Editor’s Note: As we near what promises to be a monumental electoral thumping of the good guys (the Democrats) by the forces of regression and evil (the Republicans), I just don’t have the heart for another political article. It’s all just too depressing. So, having just attended my 45th high school reunion (yes, I really am that old), I’m going with something “lite” about the upside of getting older.


Some Things I Just Won’t Miss

 

 

In the “Lethal Weapon” movies, Danny Glover’s character laments, “I’m too old for this stuff” (scatological expletive redacted). As a detective, he worries about actions that could get him killed, but we baby boomers now use this phrase for activities that cause heartburn, backaches or a broken hip.

Much of what I’m too old for — all-you-can-eat Indian buffets, basketball and excessive drinking — involves things I wish I could still do, but can’t, or shouldn’t. However, at this point, I’d rather look at the upside of maturity: those things I’m glad I’ll probably never have to go through again.  

One such activity is dating. My memories of this are dim, but not fond ones: The “fix-ups,” where both parties try to come up with an illness they can plausibly fake. The clumsy “ask-out” calls to girls who wouldn’t have walked across a room to spit in your hair. And the even-clumsier rejections: “Sorry, I have a dentist appointment Saturday night” or “I’m Zoroastrian, and my parents don’t let me date outside the faith.”

The turndown was always a mixed blessing. “No thanks” meant another Friday night with your fellow geeks whining about the girls who wouldn’t have you, but “yes” meant suffering through the awkward silences, as well as the fumbling and groping that was meant to be suave and erotic, but was embarrassingly neither. It was like interviewing for a job you had no chance of getting.

Speaking of which, I’ll be grateful if I never have to sit through another job interview. Every human resource person asks a standard question: “What’s your biggest weakness?” Every book and website on the subject advises you to frame a positive as something that sounds faintly negative: “I’m too dedicated to my work” or “I suffer from perfectionism.” What helpful data can possibly be elicited from such a disingenuous dialogue?

I do regret missing out on the chance to reply, “My biggest weakness? Probably my crack addiction, which at least masks my laziness.” I also wish I had one more crack at, “Why do you want to work for us?” which I’ve always wanted to answer with, “Because it’s rumored you’re willing to pay me.”

Somewhere between job interviews and digital prostate exams in amusement value is applying for a mortgage. I hope I never again have to describe the minutiae of my finances to a supercilious banker who acts like the interest rate is a favor he’s doing just for me. Despite a credit rating that’s been described as “near perfect,” I always end up feeling like a skid row bum begging a dollar toward a pint of muscatel.

 

Another advantage of maturity is that most of my friends’ children have grown up, so I no longer have to hear how “gifted” they are. In the past, it was like living in Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon, “Where all the children are above average.” When was the last time you met a baby boomer mom or dad whose child wasn’t gifted, including those geniuses living in their parents’ basements at 30?

Of course, it’s mathematically impossible. Most of us cluster around the peak of the bell curve, which is average, and, as George Carlin pointed out, “By the definition of average, half must be even stupider than that.” It will be a pleasure not to listen to another “helicopter parent” explain how it’s no aspersion on the exceptionalism of her spawn (who’d always seemed just a tad dull-witted) that he’d finished his short college career with the same “zero-point-zero” GPA as John Belushi’s “Animal House” frat boy.

Of course, I’m starting to see pictures of the grandchildren now. So, tales of their advanced placement on the potty and then in nursery school can’t be far off.

Speaking of school, I’m relieved I’ll never have to sit through another class I have no interest in. Do even economics majors actually enjoy economics courses? I know that economists receive Nobel Prizes, but most financial doctrine is determined by your political affiliation, so how does this qualify as a science? Every four years, presidential nominees release economic manifestos, endorsed by armies of economists, that are simultaneously rejected by equally imposing arrays of economists from the other side.

Meanwhile, women’s studies classes teach that every difference between the sexes is an illusion produced by our patriarchal society, as is every problem any female has ever had: May I never have to read another feminist tract written by Andrea Dworkin or Mary Daly.

And I’m glad I’m now old enough to stop feeling guilty about all those things I’d put off because I thought I’d have time for them later on. I’ve given up on the idea of reading Marcel Proust’s “Remembrance of Things Past” in French (or in English for that matter), playing Jimi Hendrix’s guitar riffs from “All Along the Watchtower,” writing a readable novel or learning to use a socket wrench.

And, finally, on a trivial note, it’s nice not worrying about oily skin. Like many my age, I’m so dried out, I can skip washing my hair for a month before it gets greasy. Natural oils have gone the way of the pigments in my hair.

Of course, some of the things we’ve outgrown could be back sooner than we’d like. Diaper rash comes to mind, but I’ll let my future nurses worry about that one.


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