Just about every retiree in Ajijic knows what it’s like to hit 60. It’s the milestone. And it’s like walking into that milestone. It hurts.
For some, it feels like the first gentle transformative step into the hereafter. And so every time they get heartburn, it’s a Cruz Roja call.
For others, it’s a time of celebration for having made it so far. When I was a kid, as soon as somebody reached 60 we started praying for them. Not to stay healthy. To go to heaven. I covered 34 aunts and uncles in my night prayers. It’s probably why I’m an insomniac today.
Yet others see it as a time of freedom: three score. Looking forward to more “scores” to come. Something you might hear on any weekend at the Hefner mansion.
Today, we all know 60 is the new 40. Unfortunately, that could mean another mid-life crisis. Somehow, you can’t win. Yes, aging plays tricks on you, a slow shape-shifting and clumsiness that belies one’s self image.
Sixty years ago, 60 was very different from today. Sixty meant your pants were belted just under your armpits. Teeth soaked in a glass all night. You watched Lawrence Welk, napped and exercised at the same time – in your rocking chair. Family would talk about you in the third person: Did he have a hat? Should I button up his sweater. Does he have his Geritol? That’s how I remember 60, 60 years ago.
But I’ve concluded one thing for sure about age: we’re really all the same people today that we were at six years old. The difference is that the world just treats us all differently at age six and at age 60. For men, for example:
When you were six, you pretended to be Superman. At 60, women pretend you are Superman.
When you were six, you might have had an imaginary friend. At 60, on Facebook, you have 100 imaginary friends.
At six, you might have given your bus seat to a 60-year-old woman. At 60, a 60-year-old woman would have to head-butt you for that seat.
At six, there was that, you show me yours, viva la difference stuff. At 60, same thing, but you’re talking liposuction scars.
At six, you went to bed with books like “101 Dalmations.” At 60, after a few drinks, you’d go to bed with Cruella De Ville.
At six, the opposite gender was the enemy. At 60 ... nothing’s changed.
For those who haven’t reached 60 yet, let me say, don’t despair. Sixty has its advantages. Women dig it when you tell them you were a Green Beret, for example. Whether you were one or not doesn’t matter. Works for any guy, all you need is a scar from falling off your bike. And men think women at 60 are capable of playing every possible female role at once: the sexually astute mistress, the loving and wise companion, and best of all, mama in surrogate. You just have to play your cards right (including credit cards).
So it looks like at 60, we should all feel pretty positive that our time isn’t up and that there’s still a way to go. After all, it wasn’t that long ago when our stooped, asthmatic Victorian forebears seldom lived past age 40. (And who could blame them?) And what about Australopithecus? If he made it to 23, the pandemonium on the savannah would go on for weeks. But try telling him he still has another 40 years of chasing mammoths around, and he’d get a heart arrhythmia just thinking about it.
Yes, of course, we’re all on meds, but I want to sum up by being positive: youth really isn’t wasted on the young. Would you ever want to go back to four years of high-school gym classes.