15 Things That Happen After You Turn 50
I believe in conspiracies. Or at least, this conspiracy: The magazines and newspapers I love most are out to get me. That’s because I can no longer read the print without donning my Mr. Magoo glasses. I mean, seriously, what’s your problem,New York Times? Do you really think that by keeping the print so small that only 25-year-olds can read you, that you are fooling anyone about the age of your readership? At any rate…what was my point? Oh, right: If you are playing detective and want to know if there is someone over 50 in any home, look for drugstore magnifying glasses scattered everywhere. Also, look for them in the freezer, because that’s probably where we left them. (Looking for even more ways to have your best year ever? Try the today.)
Now that you've zoomed in to make this type larger ("Command" and "+," how did you not already know that?), here are a few other things that happen once you turn 50.
You're a much cheaper date.
That's because your capacity for drinking is diminished—or at least, your capacity for drinking without wanting to die the next morning.
Your skin will get caught in your wristwatch closure.
OK, that bites. You think,Why is this happening? Then it will happen again. And again. And then you notice that if you pinch a bit of skin, it stays in that pinched position for a very long time. Laxity, people. And skin thinning. Thank you, lack of estrogen. We can tighten the skin on our faces, of course, but it takes real dedication to get a wrist lift.
Why am I in this room?
It is an almost universal experience: You realize you need something upstairs in the bedroom, you get to the bedroom...and then you stare into space. You'd be better off trying to recall an 11th-grade trigonometry equation than remembering what you needed in that room. With much less space available on the hard drive that is our brain, our short-term memory is easily shanghaied. But don't worry. It is normal not to remember where you put your keys occasionally. (It is not normal to ask yourselfWhat's a key?)
A corollary: It's too humiliating to ask neighbors their names because you've asked 20 times before and you still can't remember. "I think of being in my 50s as the Honey Years," says the writer Julia Johnson. "Hi, Honey! is a cover for everything."
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The floor is farther away.
Just a little. Imperceptibly. But for the first time, you weigh the question: Is it worth picking up that penny? You still do, of course, because it's bad luck not to. But if there's a stray Cheerio on the floor...well, that's why you have a dog.
As my friend Beth puts it, "I interruptLaw and Orderat the critical juncture to ask my husband, 'WHAT did he say?' and then we both miss the denouement." It's not as simple as diminished hearing; it's making out sounds when there's noise elsewhere. This is why there is such a thing as the Early Bird Special. It's not like you want to eat earlier when you're older; it's that you want to be in a place that's not so crowded you can't hear your companion. (The good news: red wine might preserve hearing. Cheers!)
You believe your digestive system is an interesting topic of conversation.
A word here: It is not. Ever.
Sex is much worse.
Or is sex much better? There is so much variation here. For some of us, waning estrogen levels may cause vaginal dryness, pain, lack of desire. On the other hand, smaller levels of estrogen relative to the testosterone that's naturally in our bodies may mean our partners suddenly look like George Clooney to us. "When you were in your 20s, every man was supposed to be the Amazing Kreskin, mind-melding with you, knowing exactly how you wanted to be touched," says one friend. "As you get older, well, seriously, who needs a lot of fumbling? A) You're more confident, and B) you don't have that much time." If you're with a partner around your own age or older, so much the better. Older bodies, with their folds and softness, actually feel really good. And touch matters more than ever, since neither of you can see that well anyway.
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The weight game, male edition (according to science writer Patrick diJusto).
2001: I need to lose about 20 pounds, better hit the gym. (One month later) Yessssss!
2007: I need to lose about 30 pounds, better hit the gym. (Two months later) OK, I still need to lose about 15 pounds.
2015: I need to lose about 40 pounds, better hit the gym. (Two months later) I need to lose about 45 pounds.
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Celebrity magazines are filled with pretty strangers.
There was a time when I could open any celebrity magazine and check in on all my favorites. Now, sure, I may have heard of Ryan Gosling (barely), and be happy for him that he is so in love with Eva Mendes. And I know about Adele, though why everyone under 40 wants to cry hysterically when they plug into their iPod is a little beyond me. Chrissy Teigen, I'm very glad you're having a baby. Who the hell are you? (Also: You could have given birth to the Sexiest Man Alive, so you feel a little guilty even looking.)
You really, really don't care that no one likes the things you collect but you.
There used to be a certain level of shame attached to my life-size parrot toilet-paper holder. I hit 50, and now I want one in every bathroom of my house. And you know why this is? Because you've been through some stuff—sometimes lots of stuff—and you really know, in a visceral way, that pleasing other people is for the birds. "Having gone through breast cancer (age 50), surgery to remove a benign brain tumor (age 52), and a hysterectomy (age 55), one might think that I'd consider my 50s to have been pretty difficult," says Joanne Goldwater, associate dean of studies at St. Mary's College in Maryland. "They would be wrong. I feel stronger and able to face life's challenges better than when I was younger. I'm not as easily rattled." (PS, Joanne collects glass dolphins and fruits. And lighthouses. And cats. Got a problem with that?)
You may have slightly lost hearing and eyesight, but you gain this thing called perspective.
Me: I have a cold.
Friend: Oh, poor baby. Are you drinking a lot of liquids? Getting rest?
Me: I have a cold.
Friend: Really? Well, I have cancer, so shut up.
(OK, maybe we don't say this. But you're a little less likely to whine about the small things. And for good reason; every day you wake up and don't have something awful is a good day.)
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You shrug off the small stuff.
Perhaps you diligently go for your mammograms and colonoscopies. But—well, for example, earlier today I shaved off one eyebrow, because I watched a YouTube video on brow grooming and failed to take into account that the person demonstrating the comb/trimmer method had vision that did not require progressive lenses. He just had eyes that work. I hate him.
One really bad thing.
There's a good chance your parents are gone, so you're no longer anyone's child.
One really good thing.
Your kids are probably old enough not to hate you anymore.
And one really important thing.
Young people really don't like to see you dance.
You dance anyway.
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