The middle years – it’s not all oleo and parties, you know.

Head’s up! It’s another holiday tonight — Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah, if you’re interested — so I won’t be around tomorrow (Thursday) either. But then we’re done for months and months! Whoot! … Um, I mean: 😦

Yet another advantage to the aging process. Though Mr. Malverne will have to wait a bit longer for most of us.

So I recently learned that Daily Mail has a fancy list telling you about how your body shrinks and withers as it ages. Big whup. Do you know how long it takes for that happen? You’ll spend years going “Am I in decline now? How about now? Is it now?”

That’s where your olds can come in handy – I am middle aged, and I know what it looks like. Hereunder, a useful checklist that you might want to clip and keep handy.

Sign #1 that you might be middle-aged: You still think in terms of “clipping”.

Sign #2You’re attracted to middle-aged people (and a little creeped out by the youngs). If you look at beautiful people in their early twenties and think “well, aren’t they silly and cute! Will they be leaving soon?” – but a cute, gray haired, wrinkly person at the school open house elicits a quickened pulse? You’re middle-aged. (Note: Exceptions made for Daniel Radcliffe, Ryan Gosling, and Karen Gillan).

Sign #3 Certain songs bring you back to a certain place and time — you just can’t remember why. Occasionally a song from the early 80s will brush against my ear I’ll be there, man, in an instant: BOOM! Transported back to an emotional state, filled with a kind of pleasant longing. And I’ll have no idea why. If this happens to you? You’re middle-aged.

Sign #4They keep changing the names of shit. Creme rinse, taco chips, oleo – alas, all have gone the way of the Apollo program. But your local bodega and/or online merchant should have no problem providing you with conditioner, tortilla chips and margarine. If you can remember to call them that.

Sign #5 –  You have living memories of life being actually-factually suckier. When I was a toddler, Captain Kirk kissed Uhura, and it raised a genuine, furious ruckus across the land – a mere handful of years earlier, inter-racial marriage had been illegal in most states. Women weren’t admitted to Harvard (having been relegated to Radcliffe) until I was in junior high. And after I graduated from college, a promising young President signed into law a requirement that gay men and women serving in the US military lie about themselves every day. Funny how the day seems a smidge bit brighter when I remember bullcrap like that.

Sign #6 The list of things that you will never, ever do gets longer. Singer in a rock n’ roll band? Not happening. Cartwheels? Ditto. Actually getting all those books read? Oh, you make me laugh, you scamp!

Sign #7On the other hand: The list of things you actually do do gets longer, too. Don’t get too excited – most of these are pretty dinky. Like: I actually make my bed most days now, and it only took until I was past 40. And I floss. Occasionally. But I also tell people off when they deserve it, and I no longer carry disagreements & general unpleasantry in my breastbone, and I have finally found a way to get regular exercise that I both enjoy and actually, you know, do. Which I’m told makes it work a whole lot better.

Sign #7, corollary – You keep getting bigger. Sometimes this is physical – which, you know, we all need to figure out how to deal with that in this particular stage of the patriarchy – but that’s not what I mean. My mother once told me that there is no “up” – as in “grown up” (“There’s no ‘up’ to arrive at,” she said at some point in her late 50s, when you would think that, if there were an up, she would have found it) – and she’s mostly right. It’s just that “up” keeps moving. As a person, I am bigger, broader, more UP, than I have ever been and it’s kind of awesome. Who am I kidding? It’s totally awesome. The Daily Mail may declare my body to be shrinking, and whole sections of society and the economic sector may think that I should quietly bob my hair and go away – but fuck them. Cause I’m bigger now, and I like it.

Sign #8: Pimples on top of wrinkles –  Cause nature’s a big ol’ juicebox.

Crossposted at Angry Black Lady Chronicles.



  1. Emily, totally wonderful! I’m trying to work in curlers to hot rollers to blow dryers and curling irons to braids and weaves, but I’m coiffure-challenged, long-straight and going gray.

    In NYC over the weekend, I saw something that really threw me back: cassette tape, an unwound shiny-brown tangle in the gutter. Haven’t seen that in years. Shocked me nearly as much as the first time I saw a precious CD glittering in the gutter.

    (Come my pagan holiday celebration, think I’ll deck the trees with garlands of cassette tape and CD’s just to be retro.)

    Have a happy happy one!

  2. Great post. It really annoys me when people talk fondly of the good old days. Good maybe if you were white, rich and male. But I don’t want to sound bitter…you are not. Your post is full of good-natured laughs. Thanks for a funny -and actually sweet- post.

  3. I love this post, it cheered me up with a real laugh on an otherwise problematical day.

    You might like my recent post on rugby. 🙂 Keep up the good work, Emily.

  4. Oh, good yontiff! (I think that’s right.) When I put yontiff into my iPhone, it corrected it to pontiff. Conspiracy, much? Frankly, I think the people should be told.

  5. lise

     /  October 20, 2011

    I don’t find Daniel Radcliffe or Ryan Gosling attractive. They are good-looking young men, but not “attractive” in the way that the grey-haired Buddist who’s name I can’t recall either because I’m middle-aged or because of the recent blow to my head…you know… in the way that guy’s attractive. Happy Shimcha Torah, my favorite Jewish holiday of all!

  6. dmf

     /  October 21, 2011

    for fridays and tender spots with and without wings