"I can't wait to taste your muffin."
Last night, Betty White chattered away with Ana Gasteyer and Molly Shannon, the faux NPR hosts of Saturday Night Live's The Delicious Dish about muffins. Eating muffins. Warm, moist muffins. Velvety, yummy muffins. Sometimes finding them salty. Others that are yeasty. Muffins that get crusty as they get older. And how Betty's muffin had been cherry free for decades, was now dusty, not to mention bigger than ever. The barely subtle oral sex innuendo was over-the-top, jam-packed, juvenile, silly, at times making me cringe, others laugh out loud. It was a one joke skit that that was milked for as long as possible.
The brilliance hit me this morning.
Even though Betty White announced mid sketch (as she did throughout the evening), that she was 88 and a half, her age didn't matter. Her timing did. Her dry wit. The expectant pauses before she delivered yet another suggestive line. She was funny. Commanding. Professional. Believable. Talking cunnilingus live on national TV. Not in the least what you'd expect someone her age to be casually discussing.
Which leads me to what we expect older people to be talking about. Unless it's the brunt of a viagra joke, no one's thinking senior citizens and sex. Most of us view getting older with dread, with fear, a relatively steady decline into disease and dementia. Or if not that extreme, then at least trepidation of wrinkles, of memory loss, of losing our vitality, viability, of becoming invisible in a society that celebrates youth.
But it's not just celebrating, we're sold youth. With age-defying make-up, lipstick that gives you a pout that last for hours, mascara that thickens your eyelashes. Injections to smooth out wrinkles. Surgeries to suck out fat. Vitamins that promise anything from memory boosts to healthier digestive systems. Hair plugs, colors, treatments. Baby food diets. Magazines that feature interchangeable chicklets in skimpy bathing suits sharing their diet and exercise tips.
The success of movies that star over 50 stars like Diane Keaton and Meryl Streep looking for love are such a surprise to the industry but why? We're all aging folks. Every day. And just because we'll never be 24 again doesn't mean we stop thinking about flirting, sex, body image, confidence. Why are are gray hair and wrinkles relegated to pharmaceutical advertising for heart disease and sexual dysfunction? It's time we stop treating older people as if they're past their prime.
Far more of them are better than they ever have been.
Thank you Betty for reminding us age doesn't matter.