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Aging is not for sissies

Last night I got off my sofa and walked two steps to Widdle on his sofa. (If you’re married you get it.) He pushed aside pillows, old mail and a few paper plates to make room. I snuggled up beside him to watch TV.

He put a tender arm around me—and then screamed, “WHHOOOOO-AHHHHH!” 

“Glad I still have that effect on you,” I smirked. He lunged forward and howled again. I began looking for a crucifix, because obviously the devil in him was trying to get out. Nope. The battery-powered “muscle shocker” on his back had delivered a larger-than-expected jolt. He gritted his teeth, reached around and peeled off the shocker.

“We’re getting old,” I sighed. “Soon we’ll be partying with Ben-Gay and suppositories.”

“Uunhhh,” he groaned.

“I’m sorry it hurt,” I said. Widdle has an extremely high tolerance for pain, so that shock probably would have sizzled my hair.

“It hurts good,” he gasped.

“Better than getting your back cracked every week?” I asked.

“Not quite,” he said, thoughtfully.

Then he limped — because he’s still recovering from a nasty broken leg in September — into the kitchen for a bowl of ice cream (actually non-dairy coconut milk fro-yo, but saying “ice cream” makes it taste better.)

I stayed behind and fretted. Chiropractors, gray hair — my silver strands stick straight up, resistant to brush and dye — wrinkles, back shockers, hormone therapy, aches and pains — how can we be getting old when we ARE NOT OLD?

I’m 60, he’s 65. We don’t sit around listening to Lawrence Welk and watching black and white movies. I keep my hair long, say “dude” too often, and don’t own a mu-mu. We’re tech savvy, we work out, we watch “Stranger Things” and “Modern Love.” We listen to Billie Eilish and Vampire Weekend. Heck, I liked Bow-Wow back when he was Li’l Bow-Wow.

We’re the cool grandparents. Our house doesn’t smell funky and we aren’t surrounded by Precious Moments figurines, plastic fruit, Thomas Kinkade prints or crocheted doilies.

DISCLAIMER: There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being surrounded by Precious Moments figurines, plastic fruit, Thomas Kinkade prints, and crocheted doilies. If that’s you, party on.

(Creepy confession: My grandma actually had on her kitchen wall — I am not making this up — an oil painting of an eviscerated Jesus holding up a dead rat by the tail. That painting terrified me and my siblings: A disemboweled, pea-green Jesus holding the rat that ate his innards. In that house, Thomas Kinkade would’ve been a blessing.)

Back to the hipness of Widdle and me: We eat local and low carb. (Mostly.) We think Pete Davidson and Trevor Noah are funny. We have a beach cruiser, yoga mats, a treadmill and an inversion table. (Full disclosure: We also have dozens of old magazines, neatly stacked, because Widdle can’t bear to toss them, even though he skims new ones for five minutes, then discards them without another glance.)

Still… no matter what we own or what we do, we’re getting older. We’re no longer middle-aged. This is the real deal.

Widdle calmly accepts aging, because he’s that kind of guy. I’m the vain one, terrified of looking matronly. I moisturize obsessively, pluck gray hairs, exercise daily and diet ferociously. I’ve helped make my dermatologist a wealthy man.

And for what?

None of that will stop time. It’s ludicrous, like a Band-Aid on a broken leg. But I keep trying, because the only other option — we Sags are extremists — is give up, live in a mu-mu and watch “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?” on a loop.

Not happening, dude.

Julie R. Smith, who still feels young and dumb, can be reached at