Cumberland Times-News

Columns

November 16, 2013

Things to watch out for as you get older

Time goes so fast these days that I have been known to put a couple of years on in less than six months. And it doesn’t even make sense, because theoretically time should go more slowly the older you get. Everything else does — why not time? But it doesn’t seem to work like that. Can someone explain to me please how yesterday got finished while I was still getting up.

OK, here’s something else you can explain to me while you’re at it. How can two generations feel so differently about cooked broccoli? My generation (and those close to it) likes our broccoli soft enough that you can stick a fork into it. The newest experts in cookery like broccoli practically uncooked. The kind that fights back when you try to chew it. I suspect it has a lot to do with vitamins and stuff, because broccoli cooked tender may not have as many, but who cares? (Getting old can make one carefree because everything that is going to happen to one has, largely, happened.) And you can eat more of the stuff if it is soft enough to chew than if you have to do battle every time you take a bite.

Here’s another thing to be leery of as you grow older — standing ovations. I always try not to sit in the two front rows in an auditorium, because they are the last ones to get the word. (And nowadays every stage production gets a standing ovation.) Have you noticed how often those rows are still sitting stolidly in their seats, while the whole theater behind them is on its feet and cheering.

It is so humiliating to suddenly grasp that a standing ovation is happening and you are not a part of it — or worse yet that everybody else in the theater is sitting down just as you are getting up. It can ruin your whole evening and it can’t be too great for the performers either, who are soaking up the applause from all the rows behind yours and wondering what’s wrong with those nitwits in the front didn’t they like it? Nothing’s wrong, of course, except that we just didn’t get the word in time. Maybe there should be a little red light under the stage that goes on when a standing ovation is in the works so we can check behind us early enough not to look like idiots.

Here’s another sign of old age, or, at least, my old age. When I was young — that’s up until about three years ago — I used to cut sandwiches at an angle from corner to corner, resulting in neat little triangular pieces.. Now I cut them straight across, leaving more sensible rectangular pieces and I’m not sure why. I suspect it is because the older you get, the more you cut out the nonsense — because there is no time left for it? I haven’t been able to figure this one out myself, actually.

It shouldn’t have anything to do with the fact that when you get old, you can’t taste things any more. Well, I can still get sweet, and sour, but not much else. I used to love french fries, but now they are just a chore to chew, and the hamburger that goes with them is no better. This is really unfair, because it is only when you get as old as I am that you can actually afford to buy this kind of stuff on a regular basis. I guess I can thank my loss of taste for the fact that I don’t spend near as much on Arby’s or other fast food places, which used to be hard to resist.

Presumably, one good outcome of all this should be that you don’t have to save recipes any more, because you don’t do much cooking, especially if there is only one of you. That, however, hasn’t stopped me from actually collecting them in a drawer — I just don’t use them, that’s all. About the only recipe I put together from time to time is eggplant casserole, which I have always loved. About every two months I will make myself an eggplant casserole, and I must say the taste of that has held up pretty well, even at this late stage.

Being old, of course, has allowed me to enjoy the perks of old age, which include looking with disbelief at some of the goings on of succeeding generations. Now, I know that getting old means you can conveniently forget a lot of the things that you did when you were young. But still, I honestly don’t think that there was, say, a lot of bullying when I went to school. Really, if anybody was going to get bullied in my class, it was me. I was fat, wore glasses, and got good grades. Yet, I have absolutely no memory of anything like that happening, either to me or to anyone else. Of course, there is an argument that I was simply in another world much of that time and didn’t even notice what was going on around me, and there is some truth to that. Still, don’t you think I would have noticed?

These days too there is this fixation on drinking. Now, I realize I was brought up in a teetotaling household, as you have heard many times. My father was a prohibitionist, and although I never discussed this with him, I know he would have been appalled at what young people consider a rite of passage these days — years of getting drunk out of your gourd. This is supposed to lead to maturity, and it is happening to the point where the mayor of Toronto recently excused his taking crack on the fact that he was in a “drunken stupor” at the time — which apparently made everything OK. Everybody gets drunk, right?

Well, getting old has at least one other good result. You can speak out how you feel about anything. Frankly, I see the public acceptance of drunkenness, especially among our young, as a frightening development in our culture. Dad, I’m on your side.

And if the worst thing that can happen is that young people will laugh at me (assuming they can see me) — well, I can handle that. I just won’t notice.

It worked with the bullying.

Maude McDaniel is a Cumberland freelance writer. Her column appears in the Times-News on alternate Sundays.

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