Act your age, and show it off too

Older people are vanishing. They’re disappearing, like the wrinkles on Benjamin Button’s face.

No, I’m not talking about dying. Here’s an example.

I love getting Christmas cards from family and old friends. The photos they often include help me stay up to date on the changes that characterize the passing years. After all, we are forever changing.

So, I’ve got my stack of cards and photos in front of me as I write this. Here’s a shot of Michael’s and Judy’s kid playing the trumpet. Talented. And here’s one of Nancy’s and Steve’s boys, side by side in front of a lagoon. That kid on the left looks like a young Alice Cooper. Oh, and here’s a good shot of Jim’s and Cassandra’s three kids, their arms all interlocked like rugby players. Glad to see they get along well. Here’s a real keeper: a yellow lab and an orange tabby plopped side by side in a window seat, both creatures terribly embarrassed. Grady, my old college roommate, sent that one.

I have many more images like these, with bright, attractive and busy kids and pets living the good life, while their parents and owners hide behind the camera.

Look, Steve, your kid’s obviously attractive and probably brilliant, but I’ve never met him, and since you live in Jacksonville, I probably never will. But I worked with you for more than a decade and I’d like to see how you’re doing, emphasis on the word see. Grady, for two years I put up with your snoring and digestive irregularities in that utility closet they called a dorm room — not always pleasant, but an important passage in my life. While I’m glad you care about our four-legged friends, how are you holding up?

Wait, before you answer, let’s get one thing straight: When we get older, we get uglier. And don’t blather on about “golden years,” “wisdom lines” or the miracles of Advanced Radiance Age-Defying Makeup. As our numbers go north, our appearance goes south. So Grady, Steve and Nancy (hey, did you ever hike Patagonia like you promised?), I already assume you’re grayer, chunkier and wrinklier than when I last saw you in the 70s, 80s and 90s, respectively. Heck, you might even exceed my postdated expectations. So get over it and step out in front of the camera.

While you’re at it, do something about your Facebook profile picture. Nancy, yours is a generic gray silhouette. Grady, the snapshot of the goat was funny for about five seconds. It’s been five years. Sorry, but someone tagged you in a picture from your daughter’s wedding, so I’ve seen you. I know you still exist in physical form. The way you downed tater tots in the dining hall, I’m not surprised you’re toting all that life experience around your midsection. And by the way, male-pattern baldness affects 40 million American men, so you’re not alone. Get the picture? Then get in the picture.

Too many people assume that once we’ve reached a certain age, the world no longer wants to see our faces. Hooey. You may not be pretty, but that wasn’t why I liked you in the first place. Step in front of that camera and smile extra big. That way, I can see all those glorious, hard-earned wrinkles around your eyes.

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