My grandmother, Safta Miri, has been saying that she’s old for well over 30 years. She just turned 96 last January and started thinking about the joys of reaching age 100 while at the same time threatening us with her imminent demise in order to get us to visit. For all her complaining, worrying, and often pessimistic outlook of life, my Safta still goes twice a week to ceramics class, paints, plays Bridge, visit museums, and goes to lectures in the cafe in her Moshav.
My family could make a claim for longevity. In addition to my 96 year-old grandmother, I have a 100 year-old great uncle, Dod Yigal, who also lives in Israel. Another uncle of my grandmother’s passed away just a few years ago at over 100 years old. My Dod Yigal claims his longevity is due to his eternal curiosity. “I always want to know what the new iphone will look like,” he said to me last year. Like my Safta, he also does ceramics, dances, goes to the symphony, and more.
Age 41 might seem incomparably young next to these golden agers, but lately I’ve been feeling awfully old. I look at myself in the mirror and don’t try to count the wrinkles. Even my hair is slowly getting sprinkled with salt. But it’s not really how I look that is having me think of my will, burial plan, and what the next world might be like –my main problem is that I feel old. Partly, I am blaming my early advance into dotage on not exercising and hiking enough for the past three months. I think, however, that this feeling of creeping old age might be an objective fact of life. Yesterday’s excursion to the Fun concert illustrated just how old I’ve become.
If you’re wrinkling your brow and asking “Fun?” stop it right now. Your question shows your age and your facial expression is only making those wrinkles more likely to last. Fun is a rock band. They make noise and call it music and have a lot of fans. I hated the loudness: the shrieking of the guitars, the screaming of the singer, the positively frenzied beating of the drum. I hated the lemming syndrome that had nearly 10,000 people pumping their arms high in the air at the same time.
I loved that my son sat next to me, that he wanted to share his favorite songs. I loved how he sang with passion when “Some Nights” came on. I loved his arm around me or my arm around his shoulders, that he leaned into me. I loved how he tries to protect me sometimes.
I felt old at the concert, out of sync with the times, but what made me feel truly old came when we started walking back to the car. The doors, porches and sidewalks of Berkeley’s frat houses were filled with partying young people. I don’t know what the boys were wearing — regular clothes, I think. But the girls… the girls…. The feminist revolution had not, I think, yet reached the frat-house corners of the Berkeley campus. The girls were wearing what I can only describe as Victoria’s Secret nighties. Except more skimpy and with high heels.
I am too old for fun, my friends. My daughter is 10, and she is not going to college — I don’t think I can allow it, at least not before she turns 54. And me? Well, I am not going to any more concerts. My ear drums still hurt, and though we went to sleep at 1am, I still woke up at my almost regular 6:30am. I need my sleep, my bed, my anti-wrinkle cream. I need peace and quiet and tranquility and no screaming band in my ears. And I would so much rather girls didn’t dress the way they do, that they respected their bodies and didn’t even realize that they could use them to attract attention. But perhaps I am too naive and too old. What do I know?