The five stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. The five stages of midlife are quite similar. Know them and be ready when they appear.
Stage one: Denial or “I’m still 38, aren’t I?”
Forgetting how old you are seems to be the first substantive sign you are no longer “young.”
My wife keeps asking me how old I am with this desperate tone in her voice because I am ten months her senior, and she knows that, shortly after I turn 40, she will follow.
Just the other day she asked me what year I was born and then proceeded to convince herself that she still has another two years before she hits the big 4-0 … which she certainly does not.
This phenomenon (you know, because lying is such a rare and amazing occurrence) of people not knowing their age is expected among the elderly.
Hell, it’s cute when little kids do it. But, when a 38- or 39-year-old turns simple addition and subtraction into a Euclidean riddle, it is downright pathetic.
Try it sometime.
Ask someone in their mid-40s how old they are and they’ll utter without hesitation.
Ask a 37-year-old the same question and watch them squirm like a Jeopardy contestant who staggered over from the Wheel of Fortune set.
It goes a little something like this:
“I thought I was still 38.”
“No, you were 38 last year.”
“Yeah, but grandpa was born in ’42, and moss grows on the north side of a tree, so I can’t be 39.”
“You are 39.
“What year were you born?”
“Stop changing the subject.”
“How old are you?”
“I said, ‘How old are you?’”
“Oh, I thought you asked, ‘How mold are you?’ I think I’m 37.”
This kind of denial is stupefying, and it belongs in the same ashcan as “I’m not fat, I’m full-figured” or “Jim’s not an asshole, he’s just sassy.”
Even better than the “I’m a grown person who can’t remember my age” folks are the ones who lie about their age, as if those crows feet and under-eye bags aren’t the reason we don’t believe you’re not 32. (Did I fit enough double negatives in there?)
Lie all you like, but your sassy, full-figured ass is eventually turning 40 … and no amount of pretending it ain’t so is going to stop it.
Unless you find a time machine.
If so, give me a call. I have some dates to revisit.
I’ll bring the guns and sandwiches.