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Home Grown

Age is Just a Number

And fate sure has mine

By Cynthia Adams

After my birthday came and went, my nephew rang me up. One never to mince words, he asks, “How does it feel to be as old as you?” 

He reads Hunter S. Thompson and Cormac McCarthy, drinks truth serum for breakfast and avoids platitudes like, “Gee, you don’t seem old.” Only my nieces are that merciful.

After that sobering call, I’ve gone all in on scientific reading. I scrutinize claims that cold showers burn brown fat (that spongy glob rolling around our midsections). I stumble across MIT’s David Sinclair, who swallows a teaspoon of olive oil and youth-enhancing supplements for meals and looks about 30. I note how tech giants chill out in walk-in freezers, emerging fighting-weight-fit. All of them are arm wrestling with Father Time.

Meanwhile, I’ve been lolling in hot showers, ladling extra dressing on everything, kicking back with a Pinot and Camembert — when cold, sober and spartan were the HOV lane to youth.

What I want to know is how to look younger without actually having to do anything. Certainly not planking for core strength or training for 10Ks and half marathons, a thing I used to do. Or drinking mocktails.

What passive anti-aging opportunities had been overlooked?

One springs to mind following the shock of seeing myself in recent family photos: Avoid standing next to the very young in photographs.

Also, time to banish grandmacore from my wardrobe. Toss pantyhose — as not only a sign of the elderly but aggravating. Hot in the summer and freezing in the winter. And that droopy crotch!?

Henceforward, in future, avoid certain references. Like pay phones. And don’t mention when there used to be pay phones citywide, or how single girls never went on dates without a dime in case a handsy date made unwanted advances (outmoded term).

Note: Appear baffled by terms like “landline” or “collect call” or “long distance” or “person-to-person.” (When was a call ever anything but person-to-person?)

No “remember whens,” either, as in, “Remember when I got my first cell phone?” The Motorola 2900 was a costly monster, large enough to be mistaken for a military field phone. A few minutes’ usage was outrageously costly. 

Its replacement had the size and heft of a brick with a fixed antenna.

Also, no future mention of carbon paper (for my trusty IBM Selectric typewriter) —  or bottles of correction fluids like Wite-Out — shall cross my lips.

Even the stodgy Atlantic, whose readership is at least 50 years old, said this about Wite-Out: “The sticky, white fluid and its chief rival, Liquid Paper, are peculiar anachronisms, throwbacks to the era of big hair, big cars and big office stationery budgets.”

Crumbs dropped on the anti-aging trail: Tamp down that hair, drive an EV and text like it’s 2023!

So never shall I share raunchy stories like how during office parties someone inevitably went to the mail room to drop their pants and copy their naked bottom on a Xerox machine, back when they were common (and so was actually going to the office).

Because The Atlantic points out even printers themselves are in danger of being anachronistic in this digital age. Seems printer sales are steadily slipping down because little that we write is ever even printed. Welcome to the regular life of a writer, printers.

So, in the interest of anti-aging, I will not muse mindlessly, reminiscing about Tupperware parties (remember “burping” Tupperware?) Also, Avon, Mary Kay or other multilevel marketing companies. Mary who??

But where do I stop?

My nephew actually chides me for mailing him a Hallmark birthday card. “It wasn’t even personalized!” he adds. “And do you realize the carbon imprint of sending that single letter across the country?”

Just as I am about to whimper about how hard it’s gotten to find those delicious potato sticks anymore. The ones in a can. Drenched in palm oil. Which makes my arteries slam shut. And the pucker lines around my lips dig in deeper. And let’s not even mention the plight of orangutans.

Honestly, I’m growing cautious to the point of paranoia about what I can share with him anyway, given he’s this ripped fit, white-water rafting, carbon-counting hipster living in Denver. 

While I’m me. Living here.

Getting older — and more obsolete —  by the d#@! second. OH

Cynthia Adam is a contributing editor to O.Henry magazine.