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Posts Tagged ‘aging’

Things I Never Thought I’d Do

Sunday, February 17th, 2013

Been reflecting on aging recently, looking at my adult life through the eyes of my younger self. I remember studying my parents and thinking, “I’ll never do that.” Or “Are they CRAZY?” Seems as if I’ve turned out just as crazy as my parents. Here’s a list of things I never thought I’d do when I grew up.

Number One: Say things like “I don’t understand these kids today.” In my defense, what the eff is up with young dudes showing their underwear? The cool kids shuffle along with almost the entire length of their boxers hanging out with their belt around mid-thigh and the crotch of their pants at their calves. I saw a teenager the other day with the outline of his junk clearly visible through his underwear. Vile. When I was a kid, if you dared to show even a micro-inch of underwear, someone would grab it and pull it up to the middle of your back and give you an epic wedgie. I think wedgies ought to make a comeback.

Number Two: Put ludicrous amounts of pepper on my food. This one sticks out in my mind more than any on the list. I used to watch my father in horrified shock as he used the pepper grinder to turn his food black. He didn’t just use a little pepper, he made his food look like volcano eruption fallout. Dad’s forearms were massive from all his pepper grinding. I think it was how he got most of his exercise. I have not yet reached his blackout phase of pepper application, but I’m getting close. I think I blacken my food with pepper because my taste buds are burning out and I can’t taste as much as I did when I was a kid. Either that or my latent pepper deficiency gene got activated.

Number Three: The contents of my bedside drawer would become the same as my father’s. Tums, reading glasses, Kleenex and back scratchers. Horrifying. Dad’s bedside table contents always disgusted me. Why would you need peppermint candy that was chalky and horrible-tasting? How many pairs of glasses does one person need? Adults blow their noses so much, they actually need a whole box of Kleenex by their bedsides? And what’s with all the backscratchers? Are adults really this blind, sneezy and itchy? Do they have no taste? Answers? Yes, yes, yes and yes. I’m glad I didn’t know then what I know now or I’m not sure I would have allowed myself to grow up.

Number Four: Refuse to acknowledge the limitations of my eyesight. I am now one of those idiots in denial you see in grocery stores with their arms extended as far as they can, squinting at the fine printing on the soup cans to make sure they don’t contain monosodium glutamate. I’ve been practicing balancing cans on my feet at home so I’ll be better prepared for the inevitable. So. Humiliating. Why can’t I remember to carry glasses with me? Because I think I’m mounting a subconscious aging protest. Like if I don’t carry glasses, it means I can see and am still young. It’s also because I hate carrying crap around with me. I already have to carry Kleenex and Tums and ibuprofen with me everywhere. Pretty soon, I’ll have to drag around freakin’ carry-on luggage just to hold my Old Lady emergency supplies. Ugh!

Number Five: Talk about getting older. There is nothing that makes you older than talking about getting older. Which is what all my friends and I seem to talk about these days. Well, that is when we can hear each other. Rock-n-roll was not kind to my generation’s hearing. I’m getting good at smiling and nodding.

Number Six: Be convinced by current events that the world is coming to an end. My grandmother was convinced that the fabric of society was disintegrating. I thought she was insane. But with global warming and the global warming deniers; our failing healthcare system; our failing safety net; our failing education system—and the news being controlled by the same corporations that are screwing us out of all of our money, polluting the planet and exploiting the workforce—I’m starting to understand my grandmother’s mentality. My bunker should be complete by next year.

Number Seven: Be startled by my reflection. Or recent photos. Who the hell is that old lady? Wow, my face is starting to look like the Death Star, all deep dark channels. And what the HELL is up with the flippin’ jowls? And when did my neck start looking like that? (Insert scream here.) The only thing that’s saving me from total shock is that my eyesight is gratefully fading. If I stand far enough back from the mirror, I look like Doris Day in her later films, all fuzzed out and pretty.

Number Eight: Wear clothes for comfort, rather than fashion. A slippery slope, let me tell you.

