sixtiestosixties

I was something in the 60s but now I'm just sixty something.

Jigglin’ Zumba

Shea

Remember when we were young and horribly critical of our bodies? What the hell were we thinking? Those bodies were strong, smooth, and for the most part they worked.  Don’t you wish you could go back and say to your younger self,  “Hey,you’re looking pretty good. Stop being so hard on yourself and enjoy what you’ve got.” And yes, that goes for you men too. This is not a gender issue. I remember those Atlas mail order tension bands that were supposed to turn 97 pound weaklings into muscle men.  Those ads were not aimed at the proud and secure.

I’ve belonged to one kind of gym or another since my late 20s. I started exercising to keep my weight down but to be honest it didn’t always work. ( I learned the hard way that you actually have to stick with the program and not eat a whole sleeve of Oreos for lunch.)  Now I exercise so I can get out of bed in the morning. Mornings can hurt. It’s a battle to stay ahead of the wave.

There have been all kinds of fitness movements over the years and I’m pretty sure I have tried them all. The current rage is Zumba . (If you don’t know about Zumba then you must be sleeping through the night and missing all the 3 a.m. infomercials.) I have to admit that I love Zumba! It’s not just a great workout, it’s fun.  When I look around the room though, I’m pretty sure I’m the oldest one in the class. That’s ok. Somebody has to take the honors and it might as well be me. I actually do a fair job of keeping up unless we have to do hip hop moves. Hip hop totally confuses me.

My Zumba instructor, Shea, has a routine to the song “Jigglin’ “.  She looked real hard to find us a clean version because  unlike “Louie, Louie”, the real version of “Jigglin’ ” is filthy. Still, it’s got a good beat and you can dance to it. According to Shea, if you keep jiggling when you stop, then you know you’re doing it right. Hey, no problem. I excel at this. Did she mean arms too?  Despite what she says, I’m a little concerned that if I’m still jiggling perhaps I shouldn’t be doing this in public.

The majority of the women in my class are at least 20 years younger than me. That should make me self-conscious but quite frankly, they can’t keep the jiggle going nearly as well as I can.  Their butts are still too firm and implanted breasts just don’t move as freely as the ones we had to grow on our own.  But even with all the cosmetic help available these days, I sense that most women are still not entirely comfortable shaking their ass all over the gym.  Shea helps us through this with cheers and high fives for provocative moves. She makes us laugh and we love her for this. I really have no idea how ridiculous I must look.  Nor do I care. And for me, that’s the best part of the class…letting go of my inhibitions…finally.

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The Big Drool

Boomers unite! There needs to be a better solution for the care of the elderly before the baby boomers start needing assistance. Today’s facilities simply will not meet our need for sex, drugs, and rock and roll.  We all know what will happen if we’re not satisfied. We will protest and riot, maybe stage a sit in if we think we can get back up. We’re liable to burn our Depends and medicare cards or barricade the administration office with our wheelchairs. I know some people who are likely to wander around naked like it’s Woodstock. If you thought it looked bad then, you surely don’t want to see it now.

Hell, no! We won’t go!

I’ve visited many care facilities over the years. Most of us have been around one to visit our parents. In case you’ve missed out on this opportunity there’s still time to go before they won’t let you back out.  My favorites are those designed for memory care. The people living there always seem to be on the go. Too bad they haven’t got a clue where they’re going. There is one thing they are sure of;  someone is stealing their underwear. ‘Cause, you know, it’s so sexy.

The baby boomers will more likely still be trying to get into someone’s underwear even if we won’t remember what to do if we get there.

I’m sure our families will eventually have to do something with us. They’ll try to lure us into agreement with the promise of good drugs and the possibility of  medical marijuana. Don’t be duped! Weed would be good but it’s only a start. Remember, we will never admit to being old so we need some changes to keep our delusion alive.

Seriously?

We might be OK with the entertainment if they kick it up a notch. Boomers love rock and roll and today’s facilities do have live music. As it is now, everybody sits around and sings the popular songs from their youth along with the piano. You know what this means when we start moving in.  We’re going to be sitting around drooling and singing “Louie Louie”. But which version? Does anybody even know the real words?  Personally, I think the activities directors will need to trade in the day room piano for a Fender Strat and a set of Slingerland drums.

