Wrinkled Wisdom – Huh??  Using That Emoji Means We’re Old??

We’re all cool. We use emojis. They can express emotion or liven up online conversations. They make us smile. Inserting an emoji is so much better than responding, “yeah,” “OK,”  “sure.” It is also an effective way to end an extended email or text “conversation.” Totally agree with your latest comment!…thumbs up emoji.  Love you!…red heart emoji.

Fun fact: emojis originated from Japan in the late 90s and early 2000s. The word “emoji” is a combination of the Japanese words for “picture” (e) and “character” (moji). Quiz the grandkids. You’ll look so with it.

They are much more effective than emoticons—a combination of punctuation marks, letters, and numbers. Remember the smiley face :-)??  They were a bit challenging because the design was sideways.

But, yikes, here we are in another “Okay Boomer” moment!  We’re being told by younger generations that, if we use certain emojis, we are officially old! Those emojis include the beloved thumbs up, the red heart, the clapping hands, and the check mark. Thumbs up is now old-fashioned and cringe worthy??  The check mark is uncool? Without it, how do we complete a to-do list? Give us a break! 

We aren’t really interested in the 31 new emojis introduced this year. Like the dotted line face?  It’s a muted neutral face that’s supposed to represent someone who is invisible or describe isolation or depression. Who cares? There’s already the neutral face, which “says” the same thing. And, we’re into the happy stuff anyway.

Okay, we might use the new “moose” emoji because it’s the nickname of a family member.  And, maybe we’ll play with the “pink heart,” but we doubt we’ll often click on the “goose,” “blackbird,” or “jellyfish,” if ever.

If you really want to get the full display of emojis, which you probably don’t, you can check out the Emojipedia for more information.  There are over 3,000 emojis listed.  We use about 10.

In addition to telling us we are showing our age, Gen Z is also changing the meaning of some of our favorite emojis. Crap. The thumbs-up emoji no longer has a positive meaning?  Now it’s passive-aggressive and confrontational. What? We ARE definitely old!

The ubiquitous happy face and red heart are no longer safe!! The happy face is now associated with indifference. And that heart could mean flirtatiousness. 

We might insert the whew emoji—that’s the happy face with a drop of sweat—to indicate we’re relieved about something.  Now it reportedly describes feeling stressed but dealing with it. Doing fine. Sounds like a mixed message to us. We’re confused.

We never used the googly eye emoji that we assumed meant “I am watching you.”  It seemed creepy. Now it means “I’m listening?” Really? Why not just use one of the emojis for ears? Is that too obvious and direct for young people?

And that double cherry emoji? We totally see it as part of a casino’s slot machine’s array when we are not winning the big one. It used to have a lot of innocuous meanings. Oops. Now it means boobs!  Luckily we have never used it. And, won’t be using it!

You might want to take the following trivia quiz to see how crazy the old and new meanings of emojis are now defined by the younger generation. Warning!  Expect a disastrous score.

So, our Wrinkled Wisdom for today? Choose emojis in a well-lighted room. They are small.  Don’t screw up. Get ready for Thanksgiving! There are emojis depicting a drooling face, folded hands for thanks, and turkeys. Don’t even try to figure out why the meanings of long-used emojis are changing. Yes, language evolves. And, as Bob Dylan said, “the times they are a changing.”  But, emojis? We don’t fear change. Remember the manual typewriter and phone booths? However, we don’t buy change for change’s sake. Stick with the emojis you enjoy. Screw these new meanings. We all know what you are “saying” and love it!

Wrinkled Wisdom – New “Words”?  The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Sure, English is a living language. So it makes sense for Merriam-Webster to continually update its dictionary with new words and phrases. It just added a whopping 370, as its editor notes, “to capture the language as it is used.” We love words.  But, some of these???  Let’s take a look at the good, the bad, and the ugly. Oh, BTW, we borrowed our title from a “spaghetti western,” a phrase that made it into Merriam-Webster decades ago but is now pejorative for low-budget Western films made overseas. Yikes!

