Monday, December 5, 2011

In Defense of Immaturity

Or: I Know You Are, But What Am I?

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.

It’s cool.

In my opinion, the point is that we should all be ourselves throughout the decades without regard to any stereotypical notion of how a person should behave in their forties, fifties or beyond. In my case, for better or worse, part of that package is the irresistible urge to applaud when someone drops a plate in a restaurant. You, too? Well, come on over and pull out a chair. You’re always welcome at my lunch table.

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

Book Passage
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...


Fragrant Liar said...

Dude. I'm fighting the numbers all the way to the couch. So much emphasis is placed on your age and how you should therefore act accordingly. I'm with you! If I'm inspired to bounce on the beds with the kids and wear the same styles my daughters wear, so be it! I am not my number!

hokgardner said...

Amen. And that's why I turned a good portion of my hair pink in honor of my 41st birthday. And it's why I'm prone to dancing in the middle of Target if there's a good song on, much to the mortification of my daughters.

Furtheron said...

Does screaming from the open window of a moving car that you are being tortured by the Buble Christmas CD count?

I decided to avoid numbers - What do I weigh? I don't know. A little more than is probably ideal for me but I can still get into the majority of trousers on the rail that is all that matters worrying to the grave over a few lbs here or there is a bit daft

Argent said...

I'm just as immature as you, and long may it continue for both of us! I've seen the worry-lines and the grey multiplying when people decide to be 'grown-up'. no thanks.

larainydays said...

I ignore numbers, unless they are say something nice about me, can't think of any nice numbers at the moment.

I'm so sorry I missed you at Desert Ridge last week. I hope you had fun.

Pseudo said...

One of the perks of my job as a middle school teacher is being both the authority figure in the room, and having an audience. When one of the kids accidentally quotes a line form a song they do not know but I do (think 60's/70's/80's), I sing it back at them while doing a little rhythm movement. I love when they get embarrassed for me.

Leslie said...

I'm definitely still immature and don't have any plans to change any time soon!

Chanalesings said...

Totally agree. I think we can pick an age that we feel at heart and just work that into our current age somehow. Whats cooler than a cool grandma??

Bama Cheryl said...

Yeah, wearing a heart monitor in your thirties seems silly unless you have an issue. I'm in my early 60s and don't wear one - just a pedometer so I know how far I've wandered from home.

I saw Robin's book and thought it looked awesome. Would love to win a copy!

MommyTime said...

I think I need to be more immature than I am. I do enjoy (more than I always admit to my kids) the ridiculous jokes they make up that are full of potty humor, though. So at least I'm not a total dud. ;)

meleah rebeccah said...

Ah yes. I am totally in complete denial about my biological age. And I'd like to keep it that way!

Enjoy your book signing appearances this week!

Ann Imig said...

Pass the mega chewy sweethearts, I'm in. said...

Whoooopie for subwoofers! I am TOTALLY IMMATURE!

Take that, all you grannies out there! I'm 17 at heart! (For-EV-er. Duh!?).

Nicole Leigh Shaw said...

I beat box (with little to no discernible skill). As I age I become more and more like a 13-year-old boy; I've got the fledgling mustache to prove it.

Alexandra said...

I am immature.

Why I was blessed with boys:

someone to share my funny (my I think they're funny) Xmas balls jokes.

Making their appearance at a December near you.


ALSO: A funny book? I want it.

Tonia said...

Wait, are there mothers out there who think ketchup is not a vegetable!? The shame!

HermanTurnip said...

We can't be too our 30's? Wow! Perhaps I should be taking a walker up with me next time I run Mt. Whitney...

...ya know, now that I think about it, that would make for one heck of a picture at the summit ;-)

Liz @ ewmcguire said...

Emotional maturity is way overrated!

Number Whisperer said...

For now, I use my kids to mask the fact that I'm immature. They think I'm fun. I'll be sad when they get older and start to wish I was more like regular "old" moms.