Friday, June 22, 2007

The good news about getting older

There's a lot of bad news about getting older, "older" defined as any number bigger than the one you're admitting to. The fun perks were getting to drink, drive and vote (even if yours never seems to matter and may not even get counted). And, for those kids trying to rent a car, 26 is the magical number.

But once the excitement of those has tapered off, there's a long lag until the last big perk, the senior discount. My husband particularly warmed to it because he's four years my junior. His voice booms as he belloww out to the ticket seller at movie theaters, far louder than necessary, "One senior and one normal person!"

Nobody prepared me for the one huge perk about being older,: the stakes are lower. Sure, you still get willies waiting for medical tests and can be taken down by a natural disaster or being thrust into retirement, but social and professional anxieties are minimized. Walking into a room of strangers no longer means hearing that scary voice, "What if they don't like me?"

Younger people feel, perhaps correctly, that their fate is in the hands of a mentor, boss, potential boss, lover, potential lover, teacher, even a roommate. Each new event is an audition. At my age, whether I'm a big hit or a major embarrassment, my circumstances won't change dramatically. I'm established, which doesn't mean things are over, just that they're in place. This allows me a measure of comfort, I appreciate, especially since I'll never again know the thrill of being served a drink with fake I.D.

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