Shrinkflation. Good one! It describes how companies are adding to their bottom line by reducing the size or quantity of a product while charging us the same price. Shrinkflation didn’t fool us for long. We noticed when our junk food ran out faster. 

“Side hustle” carries some lingering negative connotations for us. But, today, it describes work done in addition to a person’s primary job…a definite help during this inflationary period but not really of interest to we retired folks.

Covid sure was responsible for a bunch of the dictionary additions. Okay, we’ll go with “subvariant.”  But, we don’t think “booster dose,” “false negative,” and “false positive” are needed new phrases. They simply put together two common words to form a phrase we easily figured out! 

We missed “dumbphone.” But since we have smartphones, we got it. The “supply chain” phrase sure hits home when we can’t find some of our favorite stuff at the grocery. And every time we hear the word “metaverse,” we roll our eyes. We are not big Zuckerberg fans.

Apparently we are not on social media enough because we have never heard the word “adorkable,” which pretty much means awkward or quirky in an adorable way. Okay, cute. 

But, “yeet”? We’ll put that one in the bad category. It describes tossing an item violently. It can also be used as an interjection. Example: After finishing her soda, Harriet proceeded to “yeet” it into the trash while shouting “yeet.” We’ll take a pass.

“Cringe” has been hijacked and is now slang for embarrassing and awkward. Cringe to us means wincing in disgust. If we do cringe in disgust now, are we now cringy??? More bad.

We enjoyed MacGyver, who tackled high-risk missions around the world, and Will Forte’s MacGruber skits on Saturday Night Live. MacGruber bungled deactivating ticking bombs blowing everyone up. Now “MacGyver” is a VERB!?  It’s used to describe making or fixing something with whatever you have on hand. Clever or just huh???

Falling into the ugly category are some of the new “words” created through initialism—acronyms created from the first letters of the words. Okay, we bought into OMG, LOL, TMI, and BTW; and, TBH, this shorthand saves a bunch of typing. Catch that last one? Be honest!

ICYMI is another one of the additions, in case you missed it. Also, FTW…for the win.” It’s defined as an enthusiastic emphasis to the end of a comment and often meant sarcastically. No, not interested. 

OMG! ICYMI! Almost forgot the food world’s influence on the dictionary additions. “Pumpkin spice” finally made it as well as “oat milk” and “plant-based.”  Heh, Merriam-Webster, pretty slow on these additions. Though look for a change in the “oat milk” phrase if farmers get a new law passed that forbids non-dairy products from being labeled milk!

So, our Wrinkled Wisdom for today?  Enjoy the “dawn chorus”—the singing of the birds that precedes and follows sunrise. Sweet! Start memorizing these new acronyms, words, and phrases if you want to be able to do crossword puzzles in the future. Only getting acronyms like NASA won’t cut it. Knowing “terraform” will help if the clue is transforming a planet to support human life. Doubt that will happen, so every day enjoy the here and now!

P.S. Geez, Merriam-Webster, science fiction fans have known the term “terraform” forever! You were late on that one too

Wrinkled Wisdom – What? That Was An Old Wives’ Tale??

Eating bread crusts will make your hair curly. You could end up with a watermelon growing in your stomach if you eat the seeds. Most of us grew up hearing these old wives’ tales.

We want to be the generation that gives valuable guidance to the younger generation. So, we thought we would have some fun with old wives’ tales, myths, and outdated figments of someone’s imagination. How did we miss that? It’s not true? Who knew?

Cracking joints does not result in arthritis. We don’t care. Don’t do it. And, not because we suffer from misophonia—the hatred of sound.  It’s just irritating!! Get rid of those gas bubbles out of our earshot. 

Sad to say chocolate is not an aphrodisiac. Again, we don’t care. We will keep eating dark chocolate, justifying our intake on research linking it to cancer prevention and improved cognitive function. Just kidding. We crave it. Oh, and there could always be a placebo effect.

Feed a cold, starve a fever. Or was it, starve a cold and feed a fever? We never got this straight and eat when we feel like it, which is good. Because, whichever it is, it isn’t true.

Despite what our mothers said and despite what we told our children, you do not really lose heat through your head. This pearl of motherly wisdom is false. Wear a winter hat for style not health.

