Last week, a call from my doctor’s office left me stunned. My annual checkup was due, so I’d called earlier to ask if I could pick my “poop” test in advance. I like to get medical “stuff” out of the way before the warm weather.
Imagine my surprise when the nurse replied as follows: “Good news. No more fecal tests. You’re too old.”
How in the world could being too old for anything except the draft be good news? I felt abandoned, as if I’d slipped off a cliff and my doctor’s advice, as she leaned down over the ledge, was to shout, “If I were you, I’d flap my arms like crazy.”
I’ll tell you what hasn’t gone old in America. Ageism. At 103, my mother is too old to be revived if she stops breathing; at 95, my friend is too old for a dental implant; At 78, Joe Biden is too old to be president of the United States, or too lecherous – whichever bests discredits him.
That being the case, explain to me why science works like hell to help us live longer. I sense a nation at war with itself. No doubt the young wish the elderly would take more interest in dropping off cliffs, but I see no Lemming migration anytime soon. Quite the opposite. As the population continues to grey, I predict more live theater matinees.
Of course, the young have one hold card. They can reduce us to children. Their first ploy is diminutive speech. The elderly lose their names. They become Honey or Sweetie, appellations soon to be followed by the royal we. “Shall we eat our peas, now?”
I don’t blame the young for their attitude. Their brains aren’t fully developed until they approach thirty. Till then, they presume having a job defines a person. That’s nonsense, of course. If work were the issue, why, between the ages of 5 and 110, do humans look forward to vacations? Why, from the moment they receive their first paychecks, do they hear of little else except how to plan for retirement?
Intuitively, the young may sense people are best at being themselves when they are at play. And, except for doctor visits, that’s what old age is. Pure play. Our behavior may make us seem like children, but to believe it is a mistake.
Now that I’ve settled the matter, I’m going outside to flap my arms in the wind. It sounds like fun.