Image by Chad Madden on Unsplash.
A few years ago, a woman heard my standup comedy where I have lots of jokes about stereotypes of aging. A lot of them found their way into my book.
She said I should consider performing for people in assisted living. She hadn’t been listening when I said I’d rather be dead than go into assisted living.
I recall this conversation when someone sends me a private message: “Why aren’t you on Crows’ Feet [or some other platform associated with age]”.
(1) Why be identified by a physical characteristic that perpetuates a stereotype?
“I don’t feel like my face. I feel more like my butt. I literally work my ass off to get buns of steel. An orthopedic surgeon told me it’s a good way to avoid hip fractures. My butt says 30. My face says, ‘Never mind.'”
BTW, crow’s feet aren’t a marker of old age. They’re a marker of genes and sunscreen use. Quoted in Good Housekeeping
, board-certified dermatologist Dr. Sherwin Parikh says:
“Depending on genetic and environmental factors, one may notice crow’s feet as early as their 20s,”
(2) I often target younger people who struggle to deal with their parents, reject the stereotypes and plan their futures.
One of the most heartwarming stories came from a reader who said:
My mother always got annoyed when we teased her. We thought she was too sensitive. After reading your book, I understand now. We won’t tease her anymore.
A male millennial told me privately, “I am reading your book because I don’t want to be like my parents when I get older.”
My favorite was a reader who found me through Medium. I don’t know how old she is. She said:
“My husband saw me reading your book. He asked ‘So did you learn to be a bitch yet?’ I told him I already am.”
(3) Terms like “old fart,” “geezers,” or “wrinkles” are as offensive as derogatory terms associated with race, nationality, sexual orientation, or religion.
Of course, a lot of people who happily identify as geezers will reject my controversial positions.
In my book
, I say everyone over 75 should be issued a cyanide pill, to use as desired, with no restrictions.
I’m not concerned with relatives who will force you to take the pill. If they want you gone, they’ll make your life so miserable you’ll run to your Final Exit. Anyway, it’s usually the. family who wants to keep the medical procedures going, long after the dying person is ready to join a rousing chorus of “I’ll Fly Away
I’m only half-joking when I say that, at 75, you should also get a gift certificate for a Mafia hitman. For a small fee, your death gets listed as an accident. No survivor guilt: your family gets to say, “Just another shooting incident in South Philly.”
Don’t get me started on the concept of retirement
or the notion that “older” people should seek volunteer work so they can leave a legacy
I also write about sex toys and make snarky comments about the medical field (sometimes in the same article
The truth is, no one publication’s going to appeal to all people over 50, 60, 70, or…you name it.
Geriatricians famously say, “If you’ve seen one 80-year-old, you’ve seen one 80-year-old.”
One generalization holds: People get more diverse as they age.
Go into any gym and you’ll see people over 60 walking slowly in a gentle circle exercise. In another corner, you’ll see people the same age who are lifting weights and preparing to run a marathon. A lot more people are in between.
We’re diverse in what we consider appropriate topics and appropriate language. We can also expect diversity in writing about aging and in audiences who do the reading.