Number Nine: Use an old lady cart to get groceries. This is the most humiliating out of all of the above. I feel a thousand years old dragging the damn thing over to Safeway. I feel like I should heap on the Depends, antacids and laxatives, and shuffle back home. I feel like I’m using a walker. Ever since this summer when I had seizures in the emergency room—and the DMV suspended my driver’s license—I have no choice but to use the horrid cart if I want food. Yes, I know I should be thankful I can still walk and I’m alive and all that garbage, but I hate crossing six lanes of traffic on El Camino looking like a crazy old lady when I’m only fifty-bloody-three.

I have decided to stop aging altogether. Next time I emerge from my bunker, I’ll let you know how my refusal to get older is working.

©2013, Janet Periat

When I Grow Up, I Want To Be An Adult

Saturday, January 1st, 2011

The new American zeitgeist is all about being a child. We want services, but we don’t want to pay for them. We want others to take care of us, but we don’t want to care for anybody. Accountability is out. Most people don’t want to work. People want to be famous for doing nothing, look young forever, wear the latest fashions, drive the latest cars, go on fabulous vacations, have trophy houses and amazing jobs where they get paid to do nothing. The biggest dream of all? Winning the lottery and spending the rest of their lives on a beach. Basically, everyone’s greatest desire is to be a spoiled brat.

When I was a kid, I couldn’t wait to grow up. My parents had cool cocktail parties and everything was about being fifty because that was the power age. Now it’s old age. No one wants to be fifty. No one wants to be an adult. The ideal age in our current culture is twenty-four. If you are any of the other seventy-nine ages of your life, you are flawed. Taking on responsibility is selling out. Being a child for life is the goal.

I reject this paradigm. I want to be more of a grown up. I want to rise to challenges, ride the waves of life and take care of myself. I want to pay my bills, live within my means, fix my house and do all the adult things required of me without complaint. I want to feel grateful for what I have, not upset with what I don’t. And I want to accept my changing features gracefully.

Yet as I look for role models in society to help me on my quest for true adulthood, I find none. All I see around me is a mass of spoiled children crying because life is happening to them. Oh, poor me, I had a birthday. Oh, poor me, I had to go to work today. Oh, poor me, I’m underwater on my mortgage. Oh, poor me, I have a crappy job because when I had the opportunity to go to college, I turned it down. Oh, poor me, I quit high school and now I can’t even get a job. Oh, poor me, I want a new plasma TV, but I had to get tires instead. Oh, poor me, I have to take care of my children.

Certainly, things are changing rapidly. Certainly, living on this planet is difficult work. Certainly for baby boomers—even if you followed all the rules and did everything you were told to do—you’ve still lost your retirement and your job. Granted, it sucks. But so what? Living on this planet has always been difficult. It was much harder for our forefathers and mothers. They didn’t have washing machines. Or unemployment. Or Social Security or Medicare. But what they did have was a work ethic and an acute sense of survival. They concentrated on planting seeds today for fruition tomorrow. They spent within their means. They learned to reinvent themselves no matter what was thrown at them.

My great-grandmother, Josephine Periat, left her abusive husband in Switzerland and came to America through Ellis Island when she was 26. With my six-year-old grandfather in tow, Grandma took a ship around Cape Horn to San Francisco, got a job as a cook for a rich couple, saved money, bought a bakery, started an auto body shop, started a car dealership, grew most of her own food, embroidered a million chairs, cooked Thanksgiving dinner until she was 80 and never complained. Most people I know bitch about every single thing they’ve ever had to do.

What Grandma knew was this: life is about uncertainty. Life is about challenges. Life is about hard work. There are no guarantees and the only thing you can count on is change. Your only job is to feed, clothe and house yourself until you die. And you don’t expect others to do it for you.

But somehow we’ve lost touch with these basic principles of survival. 75% of young people today are unfit for military duty because they either didn’t graduate from high school or they’re obese or have criminal records. Only 25% of Americans have a college degree. What the HELL ARE THESE PEOPLE THINKING? What do they think their futures will hold? Unless they attend a trade school, they are SCREWED. Yet kids are dropping out by the hundreds of thousands. They don’t want to go to school and they don’t want to work, but they want to be rich and famous and drive fancy cars. HUH? How did these kids get so delusional?

