May 4, 2019 by phicks2012
The other day I made what was for me a normal statement that had a grocery store check-out clerk asking me to repeat myself. The statement was “otherwise, I’m together”. When I repeated myself she started laughing, apologized, and then said she simply hadn’t expected that to come out of my mouth. I’m not sure why, but she was a twenty-something and I’m guessing she somehow wasn’t expecting an “older person” to use that phrase. WOW! And here I didn’t even know it was some sort of “youth idiom”!! Is it?
When I chat with strangers on-line and don’t mention my age, they typically assume I’m 20-30 or even 40 years younger than I am, probably (I’m assuming) because of my outlook, my word use and vocabulary, and my use of current idiom, but who knows. I don’t. However, since I have friends spanning the age-gamut I pick up vernacular and idiom from all of them, and use it, and my sense of humor has a certain fluidity as well. Because a tend to keep up with pop culture references and have a disturbing memory for comedic movie dialogue I tend to pick up on such things in conversation, laughing at the appropriate cues and frequently then running with the ball. As a result, I seem frequently to be a surprise to strangers (such as the grocery check-out clerk) simply because of the things I say and find amusing. I have no problem with that, and in fact tend to find it hilarious.
I also have a far more liberal outlook (in general) than many people my age — an unfortunate number of whom have migrated into the arch conservative ranks with age and have totally given up on creative or critical thinking. The terms cranky, crotchety, and cantankerous all too often have become relevant, and when they aren’t yelling at kids to get off their lawns they’re collecting state spoons, or talking at length about their bowels. Side note* Although I have been known to rhapsodize (note the sarcasm here) about the joys of my first colonoscopy, I have mainly dwelt upon the utter nastiness of the preparatory drink rather than upon the logistics and details of the test itself, so I must INSIST that this does not qualify as “discussing my bowels”.
I actually can’t relate to people my own age if they’ve made a habit (as my mother did for many years) of hanging out only with the same temporal contemporaries. Cultural isolation is too often equivalent to stagnation. The scope of recurring conversation narrows such that people talk about the same things constantly and lose their ability to step beyond those boundaries. Narrow opnions and habits are reinforced, and there is little impetus to modify or to change.
I’ve tried on many occasions to reestablish ties with friends from years past, and some of them remain interesting and entertaining people, Thank God, but others — it’s as though they put their personalities into cold storage (or better yet, mothballs) years ago and simply never took them out again. Five minutes of conversation tells me that they haven’t tried anything new or interesting in decades, and that they don’t actually understand a word I’m saying. I might as well be speaking Swedish, or Klingon, or Dothraki.
So what is “age appropriate” for a person of my vintage? Should I be crocheting antimacassars, knitting pastel cardigans, hoarding cats, and peering through blinds at neighbors (assuming I had any near enough to be visible without the use of drones) or is it still okay to write novels, draw comic strips, post silly selfies and stories to Facebook, quote Monty Python or Princess Bride, and to have a warped sense of humor?
What do you think?