I’ve never been a fan of numbers. Don’t get me wrong – I love math and always have. No, it’s the practice of attaching a number to everything that makes me squirm. And, beyond that, giving those numbers significance, as if they have irrevocable power over us.
I say fight the power! They’re just numbers, after all. And, in my opinion, this goes double for the number most likely to mash you under its quantitative thumb: your age.
What is this voodoo that the digits do, anyway? It seems that as you approach the end of your twenties, each age is laden with some kind of meaning, especially the ones that end in zero and five. And, I think for most people, that meaning is negative.
I remember years ago when one of my girlfriends mentioned that she had started wearing a heart monitor to the gym. “Why, is something wrong?” I asked, startled. “No,” she replied and looked at me as though I were being dense. “But now that we’re in our thirties, we can’t be too careful.”
I could have pinched her head off, I was so disgusted. What kind of attitude was this? And what accessory would she be sporting the next time we met for coffee – a walker? I was 32 at the time, and I remember thinking, I don’t know which thirties you’re in, but they’re sure not the thirties that I’m in!
Looking back now from my perch in my mid-forties, her comment seems even more ridiculous. More than a decade later, it would never occur to me to strap on a heart monitor for a routine workout, any more than I would consider asking someone to drive me to the store to do my weekly marketing. The more I think about it, my approach to life, health and, well, pretty much everything hasn’t changed much in the last 25 years.
Why? Because I’m totally immature.
Now, before you tsk-tsk, let me say that I pay the bills on time, floss every morning and night and keep my children’s vaccinations strictly up to date. I’m not irresponsible, I’m immature. There’s a diff.
Wondering if you’re immature, too? Ask yourself these questions: In the last six months, have you quoted a line from “Wayne’s World” to the grocery store cashier? When you stop at a red light, do you see other drivers looking around, trying to locate the source of the thumping bass? Have you ever taught the other moms at the PTA meeting how to make that armpit-fart sound?
If you answered yes to any of the above, then congratulations! You, too, are in complete denial about your biological age. And, while I’m not typically a fan of denial, this particular type is, as Martha Stewart would say, “a good thing.” After all, what’s the alternative - embracing some kind of personality or outlook shift that is “supposed to” accompany your age? (There’s that pesky number again, bossing everyone around.)
No, I’m not willing to stifle or snuff out aspects of myself to fit some prefab set of age-appropriate expectations; that would feel fake. And, while I will go to my grave with my authentic gray hairs masked under a layer of artificial salon color, the notion of acting fake is simply unacceptable.
I should warn you, though, that being your authentic immature self when you are, in fact, mature (chronologically, at least), can make your peers uncomfortable. They will let you know it, too, with words like “crazy” and “silly.” (I get that a lot.) Once they see that they aren’t dissuading you from eating a jumbo box of Junior Mints while perfecting your Dougie, however, they usually lose interest and go back to reading the Wall Street Journal or oiling the teak patio furniture or whatever it is that emotionally mature people do.
Two Bay Area Appearances This Week
I'm excited to say that I will be in Northern California later this week and will be reading/signing books at two outstanding independent bookstores. If you're in the area, I hope you'll stop by so we can chat it out in person. (And who knows? There might be a free foot sander in it for you...)
Thursday, December 8 - 7:00 pm
A Great Good Place for Books
6120 LaSalle Avenue - Montclair Village
Oakland, CA 94611
Friday, December 9 - 7:00 pm
51 Tamal Vista Boulevard
Corte Madera, CA 94925
(NYC-area friends: I'll be at the Barnes & Noble on the Upper West Side - 82nd & Broadway - next Monday evening 12/12 at 7:00 pm. More about that later this week!)
And: I've Suspected This All Along
My very talented and funny friend Robin O'Bryant's new book KETCHUP IS A VEGETABLE: AND OTHER LIES MOM TELL THEMSELVES is out! It's already hit an Amazon Kindle bestseller list and the 5-star reviews are racking up all over the place. But don't take my word for it:
"A book about motherhood that will make you nod with recognition, while simultaneously reminding you to schedule a hysterectomy." -Jenny Lawson, The Bloggess
Robin is graciously giving away a copy of KETCHUP IS A VEGETABLE to a lucky LJKGW reader! Simply leave a comment before 5:00 pm PST this Friday 12/9 to enter the random drawing.
Congrats, Robin! I can't wait to read the copy I just bought...