually going to be really great. Think about all the special privileges we unknowingly grant old people:
- Enhanced freedom of speech. When you’re old, there is nothing you can say that will not evoke admiration, inspiration,\ or kind-hearted pity. Think about this. How many times have you seen old men call attractive young women gorgeous, or beautiful or pretty? Countless times. And what is everyone’s reaction to their blatant flirtation? Laughing, and “aww”-ing and sentiments about how much of a sweetheart Grandpa is. How do people react when grumpy old men let loose the S-word in the grocery store? They ask if they need help with anything at all; at worst they give a dismissive shrug. Not only do you have permission to be offensive when you’re old, but anything you say that’s not offensive is automatically attributed with unquestioned wisdom. Stories and advice go through no testing for integrity whatsoever before being cherished and passed on — they’re just mysteriously true.
- Freedom to look like whatever you want. You can only fight the signs of aging for so long. I imagine all women will eventually wake up one morning and realize that they have run out of room on their face to keep adding make up, and that they look just fine anyhow, and that they might as well throw out the whole kit and caboodle. Similarly, men will all wake up to find that they can’t work out because their backs are thrown out, and that the style of V-necks and skinny jeans is bested by the comfort and dignified serviceability of a pair of suspenders and an oversized shirt. There is nothing held against you for a total rejection of fashion.
- Enough relaxation time to actually stop needing to relax. We don’t understand the luxuries of being old only because we can’t afford the time to enjoy them ourselves. What would you do today if you used your precious small amount of free time for a much-needed nap between classes and woke up feeling refreshed, only to find that it was the same minute you laid down, and someone had done all your homework for you, and you still had time to spare? Couldn’t you then understand the appeal of sitting on park benches for extended periods of time and tossing seed to pigeons and squirrels? The overwhelming impression of freedom this stirs in me is only fortified by the prospect of getting to wear diapers again. If you have no appointments and your bathroom is ever-present, the world is your oyster.
Then there are smaller perks, like the privilege of napping wherever you like and smelling however you like, and I’m sure there are many others, but we won’t know what they are for another forty years. The point is, don’t fear the future! It only gets better from here on out.