In which Chicken reveals what Oprah and Dr. Oz have never explained about the process of growing old…

Hi World,

I am 47-years-old.  I recently realized that I’m past half-time.  If I were a Gordon Lightfoot song, my title would be, “On the Fall side of Life”.  Not the summer.  Some of you will get that.  Some of you will say, “Gordon who?”.  And those of you saying, “Gordon who?”…you are the ones who should keep reading.  For the rest of you…I’m telling the secret we all know.

Who knows how I landed on this subject.  Maybe it was the “gray hair” conversation I recently had with a dear friend that I’ve shared everything with for the last 32 years. Maybe it was the the realization that I’ve had a best friend for 32 years.  Maybe it was the “down there” self-examination that took place after the gray hair conversation….

But I’ve been thinking a lot about aging.

The manuals on aging are good at telling you how your body will react to this process and how to relieve the symptoms of aging, how to take care of yourself, and what your various medicinal choices are, complete with pros and cons. 

There is one thing the manuals don’t tell you.

They don’t tell you that your soul will never catch up to your brain. 

You can look in the mirror and see the evidence that you are not 22, but as soon as you leave the mirror, your soul will forget.  And not only that, but your soul will take over when you are shopping for clothes, listening to music, dancing in your kitchen or anywhere else, talking to your kids, or having dinner out with friends.  Let go of your mindfulness for one second, and your soul will take over at the wheel.

Your soul doesn’t get it.

This is why you sometimes will prance by a big store window wearing your recently purchased stilletos and cute capris, or maybe some  fashionable peg leg jeans and flats, or, in some situations, your favorite ironic t-shirt.  Whatever it is that you are wearing, when you left your house you felt comfortable.  But.  Without any warning whatsoever, your peripheral vision catches a bit of light, causing you to turn your head toward the window, where your eyes take in, and immediately transfer to your brain, a horrifying truth.

You may feel 22, but you sure don’t look it. 

And you know this.  Jesus H. Christ, you KNOW this.  You look in the mirror every morning and see your face.  You know your birth date.  You know your childrens’ birth dates.  You can recite every line of Moon Dance.  You are that guy who shouts “Freebird” at concerts.

Well, hopefully, you are not that guy.  But when that guy shouts “Free Bird” you laugh and think, right ON, brother! 

Your soul is non-apologetic. It wants to hear Free Bird.  But it also secretly enjoys Lady Gaga, and that yearning for a meat dress is how your soul gets you every time.

Your soul will punk you out like no tommorrow any chance it gets.  Because…

Your soul will never accept that it is aging forwards.  It only goes backwards. 

Your soul may settle at 30 for months, trying to hang out at Starbucks and nail down the complicated lingo, but suddenly, you’ll be at a Flower and Garden show and some guy will be demonstrating remote controlled helicopters.  Your brain will register that remote controlled helicopters really have nothing to do with flowers or gardens, but your 4-year-old will be running after that helicopter with a maniacal laugh, throwing up his arms, and talking to everyone in the quickly gathering audience, looking at the remote control controller guy like he is God, and suddenly everyone in the crowd that has gathered to witness the joy of being four IS four, including you.  And suddenly, you don’t want a complicated coffee drink, you want that helicopter.  In red.

Of course you immediately buy this $60 piece of modern robotics technology, like the impulsive 4-year-old you are, only to soon realize that it doesn’t really work well with your 8-foot ceilings, and it is not really a toy for a four-year-old, even though he will be single-minded in his pursuit of the remote controller until you finally get exhausted and say it is broken and hide it, only to bring it out at a gathering of your also old friends months later, whereupon all the men in the audience will revert to the age of 4 and want a turn, and all the women will sip their cosmopolitans and giggle about how immature men are without ever really getting that their cosmopolitans, which feel so naughty and hip, just like Carrie and her posse, are already as antiquated as the Manhattans our mothers sipped back in the day when their souls were 30(ish).  Actually, Manhattans are cooler, because they are retro.  I picture hipsters sitting around drinking Manhattans and showing off their cherry stem tongue tying skills.  At my next party, I’m definitely serving Manhattans, and maybe, also, that drink involving mashing bitters withs sugar and stuff.  What are they called?  Oh yeah, Old Fashioneds.   Anyway, hopefully, your four-year-old is asleep when this all takes place.  Particularly, when someone gets the idea of climbing into the hot tub, which, if you have one, will certainly happen, after helicopter flying and cosmos. 

