Motherhood, insanity and everyday life.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

The Short List Just Got Shorter

The list is growing shorter. In fact, if I were honest, I probably don't want to count how many names are on it. It's not even a real list. It's more or less in my mind, there to reassure me that I have nothing to worry about. What is this list, you ask? Why, it's the list of people in prominent positions that are older than me...of course. Allow me to explain.

Since I was young, I've kept a mental list of everyone important that was older than me. This list gave me hope and challenges and goals. Most of all, it gave me time. When I was a child, the list consisted of...well, everyone. My teachers, the principal, the mayor, the president, most movie stars, astronauts...and on and on. As I grew, it was fun to find out about the random child actor or prodigy that had done something noteworthy but it was better to know that most people with responsibility were older.

In high school, the list became a bit of self-imposed peer pressure. There were suddenly a few people no longer on the list that had already done something. After college, the list gave me a false sense of security. As long as most of the significant people were older than me, I still had time to accomplish something...anything.

Today, the list just got shorter. Actually, it shortens every day, but I just choose to ignore it. Today,the Green Bay Packers chose a new coach and he is younger than me. For so many years, virtually every coach in the NFL was older than me. It made me feel comforted to know that these father figures were leading our athletes. I've never had a desire to be an NFL coach, but in some bizarre way, I liked knowing that the coach of my favorite team had at least a little more life experience than me. Today, I found out that the new Packers' head coach is three years younger than me. For some reason, this is messing with my mind.

You see, I like to know that people in positions of leadership and notoriety are older than me. I'm not sure if it's because I can't imagine doing what they do or if it's because it brings them down to earth...I guess it just makes them fallible. For instance it helps me enormously to know that the leader of the free world is almost 60 years old...and I'm not. Even if I disagree with whoever is holding an office, I want to know that they have a little more wear and tear on their tires than I do.

What it comes down to, for me, is that I believe with age comes wisdom. A couple of months ago, I hit 45, which, on the wisdom scale is getting there. I'm not sure I feel as wise as I should which is where the list comes into play. As long as there is a list, everything will be OK. The important question is, do the people who aren't on the list know what the hell they're doing?

Today isn't really the first time this has all occurred to me. For the past several years, my kids' teachers are all starting to be younger than me. Most of the hot Hollywood actors are younger than me and those that are playing older roles are, gasp, my age. The guy that teaches me tennis is a lot younger than me and he was probably in diapers when Chrissy Evert hit her stride.

Here's an abbreviated version of the list: George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Barbara Walters, Bill Gates, Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep, Joe Montana, Pope Benedict XVI, Nelson Mandela, Oprah Winfrey, Neil Armstrong, Caroline Kennedy....well, you get the idea.

The list has variations. For instance, it used to be selfishly reassuring to know that it was always people older than me having various age-related ailments. Just this week I found out that a female high school classmate died of a heart attack. It doesn't hit much closer to home than that. Apparently, we're all mere mortals, despite what we've hoped all along. Obviously age isn't a sign of intelligence or good health. There are exceptions to this all around me, if I simply pay attention.

In any case, I choose to be blissfully ignorant of all of these facts and I'm about ready to exercise my right to "reverse agism." I believe that my being older than these "list dropouts" gives me the privilege of criticizing their every move...if only because they're younger than me. Darn whippersnappers!


At 5:12 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

What a fascinating concept! I think on some level I've always done the same sort of thing albeit a little more subconsciously.

Michele sent me!

At 6:27 PM , Anonymous Crys said...

Michele sent me, hello!

At 6:36 PM , Blogger Ali said...

he....thanks for posting :)

i wanted to tell you that i grew up in milwaukee! and my mom actually still lives there....small world...:)

At 10:15 PM , Blogger kenju said...


At 10:42 PM , Blogger Crazy MomCat said...

That coach belongs in DIAPERS, not on a football field! He'll never last!

Love the list concept. HA!

Michele sent me tonight.

At 5:59 AM , Blogger Tara said...

OMG, I do that too! The worst is when politicians are younger than me. Aren't they all supposed to be crusty old men or tough older women?

At 6:00 AM , Blogger Tara said...

Oops, and michele sent me!

At 7:36 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel the same way.
When I see an obituary of someone in their 20's or 30's it freaks me out bigtime!

At 8:01 AM , Blogger Lazy Daisy said...

What a delightful, insightful post. You made my day. There is still time to make your mark....Colonel Sanders didn't start his franchise of KFC till his late 60's.

Michelle sent me but I'll be back

At 8:56 AM , Blogger ribbiticus said...

haha! good one! i am grually feeling the same more and more each day.:)

here via michele.

