Am I Old Yet?

Yup, I am officially an Elder. It was announced in the last couple weeks. First a young waitress called me “Sweetie.” Then when handing me my annual fair gyros, the vendor said, “Here you are, My Dear.” And yesterday when I called to make a doctor’s appointment, the nurse ended the call with “Honey.”

No one (much less a stranger) in my previous life as an adult has ever used such endearments to address me. I can only attribute it to my being 75 and it’s “safe” (or is it patronizing?).

P.S. When I was in pre-op before hip surgery a nurse told me I was a “poor imitation of a 75 year old.” Have I aged that much since May?

How do you mark the various stages of your life?

50 thoughts on “Am I Old Yet?”

  1. Well, that’s curious, Cynthia. I recall being aghast when I first arrived in this country at the age of 22 being called honey by the nurses at the hospital at F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheynne. I didn’t take it as a term of endearment, but rather as a way of not having to deal with me as an individual.

    I also remember, as a 60 year old, having to deal with a twenty year younger sales rep for a food company who insisted on calling me “young lady.” I asked him not to, and told him that I found it condescending, but he kept doing it. I switched vendors; fixed his ass.

    These days, at 74 and retired, I find that I don’t really pay that much attention to what people call me.

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    1. Your reading of people’s intent is a little stiffer than mine. The waitress in Arkansas who asks “Ya want sugar with that, hon?” is probably calling me a pet name in order to indicate she is friendly. She is signalling that, while she doesn’t know me, she assumes our relationship will be friendly.

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    2. I don’t recall ever being called such “endearments” once I became an adult…or a teen. Even by my family. My father called me “Duke” (he always wanted a boy, my sister called herself “Bob”). My uncle (7 years older) called me “Carrot Top” or “Rooster” (red hair then). So it has become a bit disconcerting, these patronizing “endearments”, especially in such a short space of time.

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    1. Hi Baboons.

      Surely calling people Baboons is an age thing.

      I am back at home with a Really Big Bandage on my leg. I had a radioactive veinal ablation today (removal of varicose vein that has been getting blood clots when I fly). I am headed to Ireland in a month, and wanted to be proactive about preventing this again. Thankfully it is now a same day surgery with lighter anasthesia that larger surgeries ( although this used to be a big, intrusive procedure). So glad it is over. Impressive bruising, though.

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  2. Cynthia…you have not aged since May…unless one can age backward! You looked (and walked) younger AFTER surgery. Perhaps those condescending or endearing labels were simply coincidence…ie.…you’d simply never run up against persons who used those addresses?

    When we lived in Texas “Honey” & “Sweetie” was a regular address. “My dear” is something husband calls me usually when goofing about something or when doing something for me that he knew I’d wanted done. “Young lady” was an address I used with daughter when upset or being firm as to some family rule. I’ve also used Y.L.when seeing someone who has grown much and no longer seems a little girl. I’ve never been called Y.L.…but I’ve never been a person who would be considered a Lady…too much a tomboy. Husband said the only time he’d seen me in a dress was on our wedding day-not true but it does illustrate how seldom he remembers me wearing a dress.

    My flight last spring from Az to home…I was greeted with a wheel chair at the Phoenix airport. I hadn’t requested but husband had. I actually feel treated like royalty assisted all the way to my plane….and greeted by name when I arrived in MPLS and taken all the way to my luggage. I suppose since I don’t think about age (other than physical limitations) I don’t feel old. The courtesy extended me as a ‘Sr. Citizen’…I accept with a bit of a sense of humor but also some appreciation.

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  3. I have been known to use “m’dear” when I might have otherwise used a gendered word – a habit I picked up from others who are looking for ways to move away from using gender-specific words (like “sir” or “ma’am” or “miss,” for instance).

    I am, it appears, now one of those slightly invisible women of a certain age – I am a safe, matronly presence when that is needed, the unexpected voice of activism (should I be home knitting or something?), and no longer flirted with by most anyone (except the nice gay bartender at the orchestra who isn’t really flirting). At first I was put out by my invisibility – people looking past and through me in public – but when I realized I could use this as a super power for the second option (raising my voice for equity and fairness), well then I plan to use that super power with or without a cape.

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  4. I was following a hot young woman out of a store, thinking of all the filthy things I’d like to do with her on a mattress, when she held the door ajar and offered, “Here you go, sir!” Who knew how devastating that word could be? SIR! 😦

    The first time I was stabbed in the heart by an ageism phrase was when my doctor explained why my right knee had gone wonky. His sentence started with the dreaded words, “When a man reaches a certain age . . .”

    Here in eastern Michigan I have acquired a new name. I am “Bud.” It is not an honorific, for any male here is Bud. “Ya wanna hop up on the exam table Bud?” At least it is not a reflection of my age. “Ya wanna hop up on the exam table Pops?” That would really hurt.

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    1. I use “Sir” to thank any age male stranger when they do something nice for me like holding a door open. For females of any age, I use “Ma’am.” i think it has a nice rhythm when said enthusiastically. (Well, for any age…probably not for children under 12)

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    2. Speaking of the term ‘Pops’, we have a cousin who always called his dad ‘Pops’. I never used it. Until my dad died. Nowadays, when I stop in the cemetery, for some reason, I call him ‘Pops’ now. Weird.

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  5. Around here, the local thrift store – Savers – has, on Tuesdays, 40% off everything for folks who are “55 or better” (Those are their words, not mine. I can’t quite bring myself to call ages 60, 65, 70, etc. “better” than 55.) The first few times I used this discount I got some looks and comments of disbelief. Well, no longer. Just last week, when I said that I get the discount, the cashier said “Uh huh,” in a tone of voice that clearly meant “Duh…you didn’t have to tell me that.”

    But ever since I went back to school a couple years ago, I’m trying to not let my age limit me too much. I have to make some allowances physically, though I’m working at getting myself back in shape – knowing that I will never be as good as when I was 25, but hoping that I can walk around not feeling old. Maybe I can be surprised when I look in the mirror and see my sagging eyes instead of feeling that’s what I expect to see. Two years ago when I was debating whether to go to school to study photography, this little voice kept saying, “You’re too old to go to school.” But I countered it with, “Well, I’m alive so I might as well learn some new things.” I keep trying to have that attitude now, even though I’m a school dropout.

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    1. youll never be as good as 25? gosh i am so much better than when i was 25
      i thought i was hot stuff but i was in la la land

      luckily i now have me feet firmly placed on the ground and my head pulled completely out of the aforementioned dark spot

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  6. Several years ago we ordered a pizza. When we picked it up, the name at the top indicating who the order was for said ‘Little old lady’. Ouch. And that was by phone even. That one hurt.

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    1. there is a indiran (bombay) guy on sunday morning roundtable who has a voice that i swear is a woman every time. i do it every time . when you watch him talk it is a voice that matches him perfectly but when i hear him i am often doing a web surfing multi tasking sunday morning thing and it gets me again.
      when i watch you talk ben i hardly notice you sound like a little old lady at all

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  7. I am just under the age to get the senior discount at my neighborhood grocery store, but some of the clerks will automatically give it to me anyway. I’ve also, from time to time, run into one of those liquor store cashiers who will make a little performance of asking for my I.D. and calling me “young lady”. None of that bothers me.

    I sometimes think of my life as bisected by my mother’s death. I was 45 at the time. When my mother was living, she would often give me cute pajamas for my birthday. I think she always saw me as just out of my teens. One of the adjustments I had to make after her death was knowing that no one would ever give me cute pajamas again, or see me in that way. Even today it puts a distance between me and the young person I was.

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  8. I have been in a holding pattern in life for about 28 years, starting when we moved here. We will have a new chapter when we leave here.

    OT-I got up at 4:30 today to drive to Bismarck for a meeting. When I got there, I found that the meeting had been cancelled and no one told me. I was so steamed I threw my purse in the parking lot. I drove home. I love driving 200 miles before work!

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    1. theres got to be a cunning way to get even without costing the state a lot of money but making a good point.
      next time you leave for a meeting at the early hours call the person who should have called you this time to double check if its still on

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  9. I’m afraid I have been marking the stages according to what parts of the body have deteriorated. It started with the hammertoes, which have caused the shape of my foot to change and now I need wider shoes, and can no longer walk distances .Then the right hip… I’ll stop there.

    I’m afraid I am also one of the people who will occasionally call some stranger “honey”, but it’s usually when they have inadvertently done something they’ll be distressed about, and it’s more like “Oh, honey, don’t worry about it.” It happens so fast I can’t edit…

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  10. Remember going to bars and being ‘carded’? it was such a pain. Now we’d Love to be ‘carded’!
    I’m 53 and I’ve been getting AARP magazines for several years. I have no intention of looking at them AT LEAST until I’m 65.
    We joke about having supper early and getting the Early Bird Special.
    I fully believe everything in life has made us what we are today. But I wish I could have my 25 yr old knees back. And even my 30 yr old wrists would be OK. (Carpel Tunnel surgery sometime in September but doing the ‘micro’ surgery so should be easy??).
    I’m Ok with getting called ‘Sir’.
    Love going to a diner and being called ‘Sweetie’ or ‘Honey’ or ‘Hon’. Makes me feel special… I guess I’m that superficial…

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  11. So, today cleaning up the log cabin exhibit after the fair, 2 of us 70-ish women, lifting and carrying various items of various sizes and weights while a 30-ish man stood and watched us for a half hour or so. Never offered to help. So maybe I’m not so elderly after all…in a younger person’s mind.

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  12. Age, and the perception of it, both from the inside looking out and from the outside looking in, is a relative and subjective concept. I feel like I’m getting worse at guessing people’s ages. Oftentimes, when sitting with a group of people, I am startled to realize that I am the oldest person by a significant margin. Many times it suddenly occurs to me that a person I had been regarding as old is in fact younger than I am. When I am away from mirrors and alone, I feel just as I always have—like myself.

    I think we tend to have a more-or-less fixed subconscious age, a reference point where we feel or felt most fully like ourselves. It’s the age we assume when we are dreaming. When we haven’t seen old friends or acquaintances for decades, we picture them as we last saw them or as they were when we were at our “ideal” age. I personally find it more painful to see my friends aging than to see it in myself. To be honest, I don’t always see it in myself. Mirrors are not objective.

    At the same time, my rational side looks at where I am and ahead to what would be a reasonable lifespan and I calculate what I still have time to do. Every year it’s a little bit less, and that’s barring any dramatic physical decline. I am already older than either of my grandfathers managed. When you get to the point where you are thinking how you can make best use of a limited number of years, I’d say you qualify as old.

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  13. I mark them by annual physicals. My cadillac healthcare plan allows for these checkups. Why keeping up with the basics of keeping me healthy should be fined, I don’t know but in any case my doctor (whom I kept, Thanks former President Obama) keeps beating me up for not eating enough vegies. One of these days I am going to take her word for it.

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  14. I suppose you could mark stages in your life by the college insignia or sports teams your wear on you clothes. I am now supplementing my Concordia gear with SDSU Jackrabbit shirts. Son and DIL work at SDSU in Brookings.

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