Saturday, February 12, 2011

Age-Appropriate Me

A while back I bought a package of five yoga classes on sale through a local “Fun Savers” deal, a program which sends me regular e-mails about offerings from local businesses at rather steep discounts: dinner for two at half price, a haircut and highlights for twenty-five bucks; something called a limoncello body scrub, which apparently exfoliates and gets you a little high at the same time. So the yoga classes (five for $25) were a good deal. It’s what’s called Power Yoga, which sessions last an hour and half and are conducted in a room that’s kept at over 90 degrees F.

Now, since I long ago achieved middle age (unless I’m going to live to be 124 years old) this was a bit of a stretch. I’m not someone who goes to the gym regularly, although I’m not in bad shape and I’ve always been very lucky that I don’t have to be overly concerned with what I eat. So I’ve been very gratified that I’ve always made it through to the end of these Power Yoga sessions, even though I usually feel like giving up halfway through. The nice thing about it, too, is that the classes comprise men and women of all ages and all fitness levels, although the women tend to be younger and, as young women are, more “bendy” than most of the men.

I wore loose workout clothes to my first class, as recommended. Everyone else was similarly attired, including an “older” gentleman, (probably my age), who was rather skinny and pale and had the look of someone who eats extremely healthy food and meditates and enjoys some good weed once in a while. Problem was, he was wearing a very loose athletic T-shirt and very, very short shorts: they might have been his old gym shorts from high school. In the course of the workout those around him were treated, I’m sure, to more than they cared to see.

I felt immediately superior knowing that I’d never dream of showing up for yoga class in such a skimpy little outfit. I can be comfortable and appropriate, I thought to myself. I know who I am. I rock!

But a few days later I found myself in Macy’s, browsing the young men’s department, in particular the skinny jeans, wondering if I’d be able to get away with them on casual Fridays. Fortunately, it wasn’t long before the entity I call “Sane Fred” showed up, tapped me on the shoulder and wagged a finger at me: “Who the hell do you think you are?” Sane Fred asked, “Justin Bieber? You shouldn’t be considering skinny jeans, even if they weren’t, like, $75 a pair! Put them down and step away... step away from the skinny jeans!”

Thank you, Sane Fred. I bought some socks instead.

Like many of my generation I don’t feel my age. In fact, I don’t imagine most people, when they attain a certain point in life, think of themselves as 52 or 61 or 75. Somewhere inside we’re always hovering around 24 or 25 and continue to believe our whole lives are before us, that what we’re going through now is just a little detour and pretty soon we’ll be back on the high road to success and fulfillment in a career we love... except that the detours are my life. I just spent ten minutes trying to find a wonderful quote I once read to that effect – that you can’t spend your life waiting for your life to begin: it’s already begun and you’re missing it! I didn’t find the quote, but Google turned up a number of results that included the words “get my life back”. Well, I’ve got news for everyone who wants their life back: you’ve got it. You may not like it, but it’s your life and you’ve got it. To quote one housewife blogger out there: “God is in the detours”.

My parents at Camp Edwards,
Cape Cod, circa 1946
And I continue to struggle, to a greater or lesser degree, with the idea of what’s “appropriate” for someone my age. I daresay, we baby boomers have taken somewhat better care of ourselves than our parents, that we exercise more and eat “right”, use moisturizer and take more supplements, etc. (Of course, a lifetime of unfiltered Camels, a daily Manhattan or two, and a diet rich in butter, salt and Tasty Kakes didn’t do my father much harm: he died at the age of 92 of, basically, old age. Likewise my mother at 96. So I guess I have good genes to thank, too.)

Over time I have learned, to my credit, that the Calvin Klein low-cut, hip-riding briefs will not make me look like the model on the box. Nor will wearing the latest Polo fragrance transform me into a 22 year-old blond Adonis who looks really hot in jodhpurs and riding boots. And I can work out and Power Yoga myself to death, but I can only turn the proverbial clock back so far. Even the Power90 workout advertised on TV at 2 in the a.m. runs the disclaimer that, even if you manage to get through the grueling workouts and diet regimen, the results achieved by those ripped people on the tube are “not typical”. (And I ask you: do some of those people look kind of odd, now that they’ve powered themselves into shape? Their heads look too big for their bodies, which look weirdly and unnaturally fat-free.)

But: should I give up on the idea of going back to school for a degree in Arts Administration just because I’m not longer a frat boy? (Okay, I was never a frat boy.) Certainly not. Especially if my employer offers tuition reimbursement and I can do the whole thing online for free! How cool, as the kids say, is that?

So age is a state of mind and you’re only as young as you feel, blah, blah. And while I have no problem going to a good diner for the early bird special, I still don’t want to be known as a “seasoned citizen” or a "spry oldster" who’s “75 years young!” It's a fine line to walk, but as long as I have a good attitude, a little perspective and “Sane Fred” to steer me gently away from the hot pink high-top sneakers, I think I’ll be okay.

Thanks for the genes, Mom and Dad!


  1. How ironic. Today I just finished a BDay essay on "" because I turn 44 tomorrow. Sadly, my essay isn't nearly as polished as yours. Mine was a bit more of a reflection on my life. I really enjoyed this essay. Thanks for writing. Keep it up!! I'm a fan! Yours, Bratprince

  2. Also, congrats....609 visitors! Looks like it is starting to pick up! You know I will keep on promoting you. You are such a great writer. I hope all the Bratprince fans latch on to you!

  3. Happy Birthday, Will, and here's to many happy returns!