At 9:36 AM , Blogger Finn said...

Funny how we're always measuring ourselves against others. I'm bit behind you, but I see myself being where you are. When I go to conferences at my son's school, the teachers, etc. are around my age, which always makes me wonder where the adults are. Of course then I realize that I AM an adult, which is startling.

Hi - Michele sent me! Have a wonderful weekend.

At 9:39 AM , Blogger Kross-Eyed Kitty said...

What a great, thought-provoking blog!
I turned 40 last birthday, and am a nurse at a busy teaching hospital. When the new residents start their rotations, they all look like Dougie Houser to me, and I'm appalled!
Here via Michele's!

At 9:58 AM , Blogger craziequeen said...

I began to despair when police officers started looking about 20yrs younger than me :-S

Hi Karen, MSM


At 3:51 PM , Blogger sage said...

I owed you a visit from Michele's earlier today and got called away...

My moment of truth was nearly 20 years ago--I'd moved to Pittsburgh for grad school and found out that there was only 1 player on the Pirates older than me.

I've got you by 3 years!

At 4:22 PM , Blogger Jennifer said...

I don't have a list like that, but I have been to doctors older than me, and had the checkoutboys at the grocery store call me ma'am. I'm only 34, and I don't like it a bit!

At 5:21 PM , Blogger panthergirl said...

That is so funny... I do the same thing! This year, when I turned 50, I started getting mailings for the AARP!! While I know that Mick Jagger and a bunch of other people are old enough for AARP memberships, I'll be damned if I sign up for one.

Uh uh. Not me.

(Oh, and add me to your short list.)

Michele sent me!

At 5:46 PM , Blogger Erin said...

I do the same thing!

(I thought I had posted a comment on this earlier, but I must be delusional. Just know I was here once and now I am back!)

Hello from Michele's!! Have a great weekend!

At 6:21 PM , Blogger R. Edmondson said...

Hello sent here by Michelle. I will be nosing around. Hope you don't mind :)

At 7:31 PM , Anonymous chele in [dot] LA said...

Oh wow.........
thanks for stopping by anyways..
all you have to do is hit the comments and when you do that there are two tabs.. one is read and one is write..
hit the write on and you are there to make a comment..
Now just so you know .. No one has claimed the free shirt.

At 8:20 PM , Blogger amanda said...

Michele sent me...have a great day!

At 10:15 PM , Blogger Carmi said...

I experience something similar as I watch coverage of the Olympics. When I was a kid, the athletes were all giants. Today, they're kids.

You've provoked thought once again. I think there may be a column in that.

At 10:16 PM , Blogger margalit said...

I'm way older than you are!

Michele sent me.

At 7:29 AM , Blogger sage said...

A comment earlier noted it was nice having a doc older than them, but as I'm in the waning years of my 40s, I like having a younger doctor--the old guys were in school so long ago! 'morning from Micheles (I stopped by yesterday too)

At 8:02 AM , Blogger Uisce said...

Very interesting! I was thinking of something similar the other day. I find that I'm older than more people than I used to be... teachers, plumbers, store clerks... just people you run into throughout the day. Very interesting, indeed!

At 8:22 AM , Blogger craziequeen said...

'I believe that my being older than these "list dropouts" gives me the privilege of criticizing their every move...if only because they're younger than me.'


I like that, Karen

Michele sent me

At 9:00 AM , Blogger Lazy Daisy said...

Michele sent me again...this time I read about your being sick and your family still survived. You've been doing your job all along and know you see that it is taking. Great Job Mom!

At 9:29 AM , Blogger Chrixean said...

I only feel this way when I come across clients who have these top positions in big companies I service, who act like they know it all, who talk to you like you are inferior to them just because you are a "supplier" of a service, and worst of all, who are much younger than you are! But then the wisdom of experience comes in, and once again, your being older becomes their disadvantage :-)

At 10:20 AM , Blogger Laura GF said...

Hello, Michele sent me. I like this idea a lot. I'm 30 and it's shocking to me to hear about people younger than me dying. I think this is how people wind up browsing the obituaries looking for people they know :)

At 2:59 PM , Blogger mar said...

I thought of this when Germany elected a woman chancellor and she is as old as a couple of my dear close friends... still older than me, but not that much older. Oh, dear. Here via Michele's

At 3:56 PM , Blogger Barbara said...

Karen - I don't keep a list, but I have experienced those same feelings. Michele sent me!

At 6:00 PM , Blogger margalit said...

You know what the worst is? When you go to the ER with some vital complaint and the doctors are younger than your kids. That's scary.

Michele sent me


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