We were the first generation raised on TV and we will be expecting flat screens and premium channels. I’m not sure what we will watch but it won’t be “Wheel of Fortune”. I haven’t watched that since my parents died but I think I am beginning  to understand the appeal. The letters are big enough to read and there is a lot of loud noise so you are bound to hear something. Anyone have any ideas what show might become the favorite of our generation?

Most places now have movie night but I don’t think they serve popcorn. There are good reasons for this but I won’t go into them…they’re gross. I have no idea what they show these days. PG ratings I presume. What would you think of demanding soft porn night once  in a while  just for old time’s sake?  Maybe we’ll be able to get the staff to pass out that promised medical marijuana and we can watch“Fantasia”.

Bingo just isn’t going to cut it for us either. We’ll more likely want casino  night afternoon. Roulette and poker tables should be easy to wheel around.  And there will need to be an open bar. I’m not big on juice.

Remember the old keggers? Let’s plan on having big bashes in the courtyard on warm summer nights. Maybe some of the underwear thieves will get busy in the bushes.

Yes,there definitely needs to be an elder care overhaul before we start showing up en masse at the door. We should probably start this revolution now before we’re too tired.

As for me, if I don’t see some major changes I’ve got a back up plan. (Kind of like Canada). My son once jokingly told me if I start acting like his grandma he’s going to take me for a long ride in the desert. I made him promise.

Now we’re talking!

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Losing Face via Bell’s Palsy

Signing on to Captain Hook's crew.
Aarrgghh matey!

I interpret the idiom “lost face” to mean being humiliated in public. This has happened to me on many occasions, usually by my own doing. I never gave much thought to the expression until I came down with Bell’s Palsy, a condition that causes facial paralysis. At first I looked kind of like a Picasso painting only much less colorful. Most people fully recover in a few weeks. I have what is referred to as a “less than optimal recovery”. Translation, my face is always going to be a freak show. I have literally lost my face. Having recently moved to a new town I was eager to meet new people and make some friends. Let’s just say I wasn’t making such a good first impression.

I did a lot of whining in the beginning. Now I’m trying to look on the bright side. That would be the side that actually works.

I had just come home from a trip to Australia to visits the kids and the grands. It’s a killer trip and nobody expects to look their best the next morning. When I glanced into the mirror I panicked and ran. Then I slowly crept  back for a second look hoping to see something different. No such luck. The left side of my face had completely fallen. The good news was I had absolutely no wrinkles on that side. My skin looked amazingly youthful. The bad news was my left eye was even with the bottom of my nose and my mouth had slipped right off my face and down the front of my pajamas. I went into denial mode and focused on my normal side thinking how it might look as smooth as the scary side with some Botox and a little collagen. I pulled the skin back on my face to see what a face lift could do. Then I snapped to and thought, “Holy shit, am I having a stroke?” I took my blood pressure and it was its usual pushing the limits of normal. I checked my balance and didn’t fall over any quicker on one side than the other. I tested my strength and found myself equally weak on both sides. I made a mental note to join a gym and hire a trainer. Then I hightailed it to the doctor’s office.

I was given prednisone and an antiviral. Mood swings? Prednisone should come with the warning “May induce homicide.” It could be a legal defense. “Not guilty by reason of prednisone.” I really, really, wanted to kill somebody. It didn’t matter who.

I tried physical therapy, acupuncture, warm face wraps, facial exercises, you name it. My face remained frozen. I could not blink, produce tears, or even keep my eye shut. It kept popping open. I taped quarters to my lid. Remember how that worked on dead people in the old cowboy movies? I had such a severe case of dry eyes my cornea was in serious danger. I put gooey, runny,ointment in my eye and patched it. Now I looked like a pirate. I scared little children and embarrassed their parents.

I hid in the house for a week or two until I just had to get out. My husband braved being seen with me in public and took me out to dinner. Unfortunately, my cheek muscles didn’t work either. I sucked my wine out of a straw so it wouldn’t dribble down my shirt. I had to eat very, very slowly, because the food kept slipping out of the corner of my mouth. I was eating chunks of the inside of my mouth which kept getting in the way of my teeth. I was not the elegant lady my mother so desperately tried to raise. Eventually I switched to gin and tonics which look more sophisticated with a straw and learned to swallow my food whole before it could escape my mouth.

