Cartouche's Blog

Writing My Way Out of Something


Someplace, somewhere else, USA
February 09
Mind My Own Business
Artist, former newspaper columnist and restaurant critic. Award-winning author of "In Pursuit of Excellence". In my spare minute I can be found blogging here, on Huffington Post and other places that don't pay and (more often) writing for some places that do. Occasionally I tweet random thoughts and observations as @nonconfromist. I keep the really good ones to myself.


FEBRUARY 11, 2011 8:03AM

What I Learned AFTER 50

Rate: 77 Flag

Now that I’ve had a little more than a year to settle into my current role, I think I can look back upon it with some degree of knowledge and intelligence.  That I am officially part of that horrid demographic known as “50 Plus!” (it’s the stupid exclamation point that irks me to no end), I want you to know that there are nuggets of wisdom you glean only by having gone beyond the mid-century mark. In no particular order, some lessons I learned after 50:

The mail doesn’t arrive any earlier. There’s no need to race out to the mailbox for letters that aren’t coming.  The bills won’t be any less (or fewer) if you keep looking out the window and then run to greet your carrier. This lesson gets totally lost after 70.  For some, it’s the only thing people look forward to other than a doctor’s appointment.

You are never going to be a better dancer than you were before.  Worse, you are never going to be an attractive drunk dancer. Stick to drinking only.

The world is as much of a mess now as it was 20 years ago.  For some reason, you get a bigger urge to clean it up.  Talking more loudly in an attempt to do so is no replacement for an Oreck vacuum cleaner. 

The mirror is no longer your best friend.  It becomes more like an older relative you hadn’t seen in years.  That he or she now shows up every day is kind of freaky.

It's easier to find sex than it is love.  But it's also easier to determine that it was bad much more quickly and save you lots of time and money. 

You require about a third of the calories you did in your 30’s to sustain all the weight you have piled on since.  Loose hips sink ships.  I’m an anchor.

If your eyesight hasn’t gone, your hearing probably will.  Since I’m nearly blind already without my glasses, I’ve basically just stopped listening.  Nobody wants to hear what I have to say anyway unless it’s, “Check, please.”

Your bodily functions are of no interest to anyone but your doctor or you.  While letting a fart slip when you were a teenager was funny, it’s horrifying when you discover that places like the movies serve as a warm-up room for the rectal orchestra.  That you are considering auditioning because of what you just ate for lunch indicates a tune up for your diet is in order.

That story you just told was not particularly interesting the first time around.  Repeating it over and over again won’t make it more so.  It’s not so much that we are becoming obsolete, as we are boring.  Why do you think we yawn at 10 in the morning in the presence of our own company?

Nobody cares what you used to do unless it meant that money came with it and that you gave it away to others.  Conversely, nobody cares how much money you saved or have now unless you are planning on sharing it.  It’s easier to get money from a Nigerian than it is from someone over 50.  We become hoarders of it.

AARP will barrage you with ads of happy, healthy, beautiful, fun loving, fit people enjoying the hell out of their golden years.  You will never see any of these people in public.  Cut out the pictures and put them in frames.  Tell visitors they’re your relatives.  If anyone asks, tell them your good looks come from years of being a stay-at-home highly unpaid writer.

Stop looking for love.  It’s like trying to remember where you put your keys.  When you find either, you usually are just as relieved as you are disappointed for being so stupid. 

Let love find you.  Get yourself a pet and call it a day.  Since a single dog year equals seven human ones, eight years from now, you’ll both be the same age and can enjoy your advanced age together.

And you can blame the gas on him.

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You just barely turned fifty. You've learned a lot in that year, cookie.
Patricia, this is great! I always remember what my grandfather said: "the golden years aren't so golden."
Love it! rectal orchestra hehehehe...
This is perfect. I used to be the most impatient person on earth, rushing to do everything. Now, I wonder, what's the rush...I've got the patience of Job... kinda.
Gas giveth the newborn a smile and the fifty-plusser denial.
Having turned 50 in July I understand this. We already blame our two dogs regularly for all of my husbands [56] bodily functions he now shares openly. Thanks for the suggestion, I will definitely cut out those pictures of the happy, healthy tennis-playing seniors and put them in frames. I recently went to a matinee shownig of "No strings attached" and looked around me: all seniors watching soft porn.

