Last night I was woken up by the sudden realisation that I’m only fifteen years off turning fifty. Fifty. Five Zero. FIFTY. Boy did that ever start a major midnight meltdown. I can’t possibly be that close to fifty. I’ve only just started feeling like I’ve hit my stride, like I’m actually getting somewhere. I haven’t achieved half the things I wanted to have accomplished by thirty, let alone fifty. The eighteen years since I graduated highschool disappeared faster than Right Said Fred’s musical career. The next fifteen years are going to absolutely motor by.
I know age is just a state of mind, only a number, you’re only as old as you feel, blah blah blah, but now that I’m starting to see the physical signs of ageing on my body and mind, it’s seriously giving me the shits.
My left knee has started making a weird clicking sound. When I go up the stairs, when I go down the stairs, when I crouch down to talk to my dog, when I stand up again, when I get out of bed, when I lift something, when I hang out the washing, when I sit down, etcetera and so forth. It’s particularly impressive when I’m on the exercise bike at the gym. It sounds like my left hand indicator is going. On more than one occasion the person to my left has eyed me warily, worried I was about to magically veer off and speed towards the treadmills (no chance, I hate the treadmill). It doesn’t just click, it also makes a disgusting gristly noise. And it hurts. Well, I’m not sure it does actually hurt, but it sounds like it should, so it does.
My knee makes me feel old, not that I am old. I’m only 35, which is roughly half the age people are when they realise others are treating them like they’re old. Nevertheless, it’s unsettling. It makes me look for other signs I’m at risk of being Heritage Listed. Hanging eyelids, frown lines between my eyebrows, a décolletage that needs ironing. My hairdresser described my regrowth as ‘sparkly’ last week, the bastard. Until he confirmed I had grey hairs, I’d been happily convinced they were rebellious blonde streaks, throwbacks from my childhood when my hair was golden yellow, and my face untouched by a life of excess (for full effect, read that last sentence out loud in the style of Quentin Crisp).
There are other signs too, undeniable proof. Toys that I played with when I was little are in museums. Blocks of units built the year I was born get knocked down because they’re old and decrepit. The neighbours consistently make too much noise for my liking. I use earplugs when I sleep. I can’t hear when I’m spoken to (those last two are not interrelated. I’m not, as yet, senile). My back hurts. So does my neck. And my feet. I never leave the house without Nurofen (I often leave without my car keys, but never my Nurofen). I occasionally squint when I read something. I involuntarily groan when I sit down. I get hangovers after one martini instead of seven. PEOPLE WHO HAND ME THEIR RESUMES WERE BORN THE YEAR I GRADUATED SCHOOL! That last one is a real kicker. I categorically refuse to ever employ anyone born in 1994.
Speaking of school, my school days were so long ago that my school friends’ kids are now on Facebook. One has a daughter at my old high school. Another had a son graduate last year – from Grade 12, not preschool. Worst of all, one entered a fruitcake in this year’s Royal Show. She’s joined the CWA and is now taking part in baking competitions. Jesus Christ. She’ll be crocheting doilies next, and insisting we call her Beryl (that the cooking competition is listed under ‘Fine Arts’ in the show guide is a disturbing fact I’ll need to discuss at a later date). Break out the “World’s Best Grandma” t-shirts. My contemporaries are geriatrics, I guess I am too.
I used to be the youngest person in my friend group by over a decade. All through my twenties I was inexplicably attracted to people so much older than me it made the union of Anna Nicole Smith & J. Howard Marshall seem conventional. Good thing that’s changed. If I were to fancy someone older than me these days it’d be pretty dull. They’d be dead.
No, I’m the old one now. My last girlfriend was 13 years younger than me, and she was well past the age of consent. My staff call me Mamma. Mamma McCarthy. Seriously? I’m not ready for a newborn to recognise me as its mother, let alone a bunch of twentysomethings who need help juggling their ‘work/life balance’. Everyone comes to me for advice. When did I stop being the bad influence, and become the oracle? Maybe when I decided skulling a bottle of Passion Pop and puffing away on two packets of St Moritz Extra Mild Menthols didn’t exactly constitute a wholesome meal. With great age comes great wisdom, as they say.
Yesterday, feeling frustrated and needing a boost of motivation, I hit ‘random quote’ on a website for inspirational quotes. You know what came up?
Thirty-five is the age when you finally get your head together, and your body starts falling apart” Caryn Leschen.
Very inspiring, provided you were looking for the inspiration needed to throw yourself under a bus.
You know what I think? I think ‘fifty’ is an acronym. I think it stands for Fuck I Feel Too Young. I’m not ready for this stage of my life. I’ve got way too much immaturity left in me. Yeah, I’m old enough to know better than to be seen out shooting tequila from between my tits and licking salt off strangers’ wrists, but I’m not yet ready for tea and scones at Shady Pines.
Now, someone help me out of this chair I’m sitting in. I’ve got work to do!