Old Broad Blogging

I turned forty-five this year. I had to look for a minute to see if I’m the one writing this post or if my third-grade teacher is hanging over my shoulder with her fingers on the keyboard.

I can’t believe I’m that age. I remember twenty years ago thinking people my age were old.

Really old.

Now that I’m here though, I don’t feel that way. However, I found out recently that twenty-somethings still feel the same way about people my age as I did twenty years ago.

My husband and I went to Mumford & Sons’ final U.S. tour stop in Bonner Springs, Kansas, this past September. We’d been fans for a long time, so we queued up at the gates early. We did so because, a) although it had been a while (ahem, years) since we’d been to a general admission concert, we remembered that only the early birds get the “close to the stage” worms, and b) we had nothing better to do than stand for five-plus hours.

But it was so worth it. The early birds got the worm, baby—ten people back from center stage!

M&S

Other than one pee break for me between opening acts, we didn’t move from our spot.

About ten minutes before M&S hit the stage, the pushers and squeezers (PSers, for short) appeared on the scene.

You know.

Those people.

The ones who think they’re too cool to queue at the gates and figure their mere presence on this earth deems them worthy of the spot ten people back from center stage.

The first group of PSers were five or six petite, young ladies, arms linked, smiles cracked wide across their faces, and their pie holes cackling laughter. My husband and I guessed these ladies’ first post-concert activity would be a beer-fueled puke-a-thon given the number of plastic glasses sloshing in their hands and their milky, half-moon eyes.

Three of them made it about four rows ahead of us. The others got separated from the rest of the herd by a couple of seven-foot tall gents who were not having any of their, “Excuse me, excuse me” niceties.

“Don’t let them through! Don’t let them through!” chanted the other long-suffering early birds surrounding us.

(Here I will stop to give these PSers credit—at least they used their manners in their attempt to rush the stage.)

The second group included one PSer with mad acting skills.

“Excuse me. I’m looking for my teenage daughter. She’s got long brown hair, about this tall. Anyone seen her?” she asked to no one in particular.

I almost fell for her pleas. Although the woman didn’t look quite old enough to have a teenage daughter, the mother in me kicked into overdrive when I saw the worried look on her face. I felt a strong urge to join her search party, my ten-people-back-from-center-stage spot be damned.

What gave it away was her friend who huddled behind her, laughing her ass off, impressed that her friend’s “concerned mother” schtick actually got them that close to the stage.

By this time, I was pissed and ready for a fight. I’d be damned if anyone else was going to push and squeeze their entitled, most certainly drunk asses in front of me and my feet that had been fused to the same spot for five-plus hours.

And who do I happen to see pushing and squeezing their entitled, most certainly drunk asses to my right but a fight incarnate—a lovely towheaded cherub of a boy, his toddler-height, helium-voiced girlfriend, and his corn dog-sized sidekick.

I took one, huge stomp to my right and cut the Little Rascals off at the pass.

Little_Rascals

Towhead pushed against me. I stood firm.

“ExCUSE me!” he said.

“Nope.”

What? You think you can keep people from moving up? It’s a free country. I can stand wherever I want.”

“Not in front of me, you can’t,” I said.

“Oh, really?”

“Yeah, really. How long have you been standing here?”

‘How long have I been standing here?’ You think that’s how it works? I can stand anywhere I want. You can’t stop me.”

“And how long have you been standing here?”

At that point, M&S hit the stage, and the Goonies decided to give it up.

Of course that didn’t stop them from kicking plastic water bottles and empty beer cups against my legs and telling my shoulder blades what they thought of me:

“That b#$ch is so old the last concert she probably went to was Barry Manilow.”

“I’m surprised she can fu@#ing stand, she’s so old.”

But I also received high praise from another woman around my age to our left.

“That was awesome what you did, keeping those punks from cutting! Thank you!”

While this kind woman’s verbal back slap helped, what those toddlers said created a demarcation line in my head. The first step from before into after.