Yay! You can use expired medicines. In a study done for the Army, it was found most medicines last for at least five years and some can last as long as 15 years. Always good to have that leftover painkiller when you get a toothache over the weekend.

“An apple a day will keep the doctor away” cuts both ways. Eating lots of apples can lower the risk of some chronic diseases and cut down on the need for some prescription medicines. But, they aren’t a cure-all and can cause digestive issues. That seems to be a plus for the younger generation that apparently enjoys recording the sounds of expelling intestinal gas and posting it online. We’ll refrain from using the common term that rhymes with “darts.” 

You do not need to drink eight glasses of water a day. Whew! All that water equals lots of trips to the john. Doctors advise cutting back liquids two hours before going to sleep if you don’t want to stumble out of bed in the middle of the night. Alert!  Oldies sometimes don’t recognize thirst and we can get dehydrated more easily.

Okay, okay. Most of us wouldn’t sit on a public toilet without using a paper seat cover. Plop down on a public john crawling with who knows what without protection? Yuck! Whoops, wrong! Using a paper toilet seat cover doesn’t do much and we’re not likely to catch an infection from a toilet. For perspective, researchers say our cell phones carry 10 times more bacteria than most toilet seats. Studies also show there are lots of germs on our handbags. Two more things we need to disinfect. Ugh.

How many times did your mom tell you when you were a kid that you couldn’t swim after eating? If you are still willing to show up in public wearing a bathing suit, rest assured you can have your lunch and jump in the pool, lake, or ocean. Maybe skip the wine.

“Find a penny, pick it up. All day long, you’ll have good luck.”  Yes, we know it’s not true, but we still bend down and grab it. Habit! And, we’ve long heard that “terrible things come in threes” and know it’s a myth, but sometimes it sure feels true!

We think it’s time to retire the phrase old wives’ tales; it’s sexist. Maybe just refer to stuff as misconceptions. And, it’s ageist. If the younger generation paid more attention to what oldies really have to say today, their future would look brighter!

Our Wrinkled Wisdom for today?  Cover those public toilet seats if it makes you happy. Yes, still drink lots of water and eat lots of apples. Forget that hair of the dog morning cocktail; it will only delay that hangover. And, remember what your grandmom told you that is on target. Be smart. Be happy. Be kind. Shoulders back; chin up. And, remember, you won’t get anywhere without asking for it.

Wrinkled Wisdom: Coffins, Cremation, or Composting?

Okay, we’re all getting up there. Guess it’s a good time to give the kids copies of our wills and final directives, and get ready for some “interesting” conversations. One of those conversations will contain a threat. If you dare use any unflattering pictures of us, we will haunt you mercilessly from the grave! Hmmm…the grave? That brings us to the big question and to our title: coffin, cremation, or composting?

Being buried in a coffin was the way it was when we were growing up.  And, there was always a family plot to ensure family members shared burial spaces. Our great grandparents were laid out in coffins at home. The wake the night before the funeral included lots and lots of alcohol.  Those traditions morphed into a viewing at the funeral home the eve of a church funeral service. Then to the graveside ceremony, often limited to family only.  

And, let’s get the terminology correct. Coffins are tapered to conform to the shape of the human form. They have removable lids. Caskets have lids with hinges and have rails to make moving them easier. The average cost of a coffin is between $2,000 and $5,000. Some go for as much as $10,000!  Eco caskets are made of materials that quickly degrade once in the ground and cost less. Good reason to go green!

But, do we really want people to see our embalmed head with bad hair and a terrible make-up job lying in an open casket?

Thankfully, cremation has burned its way into popularity.  Oh, wait. The Romans practiced cremation centuries ago. But, they did things a little differently. At a cremation funeral, the heir lit a pyre with a torch, his face averted as the fire consumed the corpse. The Romans obviously loved drama.

Cemeteries are hurting for space and the family plot is chockful. Ashes in urns are space-effective and friends and relatives can still visit you, propped up on a loved-one’s shelf. If your kids are creative, they can have some of your ashes pressed into jewelry, glass art, and sun catchers, which they can give as gifts. Just an idea!

