AgingInAmerica

~Joseph Scrimshaw

Like most humans, I’ve been doing some aging.

To pass the time while getting older against my will, I’ve been thinking about how we think about aging in America.

We tend to look at old people as though they were born that way–like they just popped into existence wrinkled and angry and riding scooters and clutching enormous purses that organically grow hard butterscotch candies.

But people aren’t born old. It’s not like being Scandinavian or left-handed. If we’re lucky, we’ll all become old eventually.

We know this is true intellectually, but we all seem to believe it won’t happen to us. It’s like when you arrive somewhere and there are a bunch of people standing around the door and you think, “It must be locked.” But you try it anyway, as though you were THE ONE who could figure it out.

But, no, the door is locked and you will get old. And it will piss you off.

I used to wonder why old people were so cranky. Then I realized it’s because they’re not old people.

They are young people trapped in the body of a monster.

I know that sounds mean. But we treat old people like monsters. We’re frightened of them. If the world was suddenly full of billboards that read AMERICAN HORROR STORY: THE ELDERLY we would all just go along with it.

A few weeks ago, I observed an old, angry monster-person at the Kinko’s in Hollywood.

Quick side note—I used to work at Kinko’s. I know Kinko’s. It’s not called Kinko’s anymore, it’s FedEx Office. It’s been FedEx Office for years, but everyone still calls it Kinko’s. Which I love. It’s like a scar we can’t forget. Kinko’s is like if Satan came to earth and was like, “Look, I know I’m obviously Satan, but for branding reasons could you all please just call me Steve?” And we’re all like, “Fuck off, Satan. We know what you are.”

That’s what Kinko’s is like.

Anyway, I went to Kinko’s or Satan’s FedEx or whatever you want to call it and there was a ruckus because there was an old man sitting in a chair at the counter. He yelled at the poor guy working at Kinko’s. He made it crystal clear he wasn’t going to move until he got his copies. A long line formed. A young dude in the line with a peace symbol neck tattoo tried to reason with the old man. He said, “Come on, man, this Kinko’s dude is just trying to do his job.”

The old man stared at him and yelled, “I AM 88 YEARS OLD! SITTING DOWN IS MY JOB SO FUCK YOU!”

I immediately thought two things.

1) I hate Kinko’s.
2) Being old seems kind of awesome. I can’t wait until sitting down is my job.

It’s incredibly difficult to feel positive about getting older, because we have a huge problem with the difference between BEING OLD and BEING NOT YOUNG.

In America, you’re only ever three ages: Not as old as you want to be, 25, or might as well be dead.

People hit 26, 30, 40 years old and they’re like, “WHY? WHY? WHAT HAPPENED? IT’S NOT FAIR! A MOVIE I ONCE SAW IS TEN YEARS OLD! WHAT’S THE POINT OF EVEN GOING ON???”

The point is YOU HAVE OVER HALF OF YOUR LIFE LEFT.

It’s like ordering a pizza. A delicious, wonderful pizza with ten slices.

You eat the first two pieces and they are AMAZING. Warm, delicious.

Then you take one bite of the third piece. It’s slightly cooler.

SO YOU RAGE FLIP THE TABLE AND SCREAM, “WHAT’S THE POINT? THIS PIZZA IS SLIGHTLY COOLER! IT’S TURNING INTO ASH IN MY MOUTH! REMEMBER THOSE FIRST TWO PIECES???”

And you bitterly chew your pizza, weeping, and reading BuzzFeed articles about how great the ’90s were.

Our lifespans are increasing all the time. Instead of living into my 80s, I’ll probably live into my 90s. Awesome! A whole extra decade to feel like shit because I’m not 25!

Bullshit! I don’t want to do that.

I have this crazy idea that it would be nice to enjoy my life instead of drowning in nostalgia.

I want to stay motivated and forward-moving.

I want to stay healthy and strong.

I might even EXERCISE.

Then, when I’m 88 years old and I want to scream my fucking lungs out at some punk at Satan’s Copy Shack, I can do it standing up.

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