“Oh for crying out loud, act your age.” I can’t remember what juvenile antic I had performed. (Selective memory is a wonderful thing! You get to pick and choose and clean up your autobiography just by blanking.) Whatever it was though, brought out this hissing directive from my mother, and unlike my action, I clearly remember her reaction.
Her reprimand came to mind recently when I was at a concert at Ravinia and looked around at all of the (other) sextu/and septuagenarians standing, waving their arms, swaying and shaking their backsides to the music. Great fun, but certainly not historically an “act your age” activitiy.
A different cast than Ravinia, but the same demographic, populated my life earlier this summer when I was in the Arctic Circle hopping on and off of inflatable boats to go hiking , looking at ice formations, glaciers, waterfalls, abandoned mining camps, and wildlife. There we were, Boomers, stomping around acting as though life was the same as it ever was.
We’ve been such a fortunate generation: coming along in the post World War II boom times when the economy mostly was robust, consumer goods were plentiful, education was easily attainable, and life unfolded in a rosy glow before us—sometimes with the aid of pharmaceuticals, but mostly rosy nonetheless. Oh sure, there were some down incidents, but overall, our high expectations have been fulfilled. (
Another activity from my ageless summer was reading “Wendy and the Lost Boys: the Uncommon Life of Wendy Wasserstein,” by Julie Salamon. She quotes from an essay, “Baby Boomers” about our Peter Pan generation that Wendy wrote toward the end of her own life. (And maybe it’s no coincidence that a person named Wendy, like the girl from Peter Pan, was a spokesperson for the boomer generation.)
“The thing about being a baby boomer is, somewhere we still believe that no one is going to do it better than we did. No one will be better than The Beatles, no one will be more glamorous than Jack Kennedy, no time will be as turbulent as the late 60’s, no parents will be as difficult as ours were, and no psyches will be as interesting as ours were. . . . Because boomers came of age in a world fascinated by them, and partially created for them, we are often not the most cooperative when it comes to aging, We are, in fact, at the forefront of not just aging gracefully, but not aging at all. Against all odds, we will hold back the hands of time.”
A few years ago, a couple of minutes before my dotage, I made a conscious decision to dress in an age-inappropriate fashion. Not meaning to disrespect the beloved Queen Elizabeth the Second, but I looked around and declared that there would be no bright, splashy floral prints for me. (Well, almost never: one skirt does come to mind.) Bright maybe—although grey is the new black—but, despite my years, nothing so obviously “old-ladyish” for me. I’m dressing for Neverland!
So, I go out there with others of my ilk where we all are bopping along to the music, thinking that we are what we were. As my dear friend Lois said as she celebrated her 80th birthday, “How the hell did this happen?” So much for acting your age.