But I digress.  Back to my soul.  I mean your soul.  I mean, I hope, our souls. 

When you were  22 in real time, did you swear that you would never be one of those women that didn’t age gracefully?  That wore skirts too short, or heels too high, or a hairstyle that was too young?  I did. I was sure that I would be a woman who would accept the passage of time gracefully.  Get a sensible bob.  Accept my changing body.  Give up all my vices.  I expected this all to start happening around 40.

At my fortieth birthday party, thrown by my many siblings and parents, I wore a white t-shirt and levis.  I remember a carved-wood necklace ensemble of which I was especially proud.  My hair was past my shoulders and heavily highlighted.  In the photos, I’m grinning excitedly, surrounded by family, clutching a bottle of Budweiser (not in an ironic way) and wearing a trucker hat announcing that, hey, I’m 40.  But really?  I was 20. 

Because that is just the way my soul rolls. 

World, take care of your soul.  Except for the occasional store window come-uppance, there is not really a downside to feeling young.  Particularly when you consider the alternative.

Chicken out

  27 comments for “In which Chicken reveals what Oprah and Dr. Oz have never explained about the process of growing old…

  1. March 7, 2011 at 1:24 am

    aaahh, you hit the nail on the head. Gordon Lightfoot. I love that guy. Reminds me of my high school days. sun down, you better take care.


  2. March 7, 2011 at 2:28 am

    This comment has been removed by the author.


  3. March 7, 2011 at 8:52 am

    I can honestly and truthfully say that when I was 22, I never swore that I would be one of those women that aged gracefully. Well, that's only because I'm a guy of the male persuasion mind you. On the other hand, it was about that time that my dad's joke of 'you're not old until you find gray hairs 'down there'' stopped being funny. At all.
    P.S. We need a new drink. I would call it Tiger Blood. If you add Tequila, you call it topping it off with Adonis DNA. Yeah.


  4. March 7, 2011 at 11:09 am

    Yeah, and if you top it with Chivas, you call that, Trumping it up! I hope some young Hollywood bartender is paying attention here.


  5. March 7, 2011 at 11:11 am

    Hi Dazee-although when Sundown does come around, my laugh lines get a little softer, which isn't an entirely bad thing.


  6. March 7, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    My soul wants to wear overalls and pigtails.


  7. March 7, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    I do look 22. I do. I am going to wear my Pajama Jeans today and prove it to you.


  8. March 7, 2011 at 4:40 pm

    My dad loves Gordon Lightfoot! (Although that probably isn't helping you right now.)

    And did you read my Free Bird post? My husband is the Free Bird guy.


  9. March 7, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    What a fantastic post! I was discussing with my friends last week how we're stuck at a certain age in our minds (but I guess it's in our souls) and mine is 27…Good. Freaking. Times.

    I am going to go and give me soul some ice cream, because she bloody well earned it…


  10. March 7, 2011 at 5:00 pm

    @Elly-my soul and your soul? Soul mates…
    @BB-and will you wear them with a Hello Kitty t-shirt? Because I know you can totally pull that off Betty.
    @Cecelia: Yeah, me and your Dad and Dazee are all going to go to Gordon's next concert together. We're going to get totally baked, first, though. So that's your husband! He always makes me smile. I have to go back and read that one-I think I missed it.
    @Loridyan-My soul would also like some ice cream. My soul switches ages quite a bit-the only age I know for sure that it isn't is 47.
    Of course, that might change when I get to be 77.


  11. March 7, 2011 at 6:19 pm

    I love this! Deep, wonderful, non-depressing, thoughts like this are why I looove to hang around people who are wiser than me.
    This post makes me feel comfortable. Like being wrapped up in a favorite blanket with a hot favorite drink snuggled up next to your favorite person.


