Hands up, all of you who actually remember the time when you thought people over 60 were too old to live. That your picture of them teetering on their emaciated limbs, emitting old people smells and grunting at you seemed reasonable, kind even.
Give me a wave if you used to giggle at the people tilting their heads back and forth, trying on drugstore reading glasses, peering at themselves in the tiny mirrors as if the look of themselves actually mattered?
No? None of you? Come on. Not even a small snicker as you, clear eyed and springy of leg, swung by them to be sure you were ahead of them in the check-out line? If you aren’t Canadian, you might even have cut in line in front of them. Because it would take forever for those wrinklies to find the correct loyalty cards in bags and purses under crumpled kleenexes and nests of unsuitable reading glasses. You, young person, have places to go! Important place
Besides, eww. You might brush against them and have to engage them in conversation. Because they always TALK to you.
Ah, world, I apologize. I’m now in that category. You are going to have to deal with me.
My one bedroom apartment is spiderwebbed with at least ten pairs of reading glasses of varying strengths, their arms tangled and lenses scratched. I have magnifying glasses with lights attached to them. Glasses with swing-down lenses that enlarge everything to ridiculous size. Funky-looking glasses, in case someone I want to impress comes into my apartment. Completely flat glasses (which I put down and can never find again).
This does in no way guarantee I will be able to find a pair when I need them. Instead, I will stumble about, squinting at bottles, tilting them into the light, pretending I can read the label. Until I was 40, I had the eyesight of an eagle and could read tiny type in utter darkness. Now, I need lights of over 1000 watts and still can’t squint adequately.
I’ve finally wasted myself away to near goal weight, only to discover that my skin hasn’t got the memo. My supple and sweetly pink flesh, the one thing my mother praised, has changed into a crispy leathery substance.
(‘You have such lovely skin,” she used to say, as I graduated from my Masters program, birthed babies, ruled the world. When I was at my fattest, she’d add,, “But you can still move.” as if I weighed 700 lbs and my legs wouldn’t rub past each other. I wasn’t, even with all the kids draped off my neck, and they could.)
I…SHED…! Hair and skin cells and other excretions exit my body, screaming in triumph as they flee the sinking ship. I accuse my cat of leaving fur everywhere, but when I vacuum I see lots of grey hairs. My cat is brown.
I have developed WATTLES! This seems distinctly and horrendously unfair, especially since the ever present hot flashes mean that wearing anything around my neck is pure torture. We will cast a shade over my abdominal sagging. Suffice to say no one is seeing my stomach ever ever again.
I dress in layers now, at any moment ready to strip off my coverings as my inner temperature shifts from ice shiver to volcanic simmer. You may want to sit over there, because when I am radiating lava I am likely to throw my sweater, scarf, shirt and potentially even underthings with extreme violence.
Do NOT gather them up. Any attempt at this will result in scathing mutterings while I dig, looking for that perfect layer. If you are in the way, I am not above throwing you against the wall. I am scary strong at those moments. Lead me to your Lincoln Continental lying over a baby–I shall lift it with one heft. Just throw a scarf under it.
So here I am, enduring this long game, which I admit is better than the alternative. I find myself disappointed. I thought that, by this time, I’d have left my bad self behind. Enwrapped my seven-deadly-sinning body in a scarf of wisdom.
Hasn’t happened. I’ve pretty well given up on lust and wrath (altogether too exhausting.) And it is hard to feel pride when raising my nose above others’ exposes my … wattles.
However, Sloth and I are extremely close.
Envy still colours my world a sickening green. And I’ve lost the battle with respe
ct to greed. I have 1000000 skeins of embroidery floss and probably 500 books. It’s fecking ridiculous. My ‘long game’ will be well over by the time I take my last stitch.
And as for gluttony…
My gift to myself for my birthday is that favourite forbidden slice of chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream icing. I mentioned this last year and lovely family and friends brought me lashings of same. This year I am diabetic (no surprise there), so fortunately no one offered. But…the hankering remains.
There’s half a cake in my fridge left today. Half. (Well, almost, there was that breakfast slice) (or two)
Seems to me I still have some growing up to do.