Kinda weird.
Well said, amusing, insightful.
You are better now that you are older, or as the saying goes, "have more life experience."

I find that people perceive as younger, not by my looks, but by my attitude. When I told a 30 something colleague about my 6 year old grandson, she said, "you're to young to be a grandfather."

As long as your attitude stays you will be too.
Nice summary cartouche. I remember my bemusement a couple of years ago at getting a special Nifty 50 hotel price in Morro Bay.

My close friends and I have a pact to sharply remind anyone who starts repeating stories. I don't know if that trait in unavoidable but we're hoping forewarned if forearmed.
First of all, Happy Birthday a bit late!
Secondly, this was so funny and well written.
I am certain there will be more lessons and I can only hope you will share them as well!
I'll be 53 this year, and I don't disagree with any of these. One thing that might be an improvement, for me at least, is being less concerned about what other people think, so I feel freer to dance badly on occasion.
If I had a nickel for every time I've awakened with a hangover and said to myself, "Oh, that's right. I danced last night," I'd have lots of nickels.

I'm 48, and yesterday at my physical, it took the doctor ten minutes to identify various moles and discolorations and reassure me none were cancerous.

Nothing like peace of mind for a fifty-year-old. Nice work.
I keep thinking, for that repeating stories thing, that I should carry a notebook around with me and make a note of who I've told what anecdote to.

However, my friends are more or less contemporaries, and they forget they've heard 'em all before...
I love this post and can readily identify with every word. The only thing that prevents me from being totally invisible is the phrase - 'check please'.
Congratulations to making it to the Half Century mark. Now your challenge, should you accept it, is to defy time and live your life without any of the "expectations" associated with being Fifty Plus. Irreverence towards life has its own rewards, which our mothers never told us. Cheers to a new dawn.
Cartouche, you described this so perfectly. I haven't done as well as you. I'm still in denial. When aarp stuff comes in the mail I throw it in the trash. I particularly like this: "The mirror is no longer your best friend. It becomes more like an older relative you hadn’t seen in years. That he or she now shows up every day is kind of freaky."
Freaky, indeed. xo ~r
Agree on the last para, not the second to last, based on anecdotal experience. I think we learn in a geometrically progressive way as we age, so there's lots left to learn. And as for mirrors, f... 'em.
Damn you are old!
Funny stuff~
What? No finally settled in and so comfortable with your self and all your bodily changes while having the best sex of your life stuff?!

I'm not there yet but thanks for letting me know what I have to look forward too ...;)
You put fun back into fifty. Those pictures of sexy attractive Photoshopped AARP models strolling down the beach aren't what it really looks like. It looks like this: funny creative woman blogging and quick witted readers commenting, nodding our heads in support. That is much more fun than spending several hours doing my hair and makeup and color coordinating an outfit so I can go to the beach in perfect light and walk a few feet.
Yeah, but consider the alternative! Funny post. Loved the line about the mirror. Everytime I look at mine I see my maternal grandmother looking back. Weird as she's been dead for 17 years.

LOVED this post!

And there's only one thing more depressing than being 50+ and looking for love: watching 50+ ANYbody chasing after love. It's TOO hard to watch: desperate older people showing up w/that "I NEED LOVE" neon sign flashing from their foreheads.

Totally agree w/getting love from pets. Actually, they're a better deal: they don't cheat on you, and you can always count on them.
Thank you for the wisdom. Can the dog be replaced by a cat?
So how was your bowel movement this morning?

I love this: "...places like the movies serve as a warm-up room for the rectal orchestra. That you are considering auditioning because of what you just ate for lunch indicates a tune up for your diet is in order."

I've decided to take the brass and percussion sections out of my orchestra and leave just the strings.
Wait till after 50 gets to be longer than before
Good writing.

Is that rectal archestra made up of OS band members?
"a warm-up room for the rectal orchestra" Ah -- we could make such beautiful music together
I assure you, cartouche, the lessons just keep piling up. By my age (66) one learns to stay out of movie theaters and ask "Have I told you this story?" about three words into it. I makes one very popular among the eye-rolling set. :)

"Let love find you. Get yourself a pet and call it a day. Since a single dog year equals seven human ones, eight years from now, you’ll both be the same age and can enjoy your advanced age together.