Our collective dream says it all: being famous for doing nothing and living on a beach being waited on hand and foot. This dream is the perfect model of infancy. You sit in your high chair and Mommy coos over you and takes complete care of you. Babies for life. Ick.

What I want to know is how did we get this out of touch? Over the last forty years, adulthood has become equated with loss of freedom and therefore, loss of joy. When the exact opposite is true. Children are not free. They are dependent. The only people with power over themselves and their environments are self-sufficient adults. The only way for an adult to be happy is to be an adult.

Yet our youth-obsessed culture ignores this simple fact. “Adultolescence” now extends to most people under thirty. A third of all 30-year-old single men are still living with their parents. One third. My folks and ancestors owned homes and businesses and had most of their kids by that age. Not only did they care for themselves, they cared for others.

If our current trend continues, the future of America looks like this: a giant playpen full of crying babies with nuclear capabilities and no adult supervision.

©2011, Janet Periat

Wisdom At Fifty

Friday, October 2nd, 2009

I recently celebrated my half-century birthday. I have learned much in my time here. I’m starting to forget most of it, so I’m going to write down the salient points for future reference.

Number One: When you turn fifty, you don’t have to dress like your mother. My mom always dressed cool, but ultra feminine. And very adult. So do all my girlfriends. I dress like a teenage boy. I had this idea in the back of my mind that someday I would wake up and be a grown up and suddenly understand the need for high heels and dresses and scarves. You know, like, at fifty. Now that I’m fifty I’ve come to a realization: I will always dress like a nineteen-year-old boy. At ninety-five, I’m gonna look like the Mummy in jeans and a t-shirt. Which is actually fine because of Number Two.

Number Two: No one cares what old people do. Basically, you go from being “the” age in all TV dramas, the center of the universe of fashion, on the forefront of new trends, straight into the vast wasteland of The Great Ignored. Your age group is no longer represented on TV, except in embarrassing denture commercials. No one asks you what you’re doing anymore because they assume you’re not doing anything new or different or interesting. Which means you can finally get away with whatever you want. I rented a bounce house for my adults-only fiftieth birthday and had a blast jumping in the stupid thing. I kept expecting the Age Police to show up and ticket me. But no one gave a damn. I’m thinking of pushing this whole Ignoring of the Old People phenomenon and starting a life of crime.

Number Three: Sex is as good at fifty as it was at twenty. Even better because I’m not as self-conscious, nor am I worried about unintended consequences. Like children. The only difference is I’m not into all that freakin’ Cirque Du Soleil stuff because I’m as flexible as a two by four with as much stamina as an emphysema patient on oxygen. Which brings me to Number Four.

Number Four: Aging hurts. You can still do much of what you did in your youth, you’re just gonna pay a price for it. Sure you can have sex all night or jump in a bounce house. You’ll just be in traction for the following week. Getting out of bed requires not only more effort, but a large grunt, too. There is a direct relationship between age and the amount of noise you make when getting up. I used to think my parents were having brain aneurysms every time they got out of a chair. Now I get it. If you sit too long, everything solidifies. Kind of like pre-rigor mortis. I think my body assumes that since I’ve sat for so long, I’ve actually died. So it stiffens up like a corpse and gets ready for embalming. All that pain is from my body reanimating as I force it to move. Kind of like Frankenstein being shocked into life. My mom says it gets worse and this is the only thing she’s ever told me that’s turned out to be true.

Number Five: Your parents were wrong about almost everything. Problem with parents is that they give you advice from their parents, who got it from their parents and pretty soon, the advice sounds like it came from the Pilgrims just getting off the Mayflower. In every generation, all the rules change, yet parents’ advice stays the same. Get a good job. Stay there forever. Pay them with your loyalty and they’ll pay you with theirs. Banks are the safest place to put your money. Mom told me the other day, “Don’t worry about planning for your future, it will all work out by itself. That’s what we did.” Riiiggghhht. My parents’ generation lucked out. They bought their homes for a dime and sold them for a million. They got GI loans, health insurance, pensions and could support a family of six on one salary. They got Social Security. Basically, their generation spent all the money and left nothing for us. Of course, if they told us the truth, we wouldn’t be helping them pay for that nice cushy retirement home.