  12. March 7, 2011 at 7:25 pm

    And being 21 right Ashes? On the couch, snuggled up with your favorite person and 21.


  13. March 7, 2011 at 9:37 pm

    every night is saturday night according to my soul. and right about now it's time for a cosmo. or a cool whiskey-drink that requires a highly-trained bartender to whip up.


  14. March 7, 2011 at 10:50 pm

    Hi PP. My soul knows someone like that. We'll be right over


  15. March 8, 2011 at 4:22 am

    When I was 22, I worked in a plastic surgeon's office. I swore I would fight the effects of time every step of the way.
    Until I can afford such a thing, I stay away form mirrors. My soul is quite content to be 22 years old. She doens't need to see the bags under my eyes and the grey hairs down there, thank you very much!


  16. March 9, 2011 at 12:09 am

    Awesome post! You are so, so right!!!


  17. March 10, 2011 at 1:56 am

    Sandra, I've seen the facebook pics-you are rocking the bod that 22-year-olds strive for. Just keep rolling on with your bad self.

    Misssyyyyy! Hi there-nice to see you back here and thank you.


  18. March 11, 2011 at 9:35 am

    My soul is 28, best year of my life–back in school, both kids toilet trained, hot body….sigh…I hate Hate HATE store windows. Yes, the bathroom mirror shows me someone I don't really think I am. But, as soon as I turn away and view the world, the world looks the same as when I was 18…another good year–just before I met the ex. It was a very good year. I love Gordon Lightfoot. Great post.My soul needed that. Thanks.


  19. March 11, 2011 at 8:04 pm

    I'm not 21…. I'm 23… *silly smile*


  20. March 12, 2011 at 1:06 am

    Hi PracticalP. We all seem to have a favorite age to reflect back on, don't we? I think mine was 32, but really, I had a lot of good years. My hope is that the best years are still ahead of me and that I recognize them when they are happening, not in hindsight. I love GL too:-)

    Ashes: Yes, but perhaps your soul is still 21:-)


  21. March 12, 2011 at 3:21 am

    Psh! I'm 13 on the inside… sometimes 15 if I'm trying to be mature. *haha* (why get any older when it's so much fun to giggle incessantly at the kissing scenes in movies?)


  22. Anonymous
    March 17, 2011 at 2:18 am

    The only reason I know how old I am is because I still remember the year I was born and I can compute the (still somewhat) simple math. I do (in my soul) still think I'm 28, I never want to be 22 again (making poverty wages, working 60 hours a week on a slow week, no insurance…) no, I'd like to make the wages of someone in their 40s but live and look like I did when I was 28. That, of course, would mean giving up the kids…so okay, that might be a deal breaker…might…only because today was a good day for kids, lots of hugs/little yelling. Tomorrow I might gladly trade them in for Lynyrd Skynyrd festival seating tickets.

    Good post Chicken!



  23. March 17, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    CB-I kinda liked 30-35 range. Maybe I'll stay there.


  24. March 20, 2011 at 11:07 pm

    Nothing wrong with not aging willfully.
    It's bad enough the younger ones think that past forty you're some sort of walking corpse.
    People consist of someting deeper than age.
    All relativity included.
    Any age can be cool depending on the person, but staying with your inner youth will keep you healthy.


  25. March 29, 2011 at 5:30 am

    I LOVE THIS ONE. I LOVE IT. You so eloquently described how I feel on a daily basis, vacillating from one end to the other.

    “…Without any warning whatsoever, your peripheral vision catches a bit of light, causing you to turn your head toward the window, where your eyes take in, and immediately transfer to your brain, a horrifying truth.

    You may feel 22, but you sure don't look it.”

    This made me smile and cry at the same time. First time I read it. Now I am doing it again.


  26. March 29, 2011 at 5:31 am

    Oh by the way…

    FREE BIRDDDD!!!!!!!!!


  27. April 2, 2011 at 3:15 am

    Carlos: “People consist of something deeper than age”. Thank you. What a beautiful thing to say.

    AA-FREEEBirrrrd. I know, right? As usual, we are in sync.


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