DO YOU LOOK YOUR AGE?
Last month my wife and I were on a Road Scholar trip in Europe and we were having dinner with a Japanese woman. We got to talking about age and she asked how old I was. “Seventy” I replied, thinking of Gloria Steinem’s apt phrase, “This is how 70 looks.” Our dinner partner said to me, “No! You don’t look 70 at all,” and I instantly felt a tinge of pride at my good health, appearance, and vitality. Then she quickly added, “But then, Caucasians never do look their age.” I instantly felt an encounter with reality.
The incident reminded me of the time I turned 65 and had my first chance to get the senior discount at a museum. As I went up to the cashier I fumbled for my driver’s license, expecting to be “carded” to prove my eligibility. Before I could reach into my pocket, the cashier said, “Don’t bother. You clearly qualify.” Once again, “reality therapy” for gerontologists, How do I do Morris, who used to tell me “I feel like I’m 18 inside.”
The truth is doctors get sick, funeral directors die, and gerontologists grow old. I once convened the first symposium on plastic surgery at a gerontological conference: “Face Lifts and Tummy Tucks in an Aging Society.” It was also the last symposium of its kind. Some topics in aging we just want to avoid. I get the impression that many of us in the “field of aging” don’t want to talk much about our own attitudes toward what it means to look, or to feel, our age. It’s a conversation we ought to be having.
See “This Is What 80 Looks Like” at: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/23/opinion/sunday/collins-this-is-what-80-looks-like.html?_r=0