I realized that night I’d crossed to the other side—I was now an old broad in the eyes of twenty-somethings.

I’ll admit it: that realization stung. When I thought of myself, I didn’t think “old.” So when people (albeit obnoxious, vertically challenged strangers) categorized me as such, it left me stunned.

For days after that, I walked around like someone had thrown a mangy old coat over my shoulders and told me I couldn’t take it off.

Ever.

I felt like I did when, after years of grocery shopping and eating sandwiches together, my husband confessed to not liking whole wheat bread—totally baffled.

After a while, those feelings faded. But to be honest I think it was mostly because no one else ever came right out and called me old. At least not to my face.

It also helped that the fifth-grade girls in the class I occasionally facilitate told me they thought I was nineteen. Eleven-year-olds are really smart.

But facts are facts. I’m forty-five. I’m double the age of a good share of people in their twenties.

And before you say it, I know. I’m also half the age of an ninety-year-old.

Since that age-shaming concert, I’ve realized there are some perks to getting old(er). The best one is that I get to be exactly who I want to be…finally.

For me, that means a writer.

I spent a sh!t-ton of years doing busy life stuff because I thought that’s what I was supposed to do. Writing was a hobby, not serious work.

At first those years seemed like a waste. They represented time I could have spent writing the gazillion bad words I need to write to get to the good ones.

Photo courtesy of Ryan McGuire of Bells Design/Gratisography

Photo courtesy of Ryan McGuire of Bells Design/Gratisography

But now I see that all that busy life stuff was like tons of carbon buried a hundred miles below the earth’s surface, under tons of pressure, over millions of years. It’s that stuff that turns into diamonds.

Now, I’m not saying my writing is like a precious jewel or that with more time and pressure (i.e. holding myself accountable for being who I want to be) my writing won’t get better.

It will.

But it’s only by getting old(er) that I’ve given myself permission to start mining some of the good stuff that’s been buried under layers of what at first seemed like worthless crap.

That’s the golden years, my friends.

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So tell me, when have you seen yourself differently through someone else’s eyes? How did it feel? What did you learn about yourself? Did you believe it, own it? Or did you reject it? How has life changed, for the better, for you as you’ve aged, no matter if you’re eighteen or eighty? What are you most looking forward to giving yourself permission to do once you’ve reached the “right” age?

17 thoughts on “Old Broad Blogging

  1. What a great post! I’m cool with my age (34 this year) but I also work in a place where the average age of my fellow employee is like, 21. Mostly fresh-faced college students, recruited straight from school. The age difference is a sobering reality that I face daily. lol Props to you for putting your foot down on that toddler and his crew – my husband did something similar at a Man Man concert we went to recently, and I’ll be darned if the lead singer didn’t lick my husband’s phone, we were so close to the stage. Our last concert before that was Radiohead two years before. We older folk can still rock it, occasionally. 🙂

    1. Now, a phone lick would have been the icing on the saliva cake for me!

      I used to be an awesome dancer, but apparently now that’s changed too if you could see the way my daughter looks at me when I’m busting a move. It’s not gonna keep me from dancing though.

      Thanks for chiming in, Kristen!

  2. I like this post on so many levels. I do hate those moments when I realize other people are very aware I’m 49 even though my mind says I’m still in my 20s. I just never think about it until someone gives that unintentional verbal slap.

    I love your concert experience! You made me laugh aloud, picturing you standing your ground against Spanky and the corndog-sized sidekick.

    I have friends of all ages, and I’m finally comfortable just being me, regardless of the situation. None of them seem to think I’m out of place, whether I’m hanging out with my 33-year-old best friend or my 65-year-old “old lady” friends, or anyone in between.

    1. Hi Lynda! I think it’s awesome to have friends of different ages—I do too, but haven’t always. Just another one of those things that changed as I got older. Glad you enjoyed the post!

