Surviving the sixties

For my 60th birthday, my husband wanted to surprise me with some romantic bedroom action. I was all excited, so I trotted into the kitchen to check out my over-the-counter pharmacy.

I shot him flirty looks as I began. “Let’s see. Anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxants … that should do it. Give it a little time to work, and in one half hour let the spontaneity begin!”

Nobody wants to admit that they are more fragile than they used to be. In the old days if I fell on my butt, it would be an occasion for snorts of laughter. That was before my bone density scans showed that I was calcium challenged. Now when I fall, I freeze for a moment, take a full medical inventory, and (barring a splinter of pelvis jabbing out of my Levis) snort.

I live with two dogs who have been carefully studying football games for new and painful ways to show me their joy at seeing me when I come home. Lately, their favorite is the chop block. One gets behind my legs while the other jumps up against my chest. Unable to step back to brace myself, my only recourse is to yell, “Timber!” At times like these, I wish I had shoulder pads and a helmet.

Rather than call the 800 number to order a wrist band that will have somebody remotely monitoring my blood pressure while I poop (operators are standing by), I watch survival shows. You may wonder how watching “Survivor-Guy” or “Nude and Screwed” can prepare one for spending all day alone with ninja canines. Don’t make me come over there and smack you!

Survival shows are about using the materials at hand to (as the title would suggest) not die. I can now make a splint out of old National Geographic magazines and stale bread. In a pinch, I’ll just drag myself over to the pantry where I can live indefinitely off of dog kibble and cooking oil.

In the spirit of idiotic independence and misplaced pride, you won’t find me calling an ambulance when I’ve fallen and I can’t get up. I’m the moron who drove herself to the emergency room while in shock, with a shoulder broken in three places.

So with the help of reality TV I can easily take care of myself in an emergency. And on the odd chance that I break a hip while having sex, at least I will have loaded up on anti-inflammatories in advance.

Power to the old people

I read an article yesterday in the Huffington Post promoting senior empowerment. The writer argued that we torpedo ourselves by living up to senior stereotypes. She further claimed that self-deprecating senior humor causes our self-esteem to recede faster than our hairlines. Phhht!

Seriously, ageism is a crappy deal. A lot of seniors struggle against discrimination in the workplace – and I’m talking about the newly old. I’ve seen the system fail people that I love, but anger and righteous indignation (while frequently justified) polarizes us.

I just don’t think that schooling ourselves to be politically correct about aging is going to empower us. Trying to avoid stereotypes is like ignoring the elephant in the room. We’re all getting older, and it’s scary. I believe that fear is what really robs us of our power, and humor helps to combat the fear.

If you go to the “About Me” page on this blog, you’ll find my mission statement:

“As a humor writer, my goal is to use laughter to diffuse the anxiety of aging; challenge others to bring humor into their daily lives; and prove that there is joy and laughter to be found at every stage of life’s journey.”

When I’m going through shit, finding others who have been through it is very healing. When we relate to each other, we accept our human condition and find that we’re not so very different, regardless of our age.

I may exaggerate and look for the ridiculous in life, but my goal is always to embrace the underlying truth. Facing our fears takes away their power and gives it back to us.