Why Middle-Agers Feel Comfortable in Their Own Skin


One of the better aspects about becoming middle-aged during this time in history is that Oprah grew older at the same pace. It was almost worth it to see what she’d say on the subject of the mutiny of her knees and to be a witness when her face began sporting a perpetual expression of either disbelief (facelift) or a pumpkin two weeks past Halloween (normal aging).

Turns out if you have millions of women tuning in to watch you age, you can pay magicians or fairies to transform your face on a daily basis, giving the impression that uncountable stacks of money makes your life a better place to live. I don’t think she ever mentioned her knees, but I refuse to research that.

Fortunately, not talking about knees created a vast amount of empty air time during which Oprah often discussed the positively glamorous process of becoming a woman in full flower, (old). Guests would arrive, carefully arrange themselves in her over-sized chairs so that their double chins were nearly undetectable and offer up the wisdom that, when a women begins her journey into mid-life she finally feels,”comfortable in her own skin,” which isn’t all that surprising considering it gets looser as we age. Which is more comfortable, the pants you have to lie down to zip or your husband’s Wranglers? To quote the young, “Duh!”

Even without the testimony of Oprah and Friends, there is little doubt that aging has its ups and downs as does every experience outside of pie. The question is: Would a detailed list of the gains and losses come out even or would it be more like a match up between warm chocolate and a sharp stick in the eye?

Given the gravitas of the question, I’ve decided to create a carefully constructed, scientifically accurate list of the yin and yang of the autumn years. I do this to save you the trouble. You can thank me later.

Not surprisingly the first gain which comes to mind is weight. I started life at a slim seven or eight pounds and immediately went about remedying that situation, mostly because there are very few options for fashionable attire when you weigh in under ten pounds.

Unlike fashion models, I continued to gain weight past the age of ten and evened out in my mid-teens, at which point I began to worry that I may be fat. This situation is the main reason time travel must be invented. If only I could return to the days of my youth and gently tell myself, “Shut up and enjoy the fact that you can eat a pie and work it off the next day simply by cutting back on pop!” (soda for those outside of Chicago). Having said my piece, I would swat my self on the back of the head, climb back into my time machine, and return to my thirties where I would live forever.

I’ve lost…everything, at least once. I once lost a set of keys in my backyard when I lobbed them toward the deck, (In my defense, I’ve never been able to throw anything at a target, no matter how large and I’ve gained the ability to live with that.) I’ve lost cash and checks, which are almost as good as money, and while I’m on the subject, credit cards and my passport. I’ve lost the ability to rise from a squat without assistance. I become lost in my car on a more regular basis, but no one can confirm this as I have GPS and rarely admit this failing unless I end up somewhere funny. I’ve lost the ability to make a living as a writer, (something I never really gained if we’re being technical about the word “living”).

Socks. I’ve lost them, as have you. If I were Jerry Seinfeld, I’d continue with a “What’s the deal with socks,” monologue, but let’s just agree it’s a conspiracy which will eventually lead to the end times and leave it at that.

I have gained the understanding that a nap is a gift and not to accept this gift is spitting in the face of all that I hold dear, and they hate when I do that.

I remember being a small person, bigger than a breadbox but smaller than the national debt, and my mother would declare nap time. Because I was less than world-wise and three-years-old, I worried something spectacular would happen while I was asleep and, in my defense, The Beatles came to America during the next year of my life. What if I had slept through that? One shudders at the idea.

Anyway, my mom would spoon me, trapping me with over sized (to a three-year-old) arm and I would be forced to lie there, wide awake while she snored, her vice-like grip never abating. Oddly enough, I found myself waking up some time later, usually alone and always refreshed. This never registered with me until naps were no longer mandatory.

I’ve lost all interest in leaving the house after dark or 7pm, whichever comes first. I have musician friends who invite me to see them perform, and I would love to do so, if they started at the same time as early bird dinner specials. But once I hit the indented place in the couch cushion with my laptop and the remote control, it would take an act of Congress to blast me out so we can safely assume I’m in for the night.

I’ve lost interest in acting my age, which comes as no surprise to those who know me or those who’ve read my ode to the lead singer of Coldplay. In the same vein, I no longer worry that my fashion sense is age-appropriate and, although that’s never been an issue, I’m putting it in the gain column, because I can.

Finally, the most universally experienced loss; I have officially lost all but one salad fork. All of us have been there, right? You got to set the table on one of the three days in the year you do so and find one lonely salad fork mixed in with the larger, and less friendly dinner forks. As we all know, this is a disaster of epic proportions as it is impossible to eat one’s salad without a utensil which is marginally smaller than a full-sized fork. That’s a bit of a misnomer, of course; it is perfectly acceptable to eat one’s salad by dipping one’s fingers into the bowl and plucking out arugula and heirloom tomatoes as long as you hold your pinkie up while doing so. However, where the @#$%^ are my salad forks? With my single earrings and socks?

Having re-read this column, I find that loss outnumbers gains, at least in my present state of mind, but I also noticed I mentioned pie twice, which has no bearing on the subject but is always a good way to finish up.


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