10 Reasons Old People Are Just Like the Rest of Us
Don’t be afraid of old people. They aren’t contagious. They’ve just lived longer and know a lot more than you. Trust me on this.
When I was a little girl I used to be afraid of old people. I thought maybe they were a different species, humans who couldn’t bend over very well, or eat what I did because they had to take their teeth out and put them in a glass of water at night. And they farted a lot.
But I’d like to offer this little guide to assure you that you don’t have to be afraid of old people. They’re just like the rest of us. I’m eminently qualified to write on this subject so you can trust what I have to say. I’ve don’t a lot of first-hand research, and also, I’m an old person now.
Old people think about sex, just like you do.
I learned this when I was a young candy striper and volunteering in my local hospital. A nurse asked me to check on an 85-year-old man in the room at the end of the hall to see if he needed company, some cheering up. So I popped into his room, full of cheer I was willing to share with him, my pert twenty-something innocent self ready with a sunny smile. “Hi, Mr. So and So, anything I can do for you, today?” I asked brightly. He leaned on his elbow with a sly twinkle in his eyes. “Sure, sweetheart. How about you take your top off and show me your tits.” So don’t worry, old people aren’t robotic creatures just shoveling mashed potatoes and gruel into their mouths waiting for end times. They’re lusting after young flesh just like the rest of you.
Old people like to party down.
You think you’re the only dudes who like chill with a little dooba dust or whatever your score of choice happens to be? You haven’t seen a crowd of seniors fight over marijuana at a party. “Can I take some of that back to Florida with me? It’s not legal in my state and my arthritis is killing me. My son gave me some the other night and it was the best sleep I had in months.”
Old people like to dance.
You think you’ve got moves, you Gen X,Y and Zers? I’ve seen you showing off out on the dance floor at your best friend’s wedding and your cousins’ bar mitzvahs. But you ain’t seen nothing until you’ve seen Uncle Fred do the Shitter Shuffle, bouncing like a jumping jack when nature calls and he’s too far from the bathroom to walk like a gentleman. He has to dodge the coffee table, his wife’s walker, the grandson’s skateboard he left behind last time he visited. He’s in a hurry because when nature calls at his age, if he doesn’t make it in time, he’s going be downstairs doing the Laundry Limbo.
Old people have dreams.
You think you’re the only visionaries with quests and passions. Old people have dreams. Every time they sit down they fall asleep, and there they are, in dreamland.
Old people can laugh at themselves.
Everybody laughs, at least if they’re lucky. But it takes a person seasoned in life who can step back have a little perspective. Maybe not take things so seriously and poke one at herself. It takes a big person, and often that’s an old person, to get it when the joke’s on himself. And that’s one of the best things about being old. When you can start laughing at yourself, you can spend your whole day having a good time. Laughing at yourself. How hard life is when you judge everything you do by everyone else’s standard. When you show up at a party in the wrong clothes. My ancient uncle got an invite to a party that said “Black tie.” He went right down to Macys and bought one. And laughed his head off when all the young men showed up in a tux. Who was the life of the party that night? Not the guys with sticks up their rears looking like penguins, but the old duffer who could laugh at himself thinking black tie meant he had to look like an undertaker.
Old people can still make the world go round.
It’s easy to make fun of old people and our declining bodily functions. How else to cope with the stress our bodies are under after so many years dealing with all we subject them to? The reality is serious enough, so why not poke a hole in it when you can? But if it’s serious you want, take a look at old people when they get down to business. The list of businesses started by seniors over 65 could possibly take up all of Medium’s bandwidth. Let me highlight a few for you.
Where would we be without Kentucky Fried Chicken?
At age 65 Harlan Sanders adopted the title Colonel Sanders, founded Kentucky Fried Chicken, and turned bucket o’ wings into a thing.
If you want something healthier, take a look at Lisa Gable.
At 70, Lisa invented a new kind of bra strap, important if you happen to be a woman. The Strap-Mate is still widely available today, with Lisa, now age 85, still at the helm.
Art Koff couldn’t stop working.
And he knew that was true for many other retired people. In his 70s he started a job board for seniors called Retired Brains.
Jeanne Dowell doesn’t know the meaning of stop.
After teaching yoga for 40 years, Jeanne Dowell turned 80 and founded the successful Green Buddha clothing, with her daughter, Dana Dowell Windatt.
Old people think for themselves.
Have you been in on a conversation where somebody finishes the sentence of an old person? Not because they’re stupid, just because they have to stop for a nanosecond to come up with a word that’s slipped their memory. I won’t go into to how insulting that is, you’ll find out when you’re an old person, but don’t confuse a stumble in speech with an inability to think. Around the world we’ve looked to elders for leadership, wisdom, humor, and eloquence. Jimmy Carter, Desmond Tutu, Gandhi, Mother Theresa, Toni Morrison, and Betty White, just to name a few. We hang on their words, even if we have to wait a breath for them to find the right one. They have more to teach us in their dotage than many so-called gurus still wet behind the ears.
Old people entertain us.
From Tony Bennet and Mick Jagger to Judi Dench and Loretta Lynn, down to your gramps who still belts it out on the piano and your favorite little old lady neighbor who keeps you laughing with her stories and renditions of poems, there’s a lifetime of talent in many old people. Look around you at the next holiday bash. Don’t be surprised if the life of the party is the one with the cane and the hearing aid.
Old people inspire us.
Take a look at the roster of writers and artists, poets, and performers producing great work into their sunset years. People who have honed their skills and talents with the sharp blade of experience, who steer us toward our dreams and away from the abyss. Where would I be without the likes of Seamus Heaney and his late work, Iris Apfel, who models at 100, or the unsung writer and critic William (Bill) McConnell who worked until he couldn’t lift the pen anymore at 102. Who’s Bill McConnell you ask? Just an ordinary old person I found on the internet. His local writing group posted his obituary, said he was giving value to the end, just like so many old people you’d never notice if you didn’t look.
Old people raise us.
In this tragic age of senseless gun deaths and the AIDS scourge in Africa and other places, many grandparents are raising their second families, the children of their children who died prematurely. So we have older people and even old people, folks into their late sixties and seventies tackling the issues of childhood, adolescence and late teen years at a time when their patience and physical stamina have worn thin. But fortunately for all involved, this second stage child-rearing comes at time when their aging wisdom and vision is in full bloom, and their hearts are tempered with compassion.
So don’t be afraid of old people.
I won’t sugarcoat old age, when many people find themselves beset with illness and frailty. But an even larger number of us live robust, full lives, and contribute to our families, communities and even the larger world until we’re ready to say our final goodbye. If that doesn’t knock the expectations of youngsters who fear old age as a time of dread, then they just have to wait until they get here and find out how much life they’ll still have left to live.
How many old people do you know who are vibrant and fun? None, you say? Well, kiddo, you’re just not looking. And you’re missing out.
If you’d like more of my take on life, love, and nonsense, take a look:
If You Want To Be Happy, Learn To Be Humble
The wall between arrogance and acceptance is called humility.
Every Mother Is Equal In Heaven
They never got invited to the same glitzy parties, and you’d never guess these two mothers had anything in common
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