And you can blame the gas on him."

I'm not quite at 50 yet, but I've learned that truer words here have never been written/spoken. :D
I avoid looking in mirrors, especially full-length ones, and can honestly say that I have less wisdom now than at any other time in my life. But as the sane woman who shares my demented mother's room in the nursing home likes to say, "Any day when I wake up and I'm still above ground is a good day."
Fifty never bothered me, it was the old people card I got at 62 that said Medicare on it and the way it was delivered from my 15 year old who said, " Daddy your old people card is here." No respect for their elders these days. You look just marvelous Patricia although I would have to say O"Really is the cuter one. Be well my friend......o/e
One thing I really like about being over 50 is that my brain evokes more interest from both myself and others than my body.
Fifty is better than dead--I think.
I love my Oreck. Sadly, what you say is true. Happily, you say it so bloody well it is a pleasure to read and does not hurt as much to believe:)
Good to know what's coming . . .
I've had this fantasy that I would meet you someday. After all, you once commented on a post of mine "You wouldnt say that if you saw my ass first" when I wrote about someone whose writings made me want to meet them.
Now you tell me "Loose hips sink ships. I’m an anchor."
Another disillusionment of my old age.
But I'd still like to meet you. And your dog.
50 is the new 30 - allegedly.
good list, patricia, and you're a quick study. i'm pretty sure i didn't have most of these figured out until i'd been 50 for almost ten years. (though i'm still not cool with that mirror thing, true as it is.)
Hey, I'm more than 50. I'm going to let one rip if I feel like it. I've earned it.
I love the dog suggestion! I think it applies to any age...
Oh, to be fifty again! Thanks, I needed a little perspective!
So, this is what I've got to look forward to in less than two years?! You certainly have learned a lot in such a short time. Thanks for the laughs!
I was the 50th person to rate this. How about that number!
loved those last lines!!
We all know, to our respectives cores, "it's all good" is wishful thinking.

I'll try not to be immortalized as a go-to bummer by concluding with: this was a very circumspect post. (Wanders off singing "Sunrise, Sunset.")
respectives, respective. You say tomato.
Yet more proof (as if we needed any) that you're a very quick study. You've got the 50's nailed, I hope to know you long enough to hear about our 60's too. (Is it really possible we're using those numbers?? Oy). And why is it that '50' sounds so much younger than 'half a century'?

I just try to laugh or cough just loud enough to cover the sound of pfffttz which invariably accompanies an unexpected blart of hilarity.

This is the Cartouche writing I remember of old, reminiscent of ... the old days. Toot funny, P.
This is wonderfully hysterical and insightful. I would excerpt some of my favorite pearls, but I don't think you'd like it if I just copied the whole "thang" and pasted it in my comment.

You really ought to submit this (and many of your other essays) to some of the mags, like More, LHJ, etc. They actually pay something for them.

BIG R (so I can see it myself)
"50 Plus!" - doesn't that sound like a trademark? And for what kind of product, I wonder?

Great posting. Rated.
Amazing writing from an amazing lady. Your attitude and humour are a great advert for the talents and wisdom of the over fifties.
Very well stated...and I do blame the gas on the dogs.
R+f+facebook linked!

I laughed out loud. Could be a stand-up comedy routine.
10 years ago at the age of 51, I went skydiving like I did when I was younger. It turned into a ditch digging event, head first at 40mph. Big Owie. No more skydiving. Cigar smoking seemed more my speed...which was zero. I discovered that a painless youth was taken for granted. I discovered there was no sympathy coming my way...just clucking tongues for being stupid. My 50's were experimenting with the right meds that would not make me drool.
So now I merged my passion and a career. Writing about cigars. It's the perfect, unwanted, repellent for women. I carry around Febreze in my pocket. And mints in the other pocket. I am used to the crinkled mouth and the shake of the head when women find out what I do.
But guess what, it makes me happy and I haven't had enough happy in my life until now. (Disclaimer: I don't smoke in front of women)
Okay, I admit, I fought it for a couple of years when I turned 50. I mean, 50? Really? Then, I just said, "F**k it," and went with it and I'm actually okay with it now. It does help, a lot, to have such fascinating contemporaries surrounding me (here on OS, thank God for OS!)

