By Genevieve A. Suzuki | Gen-X in a Millennial World
My youth apparently had an expiration date.
Prior to turning 42, I would get carded every now and then at a restaurant or grocery store. “May I see your ID?” was commonplace for me. I got pretty used to reaching for proof of age when out with friends.
Suddenly last year everyone accepted the fact I’m older than 21. That quiet acceptance wouldn’t be too bad if other signs of aging weren’t so blaringly obvious.
“Where’d all these white hairs come from,” I asked my husband the other day.
“Huh?” he asked, glancing up from browsing the latest news on his phone.
“These!” I said, pulling at each hair springing from the part in my hair. “Where’d they come from? And why are they so wiry?!”
“Huh,” he said, turning back to his phone.
Weird thing, those white hairs. I don’t quite understand why they only grow to one-third the length of my regular strands and why they feel three times as thick. I always thought I would grow old gracefully with silver streaks slowly showing up as though I had been to a salon that focused on silver highlights.
I didn’t consider the possibility I’d look like a Silkie Chicken.
Aging also means my social circle’s diets have changed drastically. Where we used to sit around noshing french fries, fatty burgers and milkshakes, we now have to be selective of our choices.
“I’ll have the burger, no fries and unsweetened iced tea,” I said the other day at the drive-thru, grimacing at the resulting heartburn a couple of hours later. Even a burger can do severe damage nowadays.
And then there’s the music. If ever you are wondering whether you’re in the younger crowd, stop and listen to what the grocery store is playing on its loudspeakers.
One of my favorite singers of my youth is Debbie Gibson. “Ohmigosh, Quinn!” I told my 9-year-old daughter while on a trip to pick up low-carb snacks. “Listen to this song! Isn’t it cool!”
“Uhhhh, I guess … ?” she said.
As we walked the aisles, I sang along to one of Debbie’s lesser known hits, “We Could Be Together.” Then it hit me. My music had become Muzak — background music played in shops and restaurants.
Still hopeful, I found the song on iTunes and played it for Quinn in the car.
“Oh man, Mom, can we listen to something else?”
I smiled and switched it up, but on the inside, sixth-grade Gen sobbed.
Sitting in Starbucks on Baltimore Drive the other day, all I heard above was music from when I was younger. Blondie and A-ha took turns crooning while I sat with my fellow café-goers at 7 a.m. on a bright Sunday morning. (This was another warning sign. No one under 40 goes to hang out at Starbucks before 7 a.m. on a weekend.)
That’s it. I had crossed over. I was like Carol Anne from “Poltergeist,” except the light I was being called to was middle age and no one was crying for me to stay. Not Debbie, who now goes by Deborah Gibson, not my friends with their cholesterol and sugar limitations, and not my husband, who shrugged at the weird white hairs.
The final nail in the proverbial coffin was when I actually realized the last thing I wanted to do was relive my 20s. My youthful, often naïve, ideals may have been fun, but they’re nothing compared to the spectator sport I now enjoy in watching my own kids hatch their dreams and youthful, naïve ideals.
So for a few years I’ll just have to accept an existence without having to show proof of age. That is, until I start asking for my senior discount at those 7 a.m. coffee hours.
—Genevieve A. Suzuki is a local attorney who lives and works in La Mesa.