Friday, May 13, 2016

turning the world on, with wrinkle cream

I loved Mary Tyler Moore show re-runs when I was a kid. I loved Mary's independence, and her flailing, and her friendship with Rhoda, and most of all the theme song and Mary's youthful zest at the end of it, spinning in a circle and flinging her tam in the air. When I think of that show, I think how odd it was that everyone, including ingenue Mary, was old. Submitted as evidence, this cast photo from the first season in 1970: 

in today's TV universe, all of these people are straight up old. 

Ed Asner, in particular, was an OLD MAN and his character Lou Grant was an OLD MAN. In the second season there's a whole episode about Lou being old, out of touch, and irrelevant. That episode is called "The 45 Year Old Man." Watching it today, and seeing the title, I got a little queasy. I am older than Lou Grant (no, don't bother pointing out that there is no Lou Grant).


I spend an embarrassing amount of time concerned about my age, concerned about (not) looking my age, and attached to being youthful. I'm extremely grateful for good genes, though it contributes to my confusion that my parents don't "look their age" and my grandmothers never "looked their age." We live in a world in which 30 year olds play high schoolers on TV and we're told "it's just a number" but billions of dollars are spent encouraging us to spend other billions of dollars defying and disguising that number. What does 35 or 48 or 56 look like anyway? Never mind 74 or 92 or 101. And then there's that looming round number steaming towards me. 

Part of me - the aware, compassionate, "our culture is broken and needs a total revolution" part hates that this is even a subject I'm indulging. There are real issues in the world. What matters to me is social justice, and safe spaces, and creative expression, and being part of a tide that raises all boats, and ... oh crap that other part won't shut up. 

The damn other part - that part wants to be seen and celebrated and successful within this warped culture. That part misses hearing "No way, you can't have adult sons," and being carded and being the youngest anything anywhere. I don't want to look good "for my age" - I want my compliments without qualifiers. I fuss over chin hairs and crows feet and sags. And, apparently I'm having reactions to 46 year old tv shows. 

Lou Grant was OLD. Mrs. Walton was OLD. My Grade 1 teacher was practically a fossil. They were all younger than I am now. That hurts, but what hurts more is that I even care. 
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