Why isn’t there a book on middle aging? There is a book to explain to us where we come from, what happens during puberty, all sorts of books on when we start having sex, books about what to expect when we are expecting and books about what to expect before we die. Nothing in the middle. There is about 30 to 50 years of uncovered territory there. And I need to know now because most of this is a mystery to me.
Sure they tell us about short arm disease and there are books and magazines devoted to telling us what to do while we are middle aged, like buying that red convertible or having an affair, but where are the books that explain the other things?
I understand why we don’t tell potential parents about parenthood. I understand that if we told potential parents that they wouldn’t get eight hours of sleep, in one night, again for the next 18 years they wouldn’t bother having kids. I understand that if we explained to them the worry that fills our brains ever day about our children they wouldn’t believe us. I understand that if we told them their house and their belongings would never be as they liked them again and that they would never have any money no matter how many hours they slaved they wouldn’t want to bring the next generation to life. I understand that if we were to tell them that they would lose all intelligent thought for the next two decades they would laugh at us and say we were crazy. I get that. It’s important to keep that information from the under 20 crowd.
What I don’t understand is why keep the facts of aging from the aging? It isn’t as if we can avoid the process. Why didn’t anyone tell me that my joints would start to ache before it rains and that when I kneel down to help my child tie her shoe she has to help me get back up? Why didn’t anyone tell me that my hearing would stop being selective after a while and I would have to constantly say “what?” when the person talking to me is five feet away? I’d like to know where all the veins came from on my hands? They were never there before. Where did the fat on my legs go? They used to be sort of shapely and now they are just skinny and undefined. I know where the fat went, it’s on my ass and around my middle but why did it decide to go north when everything else has gone south?
I expect a few gray hairs, I have been plucking them out from my head for years. One here and one there. The other morning I looked in the mirror and saw what I thought was a grey hair on my temple. I plucked it out only to find that there was another one. And another one. I plucked out ten grey hairs that were not there the night before. How does this happen? And no one, no one, ever mentioned anything about grey pubes.