Writers much funnier than me have chronicled the wretched milestones of growing old: getting your first membership solicitation from AARP, hair showing up in places you never knew you even had follicles, not to mention jokes about memory, hearing, and [insert your preferred dysfunction here].
These are all the major milestones of growing old. They’re kind of like automobile accidents, where time slows down, you can see they’re about to happen, and you can’t do a darn thing about it. I was reminded of this last week when an orthopedist diagnosed me with arthritis, but typical of a Baby Boomer with a charmed life, it’s currently limited to one knuckle in one pinky.
But it got me thinking that, on the long and winding, slippery and dangerous road of life, for every major milestone, there is also a minor millstone – a burdensome change that you carry with you into old age. Here, then, are a few of Middle Age Cranky’s favorite milestones and un-favorite millstones.
Major milestone: Your first driver’s license
Minor millstone: The realization you dislike driving at night
Major milestone: Your first R-rated movie
Minor millstone: The realization your butt can’t sit through a double feature
Major milestone: Staying up until midnight on New Years’ Eve
Minor millstone: Falling asleep before midnight on New Years’ Eve
Major milestone: Your first black-tie affair
Minor millstone: The realization you’d really rather stay home
Major milestone: Discovering the hottest new rock group
Minor millstone: Deciding that all contemporary music is just noise
Major milestone: Moving from a pediatrician to an internist
Minor millstone: Moving from internists to podiatrists, periodontists, pulmonologists, and a plethora of other specialists
Major milestone: Earning enough to eat at any fancy restaurant in the city
Minor millstone: Realizing that almost everything really good gives you heartburn at 2 a.m.
Major milestone: Your first new car
Minor millstone: Realizing that you prefer an older car to monthly payments
Major milestone: Having enough leisure time to read anything you want
Minor millstone: Realizing that most magazine art directors are 27 and love to (1) put non-contrasting type on colorful background or (2) use fonts sponsored by magnifying glass manufacturers
Major milestone: Setting aside your first IRA
Minor millstone: Realizing it didn’t appreciate and wondering how people actually live on social security
Major milestone: Having an accountant do your taxes for the first time
Minor millstone: Wishing there was a profession that could explain Medicare Part B
Major milestone: Any birthday ending in zero
Minor millstone: All the others that follow