Aging: an insider’s report

Pam
Pam Frampton
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As you read this, I am hurtling towards middle age — a milestone I will reach next week, provided I live to be 90. I don’t mind it, really. I tend to believe the old saying about youth being wasted on the young.

In fact, I like this better than 25. I am happy, I’m working on getting fit and I have more energy than I ever did.

If — as Forrest Gump so sagely noted — “Life is like a box of chocolates,” then mine are Pot of Gold and I get the Brazil nut every time.

But as 45 looms, I have to be completely honest — and that’s one of the perks of being mature: you can say what you think and damn the consequences.

Oh wait, you have to be 85 to do that, not 45.

Never mind.

What I was going to say was that things happen to you when you get older, things you’d think older siblings or friends would prepare you for.

They don’t. Perhaps because they believe you should have to learn these life lessons yourself, just as they had to.

The women at work with the mini-fans on their desks are probably laughing at you behind your back: Your time is coming, fool!

But one of the things I have learned at this ripe age — aside from how much I have yet to learn — is that it is kind to impart your wisdom to others who are younger, so they might prepare themselves for their own journey through time.

Here are some of the things I’ve learned so far:

I hate to bladder on …

What’s up with our bladders? They tend to weaken as we age and I have witnessed the devastating effects — a friend who laughed too hard and left a slight damp spot on the couch. Another who can no longer jump rope because she worries about leakage.

I’ve had complaints from readers who don’t want to read anything too funny. They just don’t trust their bladders.

“Just between us — I cried with laughter … literally,” a reader once wrote in response to my column. “And I may have peed a little. …”

There’s no magic bullet for this one, except perhaps to avoid laughter and skipping ropes.

You’re so vein(y)

As you get older, you will sprout more veins. I’m not sure why. I have a few delicate purple ones stretching up from my left ankle in a pattern that looks like rivers as viewed from a plane.

Some of your other veins may inexplicably bulge at odd moments, like the one Danny Williams has in his temple that pulses when he’s mad.

You might develop stretch marks, which I always thought was an incredibly cruel side-effect of losing weight. You work like a dog and count calories and slowly sweat off the pounds, and your reward? Slithering shiny white stretch marks. Gee, thanks.

Hair today, more tomorrow

Unlike many men, who seem to fall prey to thinning and receding hair as they age, women tend to get more of it, and in places they would rather it didn’t appear. Like men, women can have errant eyebrows, rogue nose hairs, leg stubble seemingly nurtured by Miracle-Gro and stray dark hairs on your face that make you feel like Fred Flintstone.

“It’s sad to grow old, but nice to ripen.” — Brigitte Bardot

This might be a good time to consider making a Sunny von Bülow pact with a trusted friend. I did this years ago.

Sunny von Bülow, you might recall, was the wealthy socialite who fell into a coma in 1980 and stayed that way until she died at age 76 in 2008.

Her husband, Claus von Bülow, was at first found guilty but was later acquitted in her death. The story was the subject of the 1990 film “Reversal of Fortune.”

Now, if you’re like me and can’t afford to pay someone to come in and do your hair and makeup twice a week when you’re in a coma, as Sunny did, you need a backup plan.

My backup plan is named Heather and she has promised to do these “housekeeping” tasks for me and others, should I end up comatose — tweezing stray hairs, making sure the shade of my rouge is changed to match my ghostly pallor or ensuring my cologne is not too cheery for the circumstances.

I would to do the same for her. That’s what friends are for.

Miscellaneous maladies

There are other little things you will notice as you age.

Your hearing may start to go a little. You may become, as my friend Craig swears he is, “deaf as a haddock.”

People will no longer call you “The little girl from The Telegram,” as John Crosbie once did, but “ma’am” or so-and-so’s stepmom. (Don’t call me ma’am.)

Dying your hair is a necessity, not an option, although my hairdresser is still kind enough to refer to the process as “getting highlights.”

Your laugh lines have become crow’s feet and you may develop a neck like a turkey wattle (like some weird reverse evolutionary thing that turns us into birds.)

But think of all the good things.

No more getting asked for ID.

Far fewer pimples.

Best of all, no more peer pressure, though you might have to worry about your blood pressure. …

Seriously, age does not define you — attitude does.

As Henry Ford once noted, “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at 20 or 80.”

There’s plenty I still hope to learn.

Pam Frampton is The Telegram’s  story

editor. She can be reached by e-mail at pframpton@thetelegram.com.

Geographic location: Brazil

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Recent comments

  • Mike M
    August 10, 2010 - 23:46

    I bumped into a picture of an old friend accidently on the Internet which through a bunch of Google-fumbling brought me to this article. Rather eerie because the fellow I noticed in the picture was 25 in the image burned in my memory. He’s now late 40s, aged a bit, earing tiny spectacles like my Grandpa when he was a middle aged man. I'm going to disagree that one has more energy at 45. I'll agree that life is more fun as you get older and wiser. I enjoyed the article. Mike