  3. Oh, Kelly, I feel this same way. I’m not old! *stomps foot*

    Lately, I’ve been thinking about this a lot. Having a kid in high school will do that to a person. I remember high school. When did I get to be old enough to have a teenager? LOL.

    Love this post–all of it!

  4. The great thing about being the old broad is that you don’t have to give a damn what the Little Rascals think of you when you’re telling them to piss off. Though, yes, it may sting to have that sudden realization that you’re in fact not in your twenties anymore (yes, sometimes we need to be told this), isn’t that a great realization?!

    I wouldn’t want to go back there for anything, not now, not knowing what I do. Yes, things creak a little more than they did back then, but I will take wisdom and self-knowledge over awesome dance moves any day. I was a helluva dancer in my day too. Even won some contests. I wanted to be a “Fly Girl.” I’m fairly certain I look like Elaine from Seinfeld dancing now when I try to do the things I used to now, but that’s okay. My dog, Lucy, gives me the same look your daughter gives you, but it doesn’t stop me either when the mood strikes. 😉

    Riding motorcycles at our ages (I’m almost 42 – next month, and my boyfriend is 50 – still racing every month – never acting his age, lol) brings us in contact with a lot of younger folk. Many of our rider friends are younger. It’s always shocking to me when I realize how much older I am, many times by a significant degree (like I could be their mother!) than many of my friends who ride. “Happy birthday, you’re WHAT? You’re 25?! HOLY S#%*!” True story. 😉

    It’s all good though. It comes down to respect. So many of the “kids these days” don’t have any for anyone, regardless of age. There I go, sounding like my mother. I have no problem with that. And I have no problem with putting any little bastard, I mean Rascal in his place if he tries to step in front of me in line either.

    Oh how I love Mumford and Sons. What was the final verdict on their bandness? Was it a joke or are they really breaking up?

    1. You said it, Kelly! I wouldn’t go back to my twenties for nothing. And I know I was never as disrespectful as “kids” these days (yes, there I go sounding like my mother too, but dammit she’s right!).

      M&S did not break up—it was just some off-handed comment, for which they all should be thoroughly spanked. Care to join me? 😉

  5. What a great post! Aging can be a depressing battle until you stop and realize that it’s going to happen why not make the best of it. I hate the fact that at 44 I have wrinkles and a muffin top (actually a whole cake) then last year it got topped off, because I have RA and Sjogren’s I lost my teeth in a year and had to get get dentures, my hair is falling out! Talk about self-conscious much! I rarely leave the house but in my writing I can be who I want (which i have recently realized is actually me), I can go where I want to go and I can say whatever the hell I want!

    1. Rena, you said it—whatever nature and gravity may take away from us, we always have our voices, which seem to get louder and stronger and more confident. Thanks for your thoughts!

  6. May I lecture? You are forty-five and you’ll be looking back on this in twenty years like you’re looking back now on twenty-five. So, I say if you have to think about being “older”, give equal time to the fact that you’re “younger” too, with DECADES left to accomplish things you can’t touch if you’re a no-nothing, rude, obnoxious, ill-mannered twenty-something dips*** with nice skin and good hair. Second, it’s my observation that we get most upset with comments that reflect things we’re probably saying to ourselves. I did this in my forties, but only until I felt disloyal to myself. I became much happier after when I stopped thinking about how much – or how little – one age resembled another. Here’s the big win – I’ll bet you’re kick ass in ways you weren’t twenty years ago, and will be even kick-asser in twenty more.

    1. I love a good lecture, Susan, and you delivered! You are totally correct—I have eons of time left to get better and better. And if I’m this amazing now, imagine twenty years from now. Watch the f#ck out world! 🙂

      I also have to keep reminding myself of this Simple Reminders quote. Thanks so much for reading and sharing your thoughts.

  7. I just turned 56 and I was a bit freaked out by this one.
    The good part like you wrote is getting to do what I want to do and writing what I want to write.
    More good news is it appears there are many more of us, than them.

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