What doesn't kill you.

It's my birthday this week, and that means I am preparing for the annual recitation of all those cliches about getting older. Ever wonder why there are so many jokes? Because laughter is the only way to mask the humiliation and horror of surviving the advancing signs of decrepitude.

And the unfairly certain process of watching every single thing you loved and took for granted slipping away, either from view, since your eye sight is going, or actually from the room, since your friends and loved ones usually have one foot on a banana peel as well.

What no one ever jokes about is what makes getting older fun. That's because we're trying to compensate for being older than we ever imagined we'd be. Plus, memory isn't the strongest kitten in the basket at this point, so I'm not sure I'd remember if an old geezer ever told me what was good about adult diapers, hearing aids and hip replacements.

At this point, one of the best aspects about getting older is giving advice. Not that anyone is asking or listening for that matter, but just because you've survived so many stupid mistakes, you have a very long list of "exactly how is that supposed to work out" to draw from. The majority of my most whopping mistakes, (since I survived, maybe experiences?), were before the Internet existed.  This gives them a certain plausibility as to "of course I couldn't look it up on the Internet, so that's why I went through that situation bass-ackwards."

All that experience means you get to say things like, "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger." Accent this cliche with twinkly eyes and a sly, Cheshire catlike smile. What you absolutely won't mention is that a) it really, really sucked at the time, b) it hurt like hell and c) having it kill you was not a viable option, but had it been, you seriously would have considered it.

Also you can rename screw-ups "lessons" if you can believably pretend that you actually learned something in the process. From the right angle, what appears as wisdom now is probably more like well healed scars.

But what if the Internet had existed?

First of all, background checks in the form of Facebook. This would have saved me a ton of learning experiences in pretty much all of my relationships. If my ex-boyfriends only had posts from other single women who wrote pithy remarks like "that's so hot" on his wall, I might have guessed that he was a player.

Or if he consistently posted about his awesome streak in Vegas, featured ads for bail bonds men, strip clubs, get rich quick schemes or sleazy attorneys. Pretty much anything in multi-level marketing would be a non-starter with the classic suggestion that I could "make crazy amounts of money TODAY by doing nothing". Who cares if he had such a beautiful mind?

On the other end of the spectrum would have been those guys whose mother was posting sweet notes like "remember to floss" on his page and tagging him in baby pictures. Although I might not have even considered dating him to begin with since his cell phone ring would have been something from Mamma Mia.

Wait, no cell phones either!

This was the dark ages - hang on - before youtube, iPhones, Facebook, MySpace, Google or even Tivo. Actually back then television was a substitute for the Internet since I learned a lot about relationships from watching all those commercials in the 70's. My dream date would wear Brute, know the hustle and drive an American muscle car.  It was even before blow dryers. Which was why I never achieved a truly awesome shag like Farrah's.

Thinking about it, I might have ignored all the warning signs and leapt right in anyway. Since my Facepage would have had some pretty damning links as well. Pictures of me with my cats, clips of me lip synching to the Beatle's, a "Keep on Truckin'" fan badge, links to astrology websites and ads for macrame plant holders and hydroponic kits for basement gardens.

Maybe all those lessons had to happen anyway?  Since I can't rewrite history, today I'm choosing to think about the difference between acceptance and resignation. Let's just say the first one is more aligned with gratitude and I'm all about that.

At my age, even being able to think about it is a pretty great thing.

1 comment:

  1. 'What appears as wisdom now is probably more like well healed scars.' I like that line, something with which I can definitely agree from my own experience.