At some point, you realize your parents are getting old. You look at them with concerned, sympathetic eyes. It makes you sad when you see how long it takes them to climb up the stairs. Your phone conversations usually include noticeable gaps of silence during which they fervently search to remember why they called you in the first place; their views of how the world works are becoming increasingly less sound; their rationalizations of logic don’t quite add up. After a lifetime of abhorring all things related to group travel, they start to have second opinions about the benefits of cruises. They high five each other when they fall into the 60 plus seniors discount bracket at the movie theater, but their high fives usually miss. You start to receive forwarded emails containing a plethora of sex after 50 jokes they think are hilarious, followed closely by emails wherein the subject lines read a variation of: “[insert your mom’s name] wants you to take action to ‘Tell Congress Military Working Dogs are Not Equipment!’”
But then it hits you: If they’re old, it means you’re old, too.
This violent realization hit me, not when I turned 30, but when my mom scheduled a colonoscopy for herself and my dad. They happened to book it on the morning after their 30th wedding anniversary. When I called to find out how they were celebrating, my dad took the opportunity to tell me how, instead of eating steak and drinking wine over a candlelight dinner, they’d be fasting on a horrid concoction of doctor-prescribed laxatives. I think my dad’s exact words were, “We’ll be on the toilet all night, shitting our brains out.” How romantic.
So if they’re “seniors,” it must mean I’m an adult, right? I look around though, and I don’t see any adults. I see young people doing things adults do, but not really. HOA sounds more to me like a disease than an association I’d like to be a part of. My friend’s kid comes up to me often and says, “Ask your mom if you can have a sleepover.”
I hear it’s a good outlook, this kind of perennial, unceasing idea that we are in the process of getting older, of dying, without ever being old. My nana just turned 90 but she has been telling everyone she is 39 for the past 30 years. But if the adults think of themselves as kids until it’s time to schedule their first colonoscopy, then who are the adults?