Number Six: As they age, most men turn into Dick Cheney. Remember how cute Richard Dreyfus was? What about that hot guy in high school? What the hell happened to these guys? They all got fat, bald and whiter. They all morphed into the same man. They started off as adorable men, then they went through the Dick-Cheney-Izer. They lost their hair, acquired a paunch, started wearing glasses, dressed in old man clothes and now resemble human maggots. Their wives look twenty years younger even if they’re the same age. The weird thing is, the guys still think they’re hot. Frightening.

Number Seven: If it tastes good or makes you feel good, it’s bad for you. Beer, chocolate, caffeine, doughnuts, hamburgers, French fries, cigarettes, butter, salt and Pringles. That was my breakfast. The doctor keeps telling me it’s all gonna kill me, but since I’m old now and no one cares what I do, I figure to hell with it. Which brings me to Number Eight.

Number Eight: When you get older, you realize that no one knows anything. Especially doctors. Three years ago, my doctor told me I should be on Hormone Replacement Therapy because it would help prevent certain illnesses. A year ago, she told me I shouldn’t because HRT causes more illnesses than it was supposed to cure. I could name five hundred other things my doctor was wrong about. So now I don’t listen to her. Or anyone else for that matter. Of course, that could be my hearing.

Stay tuned, I have much more wisdom to impart—if I could only remember it.

©2009, Janet Periat

Aging Ungracefully

Thursday, May 7th, 2009

With the advent of the aging population, more and more people are finding themselves caring for elderly parents. Anyone in this situation knows it’s an uphill battle to get the oldsters to admit their limitations. And once they let us help them, they never leave us alone. Here are some solutions that should help us all with this growing problem.

Problem: Lonely, retired parents who inundate their busy, working children with phone calls.

Solution Number One: My new invention, the Answer-O-Matic™. This amazing phone system fools parents into thinking they are actually talking to their kids, when in fact, they are talking to a pre-recording! All the child does is simply record some questions into the Answer-O-Matic. For Dad: Dad, tell me that story about when you were in the Army or I’ve forgotten how to use a saw, could you outline the basics? For Mom: Mom, could you give me a recap on the last three Dr. Phil shows? Or the question that’s always good for an hour-long monologue: how’s your health?

Then the user simply records a few basic prompts in the Answer-O-Matic such as: Uh-huh. Really? Wow, things sure used to be better in the old days. I had no idea. I’m sorry, the cat was meowing, could you repeat that last part? Tell me again about that colonoscopy.

When the Answer-O-Matic runs through its entire program, it simply ends the call with: Oh, there’s my other line. It’s probably my boss. I’ll call you back later. Love you! Bye!

Solution Number Two: Outsourcing your parents’ calls to India. This is trickier and requires some pre-planning. Here’s how it works: When you next visit your parents or talk to them on the phone, start using a slight Indian lilt to your voice. Address them as “Mrs. Jane Doe” (it’s important to use their full name). Such as, “I am very happy to be speaking with you today, Mrs. Jane Doe.” Accustom them to oblique questions such as: “How are you my most honored father?” “Tell me about your Army days, please, sir.” Tell your parents you prefer to be called by your new nickname. Try Sanjeet or Raj. This will aid your overseas workers in being able to imitate you more accurately. Supply your new workers with your parents favorite topics, their favorite stories. Include some basic information about yourself, your approximate age, the names of your children and their approximate ages. It is not necessary to supply your workers with extensive personal information since most parents are calling to talk about themselves.

By using my Answer-O-Matic or outsourcing calls, soon your parents will be convinced they have the most devoted children on the planet! Their loneliness will vanish and so will your headache! A win-win situation for all!

Problem: Vain, mobility-challenged parents who refuse to use a walker.

