Among the indignities of getting older, the minute I turned 50 I started getting insulted by my mail. Where I used to get cards inviting me to special sales at my favorite stores, or theater and gallery openings, it seemed the marketeers were just waiting for me to blow out the candles on my cake before they targeted me as aging and decrepit and about to die. AARP, I don't know how they do it, but they were there before my friends and family to recognize my big day. They sent me a card reminding me I was now old and that I should join them so they could lobby on my behalf. Awesome as that might be, I am just not ready to carry around a card proclaiming my new found geriatric status.
And now I regularly receive invitations to retirement communities (as if I was in a position to retire at 50 -- not with two college tuitions still to pay); daily letters from financial planners, seeking to help me manage my pension (I can watch it lose its value all by myself, thank you); and charming letters from cemeteries, detailing the benefits of purchasing a family mausoleum.
My local hospital sends me a depressing little newsletter with articles on diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, and legions of other diseases. No wonder I don't sleep through the night any more. Health clubs send me brochures advertising their special over 50 classes, as if all of a sudden I am no longer capable of attending the regular classes. What, would I offend the 20somethings in Pilates? And don't even get me started on the coupons I receive for bladder control products. Really, Depends, I know where you are if I need you.
Today was the last straw: a letter from a local weight loss clinic announcing their services catering to the over 50 set. So now they are calling me fat! They don't even know me! What I find funny is the way most of these advertisements portray what they think I want my golden years to look like: Me and some androgynous, toothy man on a golf course, or dancing at some fancy country club. I have never played golf, or joined a country club, and am not about to start now. Would it be so inconceivable to show a 50 year old riding a bike? Playing the guitar? Kicking back with a six pack? How about rocking a toddler to sleep? Remember how empowering it was when Helen Reddy sang, "I am woman, hear me roar?" We need a new anthem, maybe sung by Bruce Springsteen (62) Aretha Franklin (70), or even Ms. Reddy herself (70). Any suggestions? The only one I can think of is "I am 50, hear me snore." There's got to be something more inspiring than that!