And so are you. So let's start something.
Yesterday, as I always do when my husband goes out for a couple of hours in the afternoon, I poured a glass of wine and put Alexa to work playing some of my favorite tunes. Among them: “Human Touch” by Bruce Springsteen. “Uh Huh” by Jade Byrd. “Desire” by U2. “Liar, Liar” by The Castaways. “Pineapple Skies” by Miguel. “Child With the Blues” by Erika Badu. “Even Now” by Walter ‘Wolfman’ Washington and Irma Thomas. “Who’s Livin’ You” by The Miracles. And that’s just a sampling.
An eclectic mix to be sure, and ideal for dancing like no one is watching. And I do, pelvis thrusting, hips gyrating, eyes closed, my hair coming loose from its clip and my whole body responding to every beat, with abandon.
After hours spent squinting at a computer monitor, it’s so freeing to let your body cut loose like that and not for the first time, the thought occurred to me that, “Hey, I still got some moves.”
I also thought about what others would think, seeing me dance as if I was twenty-five and the hottest girl in the hottest club in town.
Would I care? After all, who expects a woman in her 60s to be getting down like that? Then it hit me: As much as I disavow age discrimination, I am often guilty of that archaic mindset myself. And I’ll tell you how.
Sometimes when I’m watching TV, a commercial will air featuring people around my age, and to me, they always look so freakin’ old. And it’s hard for me to identify with them. I’ve even voiced this to my husband, saying, “These people look so much older than we do!”
But that’s stinkin’ thinkin’ right there and I don’t want to have false perceptions about another person merely because they wear their hair a certain way or dress more conservatively than I do. Maybe they dance around their kitchen like banshees, too! Who am I to say otherwise?
Speaking of hair, I believe that’s why I haven’t had mine cut in over a year. Because women my age are expected to look and dress a certain age and I keep my hair long as a sort of FU to anyone who adheres to the “Over 50? Cut that shit off,” way of thinking.
One area where I have thrown in the towel is searching for gainful employment. Last week I received an email from a recruiter to the effect that, “After reviewing your resume, we’ve decided not to move forward.”
Bullshit. This was a content creator position that I’m fairly certain I could slay with my eyes closed. This is what the recruiter really meant: “After figuring out how old you are, we’ve decided not to move forward.”
Over the past two years, since I lost my job, this has happened to me more times than I can count. I’m not a quitter and never have been but there comes a point when you get tired of beating your head against a wall. Hence the fact that I rarely respond to employment “opportunities.”
For anyone whose been in this position, don’t you wish recruiters or hiring managers could tell the truth, just once? Just once…so we could rip them a new one? I know I do. In fact, I have. For this latest kick in the teeth, I told the recruiter exactly what I thought. Could I have kept quiet? Certainly, but what’s the point of that? These idiots need to learn that “older’ doesn’t mean “inept,” or worse, “doddering.”
Screw that noise! In fact, I’ve tried to initiate conversations on LinkedIn about this but, true to form, people are afraid to speak up. What a shame. “Silence” will never be a catalyst for change.
Perhaps I’ve offended people with my candor. Do I care? No. If you’re going to dish out the crap, be prepared to get a load right back.
So, given all that, this is what I propose: Let’s start something. Like a movement, if you will. Let’s just forget about the number on our birth certificates. The only thing those digits do is create assumptions. Now, I’m not going to deny that when we interact with people within our age group, we have the advantage of common ground. Similar experiences, vantage points, and the like. But, what’s the harm in mixing things up? What’s the harm in shattering myths? Connecting with someone who, on the onset appears to have nothing in common with you could result in an experience richer than you ever imagined.
Hey, if a woman in her 70s wants purple hair down to her ass, then she should rock it! If a 15-year-old kid is into vinyl and film noir, hell to the yeah! If a 45-year-old guy reads nothing but Marvel Comics, not my jam, but who cares? Maybe I’d learn something.
The point is, let’s loosen up where the concept of age is concerned. Let’s think of ourselves as “ageless.” Eternally growing and embracing new experiences. That’s so sexy, is it not? Many writer friends embody this quality for me and I love them for it.
Finally, maybe I’ll cut my hair, maybe I won’t. But whatever I do, it won’t be because someone expects it of me. That’s so “yesterday.” And, I’ll keep on dancing.
Care to join me?
© Sherry McGuinn, 2020. All Rights Reserved.
Sherry McGuinn is a slightly-twisted, longtime Chicago-area writer and award-winning screenwriter. Her work has appeared in The Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, and numerous other publications. Sherry’s manager is currently pitching her newest screenplay, a drama with dark, comedic overtones and inspired by a true story.