Yesterday was my birthday. I don’t say that to solicit additional attention of any kind (though attention is always welcome :-). I mention it solely because I, apparently, have reached a milepost in my chronological evolution. I have reached that dreaded point where people no longer tell you that you look good. Yesterday, someone said to me,
“You look good for your age.”
For your age…. yesterday those words became some of the ugliest words in the English language. They’re right up there with “thunder thighs” and “Newt Gingrich for President.” They’re the kind of words that hit you like a swift kick to the nuts, leaving your ego bruised and your confidence battered. They’re words that ruthlessly pulverize any fragile delusions you might have had that maybe your many years don’t yet show and that that cute guy at the café was checking out your ass and not your skirt balled up in the top of your nylons. (God, I hate when that happens.)
For your age…when people say those words, they usually intend to flatter. Usually they’re too young and naive to realize that tacking on those three, vicious little syllables negates all the good that came before them. “You look great for your age.” “You’re in excellent shape for your age.” “You’re surprisingly lucid for your age” are simply kind and gentle ways of saying “It’s great you haven’t given up yet, grandma.” In fact, that’s all those of us on the receiving end of these well-intentioned compliments hear. “You’re old, you’re old, you’re old.”
For your age…it’s a label, a dividing line separating the hot and youthful from the not hot and youthful. Even if you’re hot for your age, you no longer inhabit the same category as those flirty, toned, jiggle-in-all-the-right-places sex pots who get the bartender’s attention without trying, while you wave and try desperately to make eye contact and finally resort to audible whines, angry gestures, and weeping to get him to acknowledge your presence (guess I can’t go back to that TGI Fridays). Hot for your age can’t pull off a spandex tube top and daisy dukes without looking a little (who am I kidding) looking a lot like a walking mid-life crisis. No, once you’re “______ for your age” you have left the land of the nubile and hopped on the train to fogey-ville.
For your age…the only time that phrase isn’t an insult is when you’re under 20, and it’s used with words like “smart” or “mature.” No one’s going to burst into tears if you say, “You’re wise for your age.” In this case, for your age means you’re better than you ought to be, as opposed to not as bad as one would expect. It’s like saying you’re Justin Bieber, as opposed to saying you’re, well, Justin Bieber.
For your age…in the grand scheme of things, I know those words are really no big deal. We all must face them someday, and gladly. I mean, what’s the alternative? “She was too young to die”? When it comes to age, for beats too any day.
I have no point to make here, by the way. I have no insight to offer, no profound truth to peddle. I just had to vent. Guess I’m a little cranky for my age; good thing I’m too old to care.