Locust? Famine? Floods? You wish. Nope. The Aging Apocalypse is not the end of the world, just the end of your youth. And not just the gray hair, reading glasses, and overall crotchety demeanor you’ve been expecting. It’s far more nuanced. And, oh, it’s happening. The signs are there. I’ve been side eyeing them with a growing sense of helplessness that I’m powerless to stop my impending irrelevance.
Seven Signs of Aging
Sad to say, it starts with birds. And not Alfred Hitchcock birds. That’s too cool and cinematically interesting. Rather, just the average birds in your yard. At first you notice a red bird or a blue bird and think, “well, isn’t that pretty.” As the aging takes hold, you don’t even need it to be a brightly colored rare bird. Those blah looking ones will do.
You are now pointing out birds to your kids because you’ve lost all sense of reality about what young people are interested in. Hint: It’s not birds. I’m pretty sure that every time you genuinely admire a bird, you get a wrinkle.
#2. Ferris Bueller
The moment you realize Ferris Bueller is a total asshole, your Aging Apocalypse is nigh. It will surprise you as you watch this movie you loved as a kid and realize that, holy hell, Ferris isn’t seizing the day, he’s a self-involved narcissist. He’s a bad friend, a jerky brother, and a lying and manipulative child. His smug confidence makes you want to smack him in the head. You will only identify with one character. Yup. The principal.
You know you are the principal. You have lame clothes and a job that has left a you a shell of a person who is randomly angry. You are rooting for him to catch Ferris and restore justice to the world and there’s nothing you can do to pretend this is not happening. People our age who claim to still like Ferris? Kidding themselves. No judgment. The Aging Apocalypse will bring you to a desperate place.
One of the strongest signs of the Aging Apocalypse is when you become consumed with all things traffic related. You finally understand why your parents packed up in the middle of fireworks display you waited all evening…nay…all day, to watch. They knew that there would be no getting out of that parking lot.
So, you did what most kids did in the 70s did, you watched the finale from the inside of the car vowing you’d never, ever be like your stupid uptight parents.
Welp. So much for that. You’re them. From concerts to sporting events to fireworks displays, you are constantly mentally graphing and charting the ratio of enjoying yourself in the moment, to the price you are willing to pay sitting helplessly trapped in your car inching forward intermittently, hating every goddamn person who doesn’t get the “you, go, then I go,” code of honor in high volume traffic situations. Spoiler Alert: What wins out every time is your new life goal…being in your own bed.
#4. Your Basement
Remember all that crap your parents had in their basement? You smugly thought you’d never amass that much stuff, until one sorry day you realize you have. Your basement is a graveyard of old furniture. Bins and bins of holiday decorations. Upwards of 100 paint cans you are sure are multiplying like Gremlins. Most of them some variation of gray. Peanut butter jars full of nails, screws, wooden pegs. Why are you saving wooden pegs? No one know. No. One. Knows.
What’s happening in your basement is a battle for your very youth. You will fight this, unsuccessfully. What starts out as your vow to take back your basement and somehow not be a pathetic caricature of middle aged parents, ends up in a whimper of defeat with you slinking quietly out of the basement opting for sweet, sweet death to mercifully save you from this hell. It’s your kids’ problem now…and they totally have it coming.
Here’s the deal. I don’t know who the hell anyone is anymore. You don’t either. The tabloids and red carpet fashion show is just a collection of pretty strangers you vaguely recognize. Like…I think that might be one of those Chrises, You’ll pull up IMDB on your phone…in your browser. When it asks if you want to open the app, you mutter “don’t tell me what to do” and stick with the browser.
And the stars you grew up with? Unrecognizable from aging or savage plastic surgery that makes you, momentarily, happy you can’t afford it. Still, the Botox whispers seductively because if that is Michael Douglas, what hope is there for the rest of us?
#6. A Weekend in Asheville, NC
One day you will be looking for a weekend family trip and you’ll stumble on a town like Asheville, North Carolina. It’s nestled in the foothill of some mountains with a “cool” artistic vibe. You’ll start to mention things to do to your teenage kids who will be rightfully horrified. You hear yourself talking up glassblowing, pottery class, and live jazz brunches. You’ll say the words “artist colony” out loud and instantly you’ll look down and be wearing pleated khakis, Chico’s sweater, and rocking Amber Vision. Succumb.
#7. Bath Towels
Remember your parents’ towels? We had brown towels. Brown. In the 70s all color palettes were sensibly determined by the color of dirt, which you now get. We had them from my first memory until I left for college. They were torn, frayed, bleach stained, disturbingly thin, but most upsetting? They smelled like years of must. We’d be different right? Once we found out that for $7.99 you could get a new towel at TJ Maxx, there was no way we’d ever have old, worn-out, smelly towels.
What the Aging Apocalypse teaches you is that it was never about the cost of the towels. It was the complete and utter ceasing of giving a shit due to the endless exhaustion of parenting and adulting. Although you’ll replace them over the years, eventually, you will numbly fold a ripped, bleach destroyed, stained towel that has a bit of a funk and put it in the linen closet without so much as noticing or caring in the least. That’s when the Apocalypse is upon you.
Is There Any Hope?
Like all prophetic doom, there’s not much you can do to stop the Aging Apocalypse. You’re getting close to the kind of aging that will make you long for the days of being middle aged. The scales have been tipped…and, let’s face it, you are careening toward plain old, old. If you don’t believe me, why do you have a collection of spare buttons? Why do you fall asleep watching TV at 9pm, your head bobbing nearly off your neck? Why can’t you digest onions? Why are podcasts your primary form of entertainment? Why are you cold?
You’re a cautionary tale now of the inevitable march toward irrelevance and invisibility. But, all is not lost. I hear the glassblowing in Asheville is AMAZING! Hell yeah it is.
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Meredith Trotta is a freelance writer and blogger. She blogs at Mblazoned.com about the honest hilarity of parenting, marriage, and, reluctantly, being middle-aged. She is a featured blogger on Huff Post, both U.S. and internationally. Meredith has been published on Scary Mommy, Grown & Flown, Ski Magazine, MamaMia, and Newsner to name a few, and has been translated and shared around the world. She has been featured on Good Morning America and Australia’s Sunrise for The Default Parent and Open Letter to My Kids About Summer respectively, and interviewed on radio shows around the world.