Ashes can also become part of an artificial reef, mixed with ink for a tattoo, sent into space, buried in a biodegradable urn, or turned into a vinyl record. Yes, a vinyl record! A guy from the UK started And Vinyly, thinking of it as sort of a joke.  He realized what he had created when people started using the records not only to preserve remains, but to include their loved ones stories and memories for posterity. Cool!

Cremation scenes stole the show in lots of movies we grew up with. Remember the Big Lebowski when John Goodman is tossing a friend’s ashes out of a Folgers Coffee can and the wind blows them all over Jeff Bridges? Bridges’ look is priceless and can still be found all over the internet.

The newest trend, especially appealing to the green–minded, is composting bodies. The body is placed into a stainless steel vessel with wood chips, alfalfa, and straw. Same concept as backyard composting of food scraps and yard waste. Well, sorta. It is, after all, a dead body so we don’t recommend this at home. Microbes that naturally occur on the plant material and on and in the body then power a transformation into soil. One advocate describes it as a way to create life from death. There’s a website, Green Burial Council, dedicated to helping you find a certified professional for this after-life option.

Just know these are not body farms, where scientists study the process of human decomposition using donated, nude, dead bodies. One of their main research aims is to make it easier for pathologists to determine a corpse’s time of death. Wow!  Our dead bodies can help solve murders???

Our Wrinkled Wisdom for today?  Rethink whether you want to end up in the ground, as part of the ground, or on a shelf. Make sure you have those flattering photos saved for the party and obit —which you should write!!!  We know the kids don’t want our stuff, but make a list of what you own that’s valuable. They don’t have a clue. And, make one of them swear on your grave that they will keep your parents’ first chair or other family heirlooms. They may not be worth much, but the stories that go along with them sure are.

P.S.  In one version of Samuel Morse’s telegraph code, LOL meant “loss of life.” Guess the old saying is true: “There is nothing permanent except change.” Laugh out loud.

Wrinkled Wisdom: It Ain’t Easy Going Green

A newspaper headline recently blared that it ain’t easy going green. No kidding! Recycling sure ain’t easy. Know you are not alone if you often find yourself scratching your head about what goes in your recycle bin. Three out of four of us are confused. 

Okay, let’s see if we can help. Paper is easy. Books, magazines, and newspapers are recyclable. Oops! Shredded paper may not be recyclable in your area. Each ton of recycled paper is turned into new products, saving 17 trees. Yes! Cardboard boxes are a go, too. But, toss those tissues, napkins, and paper towels in the trash if you don’t compost. Just learned that’s because they contain fibers too short to be made into new paper. Good trivia question!

The American Forest and Paper Association hit the media before the February Super Bowl, urging people to recycle pizza boxes. People watching the game at home ordered over 12.5 million pizzas. Yikes! That’s a lot of cardboard to be transformed into new products. Not to mention the calories! There has been mixed messaging on this because of the grease, but mills overwhelmingly say yes…yes we accept pizza boxes.

Okay, recycling aluminum and tin cans, plastic bottles, jars, and glass bottles is a gimme. But, we didn’t know that you shouldn’t smash your soda can or recyclable containers. The machines will get confused since they separate based on dimensions.

Yes, we all agree that the recycling process can be stinky, but we mean that figuratively, not literally! If your bin is stinky, you flunk recycling, literally. You’ve got to make sure containers are free of food. You’re supposed to rinse out that leftover soup and those brownie bits. So, here’s the dilemma. In Colorado, we are hurting for water. Guess you could start by licking up the residue. But, how about this?? Clean out the container with your dinner napkin. A two-fer!

Lids are really tricky. If your yogurt container has a foil top, toss the foil in the trash. If a container is plastic and the lid is as well, keep the lid attached. Think juice bottles and those ubiquitous prescription meds. Glass container and metal lid?  Remove the lid and put both in the recycle bin.

Wow, we’ve really been screwing up. We knew ice cream containers couldn’t be recycled, but didn’t know you can’t recycle frozen dinner boxes. Heck, frozen dinners have been our go-to during the pandemic as we tired of cooking and sought immediate gratification. Sorry!!!