This is really good, Patricia. Clever and oh, so familiar.

Perfect....I had to smile at this, it was great. One thing I have learned is take pictures now because you just aren't ever going to look better than you do right now and 20 years from now you can look at those pictures and think, "I was hot in my 50s"...
This was Erma Bombeckian fun, and since I saw a pic of you in a fedora on a certain magazine cover recently... I know that you're really fine at/with 50 :)
Priceless Patricia! Hope you don't mind if I print this and frame it.
I am afraid of you and in awe of you at the same time. You are a mere rookie in the sport of the 50s, yet you have a wisdom that is decades ahead of the rest of us who have been there for a while.

Oh hell yeah, Zumapick and intent to steal content.
Patricia, well well done!

As one who is turning .... 68!.... late Feb. i will say I am amazed this can happen to anyone.

But I hated most 65. Something about that number really was a downer. Ditto: 69 and 70 and onwards. So I am celebrating 68 as a magical number and a time when i am still alright. That should give you some perspective. I bet you are gorgeous and being funny more than not. 50 is kid stuff.
Patricia, well well done!

As one who is turning .... 68!.... late Feb. i will say I am amazed this can happen to anyone.

But I hated most 65. Something about that number really was a downer. Ditto: 69 and 70 and onwards. So I am celebrating 68 as a magical number and a time when i am still alright. That should give you some perspective. I bet you are gorgeous and being funny more than not. 50 is kid stuff.
I'm about to turn 60 and I still can't find my glasses!
Being in my extremely late 40's. . . . .all I can say is that every single word of this is TOTALLY true!
Oh, you're still a wee lass. I'm hitting the big 6-0 in a couple weeks and for some reason, I'm not upset about it. I blame senility.
Loved this, Cartouche. Particularly the last bit about blaming the dawg. I am definitely down with that.
You preaching to the choir, right behind you and I can see your words clearly through the windshield. R
There's more stuff to learn.
If you have to limp or use a cane to get somewhere, you don't need to pretend it's just temporary.
If people make you wait, it's okay to meditate in public.
You get over all those assumptions that other people want to help you, or be fair, or even do good work.
If you need a nap, take it.
Learn breathing techniques that will up your energy.
You can learn to let gas out of your intestines quietly.
You must exercise every morning to feel like you can get through the day.
If you don't talk often, and take the time to plan your words, you can hold the interest of others, briefly. You may get them angry, but they will hear you.
The best thing is that your writing will improve. You have more patience for rewrite, for cutting good scenes that don't further the story, for doing the necessary research, and for applying DMSO to the parts that hurt.
I am at my late twenties but already i found what you say are so true. I have been running after love for about 10 years since i was 19, it seemed that love was the only thing i could care about. But now after having everything, i became so exhausted and dissapointed and am determined to let it all go if it wants to...

Liked your post

Warm regards from China
particularly apreciate your single strike approach to love and gas.
Half the time I can't remember why I've walked into a room. And I still have a few months to go before that mid-century mark. But I can see I have much to look forward to.
Very humorous post! Love it. ;)
Adding my voice to the Greek chorus, I must say that it was very well done. Don't understand your preference for the Oreck, however. It is over-priced.
You will never see any of these people in public. LOL. God knows I've been looking! I wonder what I bother staying in shape for!
Amen. Been there, but now I'm even older than that. I'm almost invisible and i don't mean that in a bad way - very Zen-like, actually. The thirst for accomplishment still nags me from time to time but then I just turn on the boob tube.
or take a nap --- oh yeah, naps!
These are all gems. I the dancing one and I fear this might be true...OMG what am I to do now?
This is so endearing, it's crazy. I feel like I'm already 50 or maybe it's just that I identify with being a kook. rated
That's a lot of wisdom for such a young gal. I need some of those now, at 43. I already do the gas thing! I guess I'm (at last!!!) a prodigy!
Loved this piece...and oh how true.
Good comments. You have learned so much. I bet you will really be wise at 65.
Damn...missed this last week (when I could have used a heartfelt belly laugh). Loved it.
How do you know when your 50? Shopping list 1st item is
1. Milk of Magnesia
2. Depends
A great piece. 55+ still learning and loving...