When I am an old woman, I’m going to wear a ridiculous string bikini when I go to the beach or a pool. My varicose veins, wrinkles, saggy bits or rolly bits offend you? Deal with it. I won’t care—all I’ll want is to feel the sun on every part of me.
When I am an old woman, I’ll dye my hair pink—or maybe old lady brown if that’s what I want—or maybe I’ll let it be sparse and grey. Or maybe I’ll have a collection of wigs. Oh, yeah. Wigs. I could totally rock a wig collection. Beehives. Betty Boos. A Marilyn Monroe, and an entire shelf of Lady Gagas…
I’ll probably trade my collection of fuck-me heels for all sorts of sensible shoes—but I’ll paint my toes all the colours of the rainbow. And wear toe rings. Ha!
I’ll wear ridiculous costume jewelry. And a fannypack. Or maybe, I’ll finally develop a taste and passion for tiny purses. And purse dogs? Or I’ll have 12 cats. Anything could happen.
I’m not a hundred per cent sure what kind of old woman I’m going to be, but there is one thing about my old age I can promise you right now—the promise I want to make, right now, today, to my children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren. And to yours, too. And it’s this:
When I am an old woman, I’m going to love young people.
Or, to put it another way: When I am an old woman, I’m not going to sit around talking about how young people today suck.
Children, grandchildren, I promise: I’m going to love you, and I am not going to slag, abuse and dismiss your generation, because it is different—younger—than my own.
Old people have always abused young people. You know? The so-called “traditionalists” hated the baby boomers. The baby boomers can’t stand millennialists; don’t understands Gen-X. “Young people today are no good!” “They know nothing!” “Ungrateful!” “Entitled!” “Spoiled rotten!”
Nothing new, of course. There’s graffiti from Ancient Rome to that effect, and I bet 40-year-old Cro-Magnons sat around their fires at night abusing the young ‘uns. “Those spears they insist on using! What the hell’s wrong with bludgeoning an animal to death with a stone the way we used to do it?” “I know! And have you seen how they’re stitching the skins together instead of just loping them over their shoulders? What’s up with that?”
D’you know how you know you’re getting old? It’s not a chronological thing. It’s when you start to hate young people. It’s when you start to say things like “children these days are so badly brought up,” and “what the heck are those mothers thinking?” and “don’t get me started on teenagers today” and “in my day, we used to know how to work.”
Yeah. D’you know why you’re saying that? Entire books have been and will be written about that, but let me boil it down to this: you’re peaking and passing your prime, and you see them coming up behind you, and into their power and it scares the shit out of you.
It’d be funny if it weren’t so pathetic—because, no matter how much you slam young people, no matter how much you belittle them and their values, the end game is this: you’re getting older and older.
You’re gonna die. They’re going to take over.
And you’re going to spend your evening days bitching about how they’re mucking it all up.
Cause you—you’ve done such a stellar job of it in your time, eh?
Anyway. That’s not going to be me. Me, when I’m an old woman, I’m going to love young people. I’m going to think they’re amazing. Because, see, I already do. When I look at my children, and their friends: fuck. Blown away. These little souls think in amazing ways. Love in ways most of my generation is not capable of. When I look at my older friends’ children—their teenagers, their twenty-somethings who are coming into their own as adults right now: they rock. They’re moving into new frontiers, charting new life paths, taking career and professional risks their parents couldn’t have imagined. They’re amazing.
Not unilaterally amazing, of course. I’m not one of these fuzzy-wuzzy people who love all humanity, definitely not a natural-born humanitarian. I know my children’s generation is full of wankers, losers and assholes. But so is mine. And so, dear Great-Aunt Augusta, is yours. Frankly, you’re not such an awesome prize yourself, dear. You’re judgemental, narrow-minded, terrifyingly selfish and, how to I put it not-so-gently? Racist.
I’ll take the wankers, losers and assholes of my generation—and of my children’s generation—over the median of what defined “normal” and was acceptable in yours anytime.
And when I’m an old woman—I’m going to love young people. I might not understand their values or passions or technologies. I might not like their clothes and music. But I’m not going to dismiss everything they love, do and make as worthless or somehow lacking because it’s different from what I loved, did and made.
I’m going to love them.
Why the rerun? Nothing By The Book is taking a page from old school un-social media and doing a rerun summer, while I spend the hot days getting a tan, running through sprinkles, selling one book, writing another, reading two dozen more, neglecting my garden, falling in love, jumping off cliffs—you know. Everything but blogging. But, you get reruns of my favourite stuff, so everyone wins. Likely keeping up with Instagram—NothingByTheBook—connect there, if you like? Or Twitter—Follow @nothingbtbook or/and Follow @paddleink.