Solution: My new inventions, the Floor Lamp Walker™ and the Coffee Table Walker™. My new devices disguise walkers as ordinary pieces of furniture. This way the elder will appear to be leaning on a piece of furniture, rather than relying on the dreaded walker. For trips outdoors, the elder can use the Trash Can Walker™ or the Mailbox Walker™. This way the old folks can send this message to the outside world: Hey, I’m not old, I’m just takin’ out the trash. Or: I’m not disabled, I’m just mailing a letter.

Just think how easy it will be to sell your parents on the Trash Can Walker when you can assure them that no one will be able to determine their age nor their physical condition. “Hey, Mom, everyone will go, what’s that twenty-year-old doing? Oh, they’re just taking out the trash!” An added feature: The Trash Can Walker also serves as a handy storage device for doing local neighborhood shopping. The Mail Box Walker also has plenty of storage, perfect for transporting Mom’s favorite Pekinese.

Problem: Sight-challenged parents who insist upon driving.

Solution: My new product, the Sim-U-Drive™. This handy device is an actual junked car that has been turned into a virtual reality driving experience. Simply replace your parents’ car with the Sim-U-Drive. When Dad goes out in the morning to wreak havoc on the local neighborhood, he gets in the Sim-U-Drive and starts up “the engine”. Instead of a windshield, Dad has no idea he’s looking at a plasma screen TV! Embedded motors provide simulated driving motion and vibrations. Speakers mounted around the driver’s head provide background traffic noise. The plasma screen displays his normal routes to the store or coffee shop and back. The Sim-U-Drive will fool any sight-challenged parent into believing they just drove to the store and back again! With no harm to either themselves or the local community! No lawsuits! No damage to the car! No road kill!

Problem: Hearing-challenged parents who refuse to wear a hearing aid.

Solution: My new invention, the iHear™. Disguised as an iPod, the iHear looks just like the latest hip music device but in actuality, it is a hearing aid! Tell your parents everyone will be mistaking them for teeny-boppers when they groove to this trendy beat.

If they aren’t keen on the iPod disguise, then try my other hearing product the Cell-U-Ear™. This hearing aid is disguised as a wireless cellphone headset. Tell your folks everyone will think they are important corporate executives when they proudly wear this new device around the shopping mall. It will also cover up the tendency old folks have to talk loudly to themselves, everyone will just think they’re having an important conversation with someone on the end of the line!

Tell your folks that by using one of these devices, not only will they appear years younger, they will be able to keep up the illusion of youth by actually hearing what is being spoken around them. Tell them that no longer will they have conversations like this: Phyllis called, she’s in the hospital. Who? What? Phyliss called! She’s in the hospital! Who called? Phyllis! Phyliss! Phyliss? Phyliss has syphilis?!

Stay tuned. We are on the precipice of more elder denial than ever with the Baby Boomers set to retire. You think it’s bad now, just wait until the Beatles generation starts moving into their retirement communes. My next products include “re-training” wheels for Harley-Davidson choppers, extra strength hearing aids for rock concert veterans, fake ponytails for balding hippies and large print issues of Rolling Stone magazine.

©2006, Janet Periat

AUTHOR’S NOTE: Since this article came out a few years ago, someone STOLE my idea for the iHear™. Just saw an ad for it in VIA magazine or somewhere like that. Hey, it’s a hearing aid disguised as a Bluetooth! THIEVES!!! Proves I’m not the only twisted mind in the universe…

ANOTHER AUTHOR’S NOTE: The above column can be found in my book Confessions of a Pink-Haired Lunatic.

Poisoning Your Way To Happiness

Saturday, May 24th, 2008

Okay, here’s a newsflash for you. A new study just came out that says when Botox is injected into your face, the poison has been found to ENTER THE BRAIN. Really? I am astounded! You mean, when you stick a needle into someone’s face, less than a half an inch away from the brain, and inject POISON, some actually travels there??? Wow! Stop the presses! How could this possibly happen?

