Looking at Old People or “Is Fifty the New Forty?”


You might not want to read this.

It’s gonna get scary.

I recently went to a funeral attended by a number of people who were middle-aged and beyond. The crisscrossed lines in their faces resembled an electric grid.

Still, one noted a few exceptions. Some, always female, had facial features that appeared to be immobilized by a Botox overdose. No forehead lines, no wrinkles, no movement; for the price of frozen time they had also obtained, at no extra charge, a visage as smooth as stone and as hard to animate. When trying to smile, a few of these folks looked like their faces were about to crack, while necks and hands told a different story.

Then there were the face-lifts that didn’t recapture youth so much as they made one look like someone else. Not better, but different. A few others sported eye and jowl lifts that had lost their hydraulics. I guess the old saying applies: what goes up must come down.

The men didn’t have this problem, but made an equally pathetic effort to disguise ancient origins. One guy had a comb-over that started behind his left ear and ended just over his right ear. Didn’t his wife notice this? Whose idea was this anyway? What was the man thinking?

Bad toupees suggested a recent visit to an Oriental rug bazaar in order to buy a discarded carpet remnant.

I am bald myself, but make no effort to disguise it. I do remember, however, hearing about something called scalp reduction surgery designed to get more coverage out of the hair you have by reducing the territory on top of your head.

I can imagine the following conversation:

Surgeon: ‘Well, Dr. Stein, we’ve studied your head, your hair-line and scalp and we have some good news and some bad news.”

Me: “Tell me more, Doctor.”

Surgeon: “The good news is that we can give you a full head of hair!”

Me: “And the bad news?”

Surgeon: ‘Your head will be the size of a pea.”

Back to the distaff side, a few of the women seemed to be hoping that you wouldn’t look at them closely because you’d be distracted by the dazzle of their jewelry. One seventy-ish lady had so many bracelets that she wasn’t able to lift her arm to shake hands. Her metallic bands created an orchestra-like percussion effect that drowned out the clergyman’s eulogy whenever she moved a millimeter.

Then there were the older men and women who dressed in styles more suitable to young people. One muscular guy wore a shirt revealing just enough to suggest that a lot of iron had been successfully pumped, but that all recreative work had stopped above the shoulders, sort of like an unfinished home rehab that never got to the top floor. “I don’t think that is his real head,” my wife whispered to me. We both wondered who his surgeon might be.

Ginger Rogers in Her Youth

A few of the older ladies wore skirts or dresses that befitted teens and twenty-somethings. The attire was usually combined with a long-haired coiffure that reminded me of how Ginger Rogers looked in the dreadful old age of a once gorgeous creature, still thinking that her beautiful blond hair should be worn just as it had been 50 years before.

If desperation had a fragrance, the room would have been ripe with it. But then, as Billy Crystal’s old SNL character “Fernando” used to say, “I’d rather look good than to feel good.”

The problem was, no one really looked good, even with all the obvious effort.

Is 70 then the new 60, as some like to say? Is 50 the new forty?

Is dead the new alive?

My advice? Accept the unacceptable. Hold on to your dignity.

Try hard not to look like an idiot.

As wise men have said for centuries: “There’s no fool like an old fool.”

The top image is called Happiness by Marg, sourced from Wikimedia Commons.

6 thoughts on “Looking at Old People or “Is Fifty the New Forty?”

  1. 70s actually the new 40


  2. This one really made me laugh. Love, Jorie


  3. Let the mind stay young and let the body grow old with grace.


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