I turn 50 next April, so I'm probably thinking more about getting older than I usually do. Now, perhaps it's because I've got my health—did I mention I won my tennis league this year?—but most of my reflections on aging are genuinely happy ones. Just the other night, drinking a glass of scotch on the redeye home from Phoenix, I jotted these down—and present them in the order they came to me.
- Awkward conversations are only awkward. My teenage daughter is mortified after one. I tell her that when she's old like me she'll have had so many awkward conversations that she'll come not to take them personally, or panicky: Yes, this conversation is awkward. No, I don't know how long this is going to last, but I know I can do this for at least an hour before I pass out. No, I'm not sure whether I'll be able to smooth it out, or whether I'll have to excuse myself and climb out the bathroom window. In any case, I will survive.
- From root canals to fuckhead bosses, you've had enough bad stuff happen to you that in almost any situation, you can say with conviction earned from experience, "It could be so much worse."
- You no longer have to stew that you'll develop into an alcoholic when you're older. You either have, by now, or you haven't. Depending on whatever an "alcoholic" is, anyway.
- You know how to recognize and actually enjoy the whole spectrum of humanity: loathsome, tolerable, agreeable and gorgeous.
- You know an affordable hotel in New York and an expensive steakhouse in Phoenix. #janehotel #durant's
- You don't waste money you don't have on fancy sunglasses.
- You have a fucking story for everything.
- You know how to act at funerals. (Remember how bad that was when you were young and before you had mourned anyone yourself?)
- Everyone you know is old too, so no goddamn conversations about the meaning of life and very few about the environment either.
At that point, I closed my notebook, put my tray table into the upright and locked position and drifted off to sleep for the duration of the flight.
I consider this list a thought starter—for me, and for you—to celebrate ways in which the lives of older people are more comfortable, meaningful, sane, serene and pleasurable than those of the frenzied young.
Please use the comments section to register your own.
10. Nicknames. When you're 29 and you call someone named Ryan "Rye," someone will tell you quietly, "He doesn't go by 'Rye,' and you'll stop calling him that." When you're fifty and someone tells you Ryan doesn't go by "Rye," you'll say, "Well, that's what I call him," and you'll go on without another thought. (And Ryan will cheerfully agree, "Yep, Dave calls me Rye. He's the only one!")