Obviously, very few people took science in school. Including me, but even I figured out that if you stick a needle in someone’s body and inject poison, the stuff doesn’t magically contain itself to the injection site. There are these things called veins and capillaries and neurons that ACTUALLY CONNECT to other parts of the human body. Ever heard of the circulation system, people? Freakin’ kindergarteners seem to have a better grasp on the human body than most adults, especially the ones who think they’ll look younger with their faces frozen like mannequins.

I just can’t believe that anyone believed the manufacturer when the Purveyors of Poison told them that “studies had shown” that the neurotoxin completely broke down at the injection site into innocuous compounds and didn’t go beyond it. Wait. Let me get this straight. Poison—a compound used as a bioterrorism weapon—is injected into the muscle, kills some nerve endings and then somehow magically transforms into pixie dust or something? After destroying tissue, poison turns into rainbows and unicorns and pretty pink clouds? How the hell could anyone buy this BS? Even doctors believed it. Probably because their golf trip to Scotland was funded by the drug companies. And where did they do the testing on Botox originally? Greed Labs?

Doesn’t anyone realize that these corporate bastards don’t care if their product kills us? The Botox guys are the same kind of corporate creeps who told us Vioxx was safe. All they want is MONEY. And people are so gullible, they watch an ad on TV that says sticking poison in your face is completely safe and will make society like you more, so they grab their credit cards and rush to their nearest plastic surgeon.

The underlying message from these corporate jerks is that aging is a character flaw. If you don’t poison yourself, you might actually commit the horrible sin of LOOKING YOUR AGE and you will end up friendless and alone. Yeah, every time I see my grandmother, I think, wow, what a hideous troll, she should hide herself away. I mean, what is wrong with people? When did aging become something to be ashamed of? And just whom are we trying to please with all our Botoxed looks?

Which brings up the entire reason people get cosmetic procedures and inject their faces with poison: to make some stupid superficial people like them more. I mean, how dumb is that? No friendship is worth shoving a bunch of poison into your system. Women are spending money poisoning themselves so some fat middle-aged idiot won’t divorce them for a trophy wife. Why would anyone risk life and limb to stay in a relationship for the rest of your life with some creep who wanted you to look like a freakin’ twenty-year-old at forty? Why would you risk brain damage or death for some narcissistic freak? How could you be this desperate to stay with an idiot like that? For God’s sake, spare the injections and buy yourself a vibrator.

I realize some women are forced into cosmetic procedures to protect their jobs. If I were in that position, I’d tell my corporate masters to take a hike. What? Poison myself so I can keep my bloody job? Screw you, I’ll start my own freakin’ business. I mean, if you put Barbara Walters next to her wax figure at Madame Tussaud’s, there is no way you could tell the difference. Her face is a mask of surgical Botox wonder. And let’s not even go into Joan Rivers, she doesn’t even look human any more. Do these people look better than they would if they’d left their faces alone? No. They look like circus freaks.

Which brings us to the other problem with Botox: it doesn’t work. You don’t look younger after you get injected. You look like a stroke victim. Part of your face reacts to my jokes, part of it remains frozen. You can’t even raise your freakin’ eyebrows. And when you smile, your face goes all lopsided. You look freakin’ weird. Like some character out of a horror movie. I mean, whenever you run into anyone who’s had a bunch of plastic surgery and Botox injections, you don’t think, hey, they look good. You think, wow, they had a lot of work done. I think, jeez, there’s someone without any self-esteem. And lack of self-esteem can only be cured with therapy not surgery or poison.

And yes, I’ve heard the “pro” arguments for Botox. Medical uses like with cerebral palsy and stuff like that. Okay, so that makes sense. But other than for a disease, I don’t get it. Some shrink friend of a friend had some bad stuff happen to her earlier in her life so her neutral expression made her look mean. It was off-putting to her clients, so she got Botox. How dumb is that? Yet another example of someone poisoning themselves so crazy people will like them better. I mean, this is the reason everyone gets injected with Botox, so crazy people will like them better. What solid reasoning!

Of course, I’m sure the new warnings won’t scare off the die-hard plastic surgery junkies. In fact, I’m so sure of it, I’ve started a new company. Forever Beautiful: Embalming For The Living. I’m gonna make billions.

©2008, Janet Periat

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