I’m old enough to say what I want to say. This is a great advantage to getting older. It saves time, calculation, white lies, and stress.
I used to be upset with older people because I thought they were rude when they came right out and asked a question or said something that seemed to be none of their business. Now I realize that they were just saving time. As we get older, time is our greatest asset. We know to use it sparingly and if we have a question or contribution, we just jump right in and say it. We never know if we will have another chance to do it again.
Take for instance the girl waiting on you at the fast food restaurant. The one with the four rings in her lip, two in her eyebrow and the big circles in her ear lobes that the wind blows through. I now see nothing wrong with asking her such questions as, “What happens when you go through airport security?” and perhaps just the question “Why?” I have so much I’m curious about and so little time left to satisfy that curiosity.
Age also makes us feel this need to help future generations to avoid the pitfalls we’ve experienced. Seeing a college student walk outside wearing shorts in January, for instance, it becomes my duty to inform him that he will get arthritis in his knees and will have trouble dancing at his daughter’s wedding.
Seeing a child eating a candy bar before a meal sometimes makes me say, “you shouldn’t do that” as I recall my own experiences with candy bars before meals — like the humiliation of elastic as it gives up or the absence of a particularly useful molar. I like to think that I’m genuinely concerned for their health and not just trying to find a clever way of getting it from them for myself.
And heaven forbid if a young woman’s shirt shows too much cleavage. “You won’t be so proud when those are resting on the tops of your shoes,” I’ve been known to whisper. (Okay. Okay. That last comment might be more out of jealousy than actual helpful advice.)
When I see young people spending money foolishly, though, I feel it is important that they know they should save for the future. They obviously don’t know what adult diapers cost! Orthopedic shoe prices are no joke either. And I bet they have never given thought to the future need of an occasional suppository or the cost of those more intimate relationships with doctors. An expensive prom dress you wear just once versus a good set of dentures? There isn’t even a contest.
Our likes and dislikes also become more magnified as we get older. Again, I think it is the “time passing” factor that makes us return to the days of our childhood when we didn’t eat what we didn’t like and we ate lots of what we do like. Like children, as we get older we go where we want to go and do what we want to do. And we say what we want to say because we don’t worry about burning bridges anymore. For the most part we don’t need those bridges to go to as many places. And experience helps us mourn all the good, valuable time we wasted being overly careful and foolish in our own youth.
We tend to be more critical as we age. We feel it is our duty to correct things that will lead the future down the wrong path. Maybe we are genuinely concerned. Maybe we are just jealous that we didn’t have the foresight or courage of the next generation. Maybe we are just trying to earn some brownie points for the “hereafter” and we know we can use all the help we can get.
All I know for sure is that now that I’m old enough to speak my mind, I really wish I could find it.