I recently watched an episode of Grace and Frankie where they were in a store to buy cigarettes. The clerk ignored them no matter how much they called him. The cute young blond came along and got immediate service.
While the show was highly over exaggerated, I found myself relating to these characters. Why would I find myself so sympathetic to their plight? I relate because I am one of them. Even though I look younger than my age and I’m not that old, I’m certainly not “young” anymore.
A year or so ago I decided to let my hair go grey. I had been dyeing it for years and it was time for a break. I discovered that I love my grey hair and so does everyone that sees me I see 20 year olds paying big bucks for what I have been blessed with naturally.
With the change in hair I noticed a funny thing happening. I became invisible. Not to store clerks and others around my age. Simply put I became invisible to the ever superior 20-40 somethings. The 20 somethings I can almost understand. They are young and busy. They are in the process of defining a generation. Most of them find everyone that isn’t on their phone invisible anyway.
The biggest surprise was the interactions with the 40 somethings. Could it be that they are still trying to work out their mommy issues? Is it that they are terrified because they are aging themselves? They come with a superior tone and an overabundance of impatience and condescension.
Being invisible is not just about being ignored. It is about being spoken too like you are a child. It’s about people acting like you couldn’t possibly be capable of doing ANYTHING physical. It’s about people speaking for you and talking about you while you are standing there without including you in the conversation.
Over the years I have had many friends that were 20 or more years older than me. I find older people fascinating because they have had some amazing experiences. My friends were and are anything but “old”. They camp and cook. One of them took up Spanish at 72 and began writing books in her 3rd language! She also used the rowing machine for an hour every day and walked for miles!
These days I am having trouble defining old. When I was growing up old was 50. Now 80 is the new 50 and each year it becomes more and more obvious that we need a new way of relating.
Yes, there are some unfortunates that get old and sick fast. However, I know a large number of both men and women in their 70’s that have just gotten started. They learn new languages, travel, take up new sports.
I had a conversation with a friend the other day. She is contemplating retiring from her job. She, like me, finds it hard to use the term retirement. To us that conjures a mental picture of old sick people sitting around waiting to die.
We are doing so much more in our later years than we ever have before. Daily on Facebook I see 80 something runway models and body builders that look better than most people ever have. We have broken through so many barriers it would be nice to finally allow our older generation to become visible again.