Bad news for junk food lovers. Potato chip, Cheetos, popcorn, and other snack packaging are not recyclable. That bag is often made of aluminum or a special mixed plastic to keep the junk food fresh. This includes the wrappers inside cracker boxes. Hmmm…better munch on Cheez-Its or peanut butter Bits. Their recycle info is actually clearly printed and readable. Wow! Recycle the box and drop off the inside plastic bag at the grocery store. Helps minimize guilt for craving that yummy, fattening stuff.

Another eye-opener is what can be recycled at the grocery store. Thought it was only plastic grocery bags. No. It’s way more. Ziploc-type bag. Bread bags. Plastic liners from cereal boxes. Produce bags. Dry cleaning bags minus the stapled receipts. Newspaper delivery bags. Even bubble wrap if you are willing to pop all the bubbles. Maybe pop those bubbles with passion while watching the news about Ukraine rather than shouting obscenities at the TV. If you are gritting your teeth worried about whether to toss some plastic in with the stuff going to the grocery store, do the crinkle test. Crush the questionable wrap in your hand. If it bounces back into shape after you scrunch it or makes a crunchy sound, in the trash it goes. When in doubt, throw it out.

Check and see if your trash company’s website has a search section so you can type in a tricky item and get info on whether it’s recyclable. We all sure need the help.

So, our Wrinkled Wisdom for today? Shop products made from recycled plastic. There’s an amazing variety of stuff. Increasing demand will motivate companies to make more stuff out of our recycled junk. If you really want to freak out, google microplastics—the tiny particles formed by the breakdown of plastic products. We are breathing, drinking, and eating them. Even in beer! Hopefully, not scotch! If things don’t change, we could end up in a recycle bin. Pull out the old Tupperware; ditch the plastic wrap and aluminum foil. And put your glasses on when looking for that damn, tiny recycling symbol!  Oh, and our favorite, clever message is on Coke cans: Recycle me…see you again soon. 

Wrinkled Wisdom: Death and the Tone-Deaf

In the 1980 movie Fame, the theme song included the lyrics: “I’m gonna live forever.” The British rock band Queen took the opposite tact in their 1986 song “Who Wants to Live Forever?”

The book of Genesis claims that Noah lived to be 950 years old and that Adam lived to be 930.  At odds with those numbers, the bible quotes the Lord saying, “My Spirit will not contend with humans forever, for they are mortal; their days will be a hundred and twenty years.”

Who knew?  Right on!  Recent research indicates that the maximum life spans for humans are now projected to be between 120 and 150 years. OMG! That’s a lot of social security dollars and makes IRAs look pretty useless.

Living longer also means attending a lot more funerals. That made us think. Kudos to those who warn friends, who have recently lost a loved one, to prepare for the tone-deaf comments that unthinkingly tumble out of some peoples’ mouths. Maybe all of us could use some tips about what to say to the one fighting back tears. But, first, a sampling of the tone-deaf remarks made to grieving friends.

Are you going to get married again? Huh?? My husband has been dead for less than a week! No, I’m busy planning his graveside ceremony, dealing with paperwork, and trying to keep breathing. Why aren’t you having the memorial service at the club? He didn’t like the club. But, he won’t be there.  What?? You can’t fix stupid.

Gee, I know just how you feel. My dog just died. Okay, we all love our pets dearly. But, is that really an appropriate analogy?? To the widow of the man who died on the golf course:  At least he died doing something he loved. This is not a comfort or helpful in any way. He’s still dead!  Actually, when talking to the bereaved, avoid starting any sentence with “At least….” You are sure to be headed for trouble. Like…At least she’s in a better place. But, she’s not here!

Grief counselors have some suggestions to better handle expressing sympathy. For example, “all I can say is how sorry I am. They were a special person and will be sorely missed.” Or, “I know no words can ease your pain but please know I’m thinking of you.” Less is more to keep from stumbling into that dreaded tone-deaf category.

Since it is so tough to put yourself in another’s