It caught me by surprise when I realised that older people do have lives. As I progressed towards becoming a sad old person with no life, a doom that was almost impossible to think of in any good way in years gone by, things didn’t go according to plan. Instead, in many ways my life got better. This confused me for a while – wasn’t the diminishing of robust physicality and sexual currency the worst thing ever? I looked around to see if I could find what was going wrong, and discovered that there are actually lots of older people who are happier than they ever used to be. We sneakily-happy old guerrillas of life live under the radar, a secret shadow world that exists between sexy and senility. Here there be life indeed. I liken the discovery of life after getting older to finding that a place to which we were not looking forward to going, turns out to actually be okay, and even quite good fun.
The clothing choices for older people are total crap, though. I can’t get my head around that one. We do have money to spend. No, we don’t chuck it around like we used to, but we will spend some of it. There’s a truck load of baby boomers arriving, and more coming up behind, with bodies that aren’t what they used to be, and no-one is making clothes for them. If one hasn’t retained one’s youthful svelteness (jeez, who wants to work that hard?), or is a natural racehorse, the clothing choices seem to be cheap badly shaped sacks, or eye-wateringly expensive less-badly shaped sacks. If there are mid-price moderately-badly shaped sacks, I never seem to see them. Mind you, that’s no great wonder really – I’m shite at shopping. My sister can walk into a basement full of smelly rags, and come out with some great stuff. It’s a talent I lack. All I know now is that I can’t walk into a shop to buy some jeans and a tee-shirt without wanting to slash my wrists at the futility of it. Between the sexes, we have bellies, bulges, bums, and boobs – oh, the shockingness of it – but rather than make clothes to fit us which are comfortable, cut well, and have a bit of style, we are supposed to fit the clothes. So far, that hasn’t worked out so great.
At this point, I’m going to give a gratis shout out to Thunderpants who make damn good underwear that actually covers one’s bum. They also have – now, brace yourself – people modelling them who aren’t fourteen years old and size nothing-at-all!
So, now that I’ve got the grizzle about the clothes out of the way, I’m going to tell you how mind-blowingly good it is to just not care about all the stupid stuff we used to care about (except the clothes). This is truly one of THE BEST things about getting older. Where exactly we drop off the baggage, I don’t know, but we get to a point where we realise that much of it has gone. Bloody brilliant! I don’t quite know why, but once the baggage has gone, we get bolshier and mouthier. We speak up and annoy the living daylights out pretty much anyone who’s in the service industry in some way. Sure, they hate us, because what’s there to like? We’re old and haven’t got much currency left in us of any sort, so we’re just wasting their time. But, do we care? You got it.
Now, what use is a ramble about people, regardless of age, without bringing sex into it somewhere. I remember how I use to squirm at the idea of ‘crusties’ having sex, so now that I’m in the ‘crusty’ category, I have much pleasure in being the squirm-maker. You hear that evil cackle – that’s me. In the interests of full disclosure, I’ve been single for some years (although, because I’m alive and I breathe, the occasional offer is not unheard of), so I’m working on theory here when I say that I expect it’s bellies, bulges, bums, and boobs all over the place like it always has been. It’s just the amount and consistency of said body parts that has changed. When we’re in the first flush of romantic love, we think of sex as being a beautiful thing. Really, it’s not. Having said that, sex can be intimate and that may be beautiful, as well as how it makes us feel extra special and important to someone. But, although banging and bumping away might be fun, it’s still a bang and bump (or a B&B – yes, I stole that one) whether we’re twenty or twenty x 4. Of course, the pace and acrobatics will have changed, as will have the bodies performing them. And that’s where we usually want to stop the picture, but this is real life, and not a movie. If they can, and they like each other enough (or their partner pesters them enough) people all the way along the age continuum have sex regardless of anyone else’s opinion or delicate sensibilities. End of. Get used to it. In cultures that are less body-obsessed than ours, this wouldn’t even be considered a topic of conversation.
Kind of continuing on the sex theme (you know what they say about people who talk about it all the time), something else happens, which seems like a bad thing when we’re looking at from our youthful perspectives, but actually isn’t a bad thing at all when we get there, is that our libidos stop racing along full throttle, and ease into cruise mode. Believe it or not, this is not terrible. Even those of us who had just the garden variety libido, and nothing rampant that will go down in history/herstory, find a sort of peace in this. Then, we start really and truly looking outside of ourselves, and being interested in other things – which is not the same as having ‘outside interests’. In many ways I feel sharper and edgier than I ever have, because I don’t get in the way of myself so damned much. I say to people that “I finally got over myself.” Some know what I mean, some don’t.
Turning sixty has put me into the last third or so of my life, and I feel that I’m seeing it all with new eyes, and a new excitement. I’m looking forward to discovering what this means for me, and where it takes me. I’ll keep you posted.