The Seventh Decade Blues

There are good things about turning 60. You're still here. You're happier with who you are. You care less about what people think of you. Nevertheless, a few months into my seventh decade, a few things are getting me down.
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There are good things about turning 60: You're still here. You're happier with who you are. You care less about what people think of you. Grandparenthood is a joy. You're calmer because you've stopped trying to control things that are beyond your control. Wrinkles don't hurt. You get that hip-hop is misogynistic crap and aren't afraid to say so. As an 'oldie' you will likely be among the first people released in a hostage situation.

Nevertheless, a few months into my seventh decade, as I attempt to stride chin up, chest out, over the hill into Crone City, a few things are getting me down...

•Death ... It's just dawned on me that people die at 60 and it's not considered a tragedy. I think about dying a lot. It reminds me of when I was a kid and I used to lie awake at night trying to imagine infinity. It caused pandemonium and panic in my brain and I'd call out for my mom. The same happens now -- minus the mom bit -- when I think about ceasing to be. Death is terrifying and like Woody Allen I'd rather not be there when it happens. What's more, as an atheist, it sucks not being able to look forward to the afterlife. Oblivion doesn't have quite the same allure as eternal bliss and resurrection. I'm considering downgrading to agnostic.

•Health ... My back aches. My knees hurt. My pelvic floor isn't what it was. So sometimes I leak. Even if they made Michelle Pfeiffer the face of Poise, incontinence pads will never be cool. I can't eat too late because I don't sleep well after a big meal. I get a hangover after a couple of glasses of red wine. I take a proton pump inhibitor. I go into a room, forget why I'm there, and start Googling Alzheimer's. I've shrunk in height and gained pounds. I think I might be turning into a black hole.

•My kids ... calling at 10 p.m. and saying "did I wake you?"

•Chin hairs.

•Everybody saying that 60 is the new 40. It isn't. By that logic, 30 would be the new 10. And what was so great about being 40?

•Kind young people who offer me their seat on the bus or subway. They mean well and I always accept with good grace, but it makes me feel decrepit.

•A certain breed of 60-something women ... Why is it that the moment they hit their 60s, so many previously cool, fun women turn into syrupy sentimentalists? This is something that the exasperated heroine of my latest book "Losing Me," asks herself a lot. She's on the verge of turning 60 and, like me, she can't understand what has happened to all these right-on women who once read "The Female Eunuch" and knew all the words to "Suzanne" and the Monty Python parrot sketch. Hell, they even owned Pet Rocks. These days half of them seem to be filling their houses with snow-globes, porcelain babies dressed as angels and tapestry cushions embroidered "to my dearest hubby." On Facebook they post a constant stream of kitten photos. There are kittens cuddling puppies, kittens lapping from bone-china teacups. I have a theory that once women run out of estrogen and can no longer reproduce, they become filled with a new biological imperative: to fill their lives with kitsch and cute.

•A certain breed of 60-something men ... The ones who have always been self-obsessed get worse with age. You know the type: even as a young man, he never understood how to make conversation. He never listened or asked questions. Every sentence he uttered began with "I". All that interested him was finding a gap in the proceedings so that he could slip in another me-centered anecdote. In middle age -- or worse, in retirement -- these men become unbearable. Past their prime and secretly drowning in low self-esteem, they are more determined than ever to be noticed. They proffer loud opinions about wine, the state of the world and how to fix it. They seriously wonder how the planet will carry on spinning when they're gone.

•Cruises ... A cruise ship is God's waiting room: a touring hotel that practically does the sightseeing for you. It's all so effortless -- like Velcro, Crocs and elasticized waistbands. Cruising is catnip to people of a certain age. But cruises -- no matter how upscale, bingo and karaoke-free -- are the first sign of the dying of the light. Mind you, there are some great deals to be had this time of year ...

•New fangled words ... like meme and clickbait. I keep looking them up. Then almost immediately -- my memory being what it is -- I forget what they mean.

•Mark Zuckerberg ... I may be 60, but does the boy mogul with practically his whole life ahead of him, have to ram the point home quite so often? My Facebook sidebar is full of ads for "cheap, no-fuss funeral plans." Or stairlifts. Or invitations to take part in trials aimed at detecting early onset Alzheimer's. Many of us baby boomers have paid off our home loans, our kids have finished college and we have money to spend. Why aren't we being targeted by upmarket car manufacturers, fashion and holiday companies? I wouldn't necessarily spend a fortune on a fancy car, a Gucci tote or two weeks in Vanuatu but it would be nice if advertisers thought I might.

•Grandparents who brag ... When my children were young, I had no time for mothers and fathers who sang their kids' praises non-stop and I feel the same about grandparents. I don't care if your grandchild can count to 10 in five languages, potty-trained him/herself or refuses a Happy Meal because he/she is cuckoo for kale chips. Get back to me when the kid wins a Nobel Prize.

•And finally ... Viagra. In the time it takes to kick in, the pair of you have had a cup of cocoa, watched an episode of True Detective and fallen asleep. More to the point, you've woken up in the morning thinking that sharing a hot milky drink and good TV at night is just as enjoyable as sex.

Losing Me by Sue Margolis is published by New American Library.

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