Walking around with an eye taped shut presented another problem. I had no depth perception. I went to the farmers market and made three passes at a fruit sample before I could grasp it. Walking home from dinner I missed seeing a pothole and broke my foot. So now I had a patched eye and an orthopedic shoe. (Did I mentioned I was looking to make some new friends?) Do you know how long a foot takes to heal at this age? Do you know how quickly you can pack on the pounds when you have to stay off your foot?

I’m getting better now. The wrinkles have worked their way back across my forehead.  I can close my eye and I have a partial blink.  My eye looks pretty normal except when it doesn’t. The nerve fibers regenerate but they don’t know where to go. So now when my eye is open my mouth pulls up into this obnoxious sneer. When I smile my eye closes. When I blink I grimace. (Did I mention I was trying to meet some new people?) But hey, I’m alive and I’ve learned some patience. My foot has healed. I have a new talent of winking really good. And oh yeah, I can drink out of a wine glass now without a straw.

Cheers!

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Speeding Through My Sixties

I am a baby boomer and proud of it!  Maybe we are not the “greatest generation” but we are the generation that is never going to grow old. We know this for a fact because Bob Dylan told us so. We started the youth culture in this country and it is up to us to keep the myth going.  We are having our faces lifted, our knees replaced, and our clogged arteries bypassed.  We were brought up on the  child rearing bible written by  Dr. Spock and we are keeping our faith afloat with the gospel of Dr. Oz. All of this spun wisdom is designed to keep us well, happy, and eternally youthful. I like Dr. Spock. He told our mothers to feed us whenever we cried.  I like Dr.Oz too. He tells us to have more sex. Here are two renowned  doctors who actually encourage us to do things we like. Should any of you  know of a doctor who tells us to cut down on exercise and drink more alcohol please introduce me.

I really do realize  that I can’t live forever. When I finally admitted my inevitable mortality I had  to stop delaying my midlife crisis. I put off midlife until my 60s to assure myself of living to 120.  Anyway, I was too busy in my forties to deal with it.

I had a really hard time coming up with some way to act out. I wanted something I could tell people about without them talking about me behind my back.  I was living in a small southern town and sixty is not nearly old enough to be considered charmingly eccentric.  You can be considered a number of other things so I had to be careful. It couldn’t take too much effort either because I didn’t want it to interfere with my gym time, shopping, or “Dancing With the Stars”.  Still, I was longing for someone to say to me “You did what?”

After some soul-searching I came up with something  hidden deep within me. I like to drive. Fast. This was not something I enjoyed as a young woman. For one thing I was never very brave. While all my college friends were out protesting and getting billy clubbed by the Buffalo police I found some excuse to remain back in my room.  I might have  said I needed to study. Or I might have said I was too hung over. I just know I said something because, really, do you have any idea what downtown Buffalo was like in those days? I think the college students, the drug dealers, and the prostitutes all got rounded up together. Though, come to think of it, they were all the same people. I also tended to drive slowly because I was never sure where I was going.  I still get lost. I drove around for an hour in downtown San Diego the other day looking for the freeway. Don’t you just hate one way streets?  When my children were born I realized I was suddenly a role model. I took the role seriously. I also wanted to avoid a lawsuit from the other parents in the carpool.

Now, it’s just me. And my BMW. Move over Steppenwolf!

Awhile ago I did a lot of  racing up and down the east coast putting out elder care fires. In the heartbreak of it all  I discovered how freeing it was to make a road trip alone. I also discovered how to make good time. I got my first ticket on the way to my father-in-law’s funeral. I don’t think the officer followed my reasoning. But honestly, my poor mother-in-law had Alzheimer’s and needed someone to get to her quickly. Poor Mom, talk about getting lost on a one way street.

Later, I began to make road trips just for fun. One clear sunny day driving through the desert on my way to Phoenix  I was cruising along at 97 singing out loud with Mick and the boys on the radio. I’m really not sure  how long the cop was following me.

Did you know you can do traffic school online now? I did learn a new word.  Velocitation means  speeding without realizing it. Life’s kind of like that too don’t you think?

I know driving fast isn’t much of a midlife rebellion. Nobody even really paid any attention to me. A friend or two told me I should slow down. My husband noted the increase in our car insurance. I’m thinking I should try something better. I’m still not very brave but I don’t live in a small town anymore. Got any ideas?

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