Torture Devices Of The Middle Aged

an ancient treadmill
An old-fashioned treadmill

The next birthday party I throw for myself will have a theme of The Middle Ages, as it is nearly as pleasurable being middle aged as I imagine it would be to try and avoid the plague and carry a nosegay to inhibit the odeurs. It stinks.

It hit me in a panic that I am middle aged. Like that thing you left on the counter for so long it seems to belong there, and one day you see it with new eyes and know you ought to do something about it. What do I do with this?

We women are supposed to discreetly bear the discomfort and have all signs of aging erased, injected, peeled, and lifted while the most beautiful women in Hollywood – goddesses really – have men who cheat.

What about us mortals? Parts of me have already begun to go South even as I’m twenty years from retirement age. We are pressured to stay young looking and not go soft in the middle while men in our age group are sporting pot bellies and baseball caps to cover their thinning hair. (I really loathe baseball caps on grown men. Unless of course, one is playing baseball.)

Then there is the whole “staying fit” trend and its torchbearer, the treadmill. It is the modern equivalent of being tied to a post and being forced to walk in circles to make a mill wheel turn. You go no where, and occasionally glance at the person next to you and silently ask, “Has it really come to this?”

For whom are we gripping on to the last evidence of our youth? Ah yes. Ourselves.

The Fortress & Its Accutrement (online dating)

It’s been too long to admit since my divorce, and yet I’ve still not found a new man. I, as some of us do, built a sort of wall, or fortress around myself to heal from the heartbreak. For a long while now I’ve been ready for a new love, and I want to let the right man in, to tear it down, I truly do. It gets awfully lonely in here, and I’d much prefer to transform this fortress into a love nest than stay here alone one more day. But it’s a one brick down, two bricks up process. Here’s why:

I went on exactly one date with a cute guy, exactly my age, who loves to smoke cigs exactly as much as me. One brick down.

Over our first drink he told me exactly why his marriage failed, exactly what was wrong with their sex life, and exactly how his father abused him. I should have left after the first drink, but he was cuuute. I thought he was just nervous.

After the second drink he attempted to molest me. When I pushed him away he tried to change my mind by showing me his penis. In public. It looked exactly like a pencil. A golf pencil. Two bricks up.

Before Pencil was a guy eleven years younger than I. One brick down. You may think a man who would date a woman eleven years older may have a “mother complex”. Well, he did not. I know he did not because he told me so several times. Without being asked. It actually hadn’t even occurred to me until he brought it up. He brought it up right after telling me stories about his mother and her lack of mothering skills. Two bricks up.

I have a volume of stories like this I could tell you but you get the point. I will never use an online dating site again. Ever. I would have a more pleasant evening at home in my fortress self-flagellating with a scourge. Less scarring too.

Then there are the childless batchelors. I spell it that way because I batch them all together in the Do Not Date category. The batchelors I’ve dated seem to have had their emotional maturity arrested in their twenties. They have very little in common with those of us who were committed to The Institution Of Marriage & Family, wherefrom you emerge as if it were a time machine. You step out one day, blinking at the brightness of the sun, with a few gray hairs, un petit bagage, and the faded dreams of your youth. You wonder where your life went and if you still have the time – or the energy – for a do-over.

One of the most painful torture devices of The Middle Aged is known in modern times as “Teenagers”. This is just too graphic to describe here without bringing tears to my eyes, and may give you nightmares. If you’ve ever experienced this you belong to a very exclusive club of survivors, and truly, my heart goes out to you.

I have a theory that gray hair, eye bags, and wrinkles are not in fact, caused by the passage of time, but this savage “Teenagers” and its kin, “Adult Children”. Those willful beings who never let you forget you know nothing, understand nothing, and can do nothing helpful for them except give them money.

We of the Middle Aged should start our own exclusive club. We can gather annually to share our stories over cocktails and a charcuterie and compare the distance from our arse to the floor to last years’ measurement. It would be an early night, to be sure, but we do turn in earlier these days, don’t we?

Who knows? Maybe I’d meet a man who can so something about all these bricks. It would make being middle aged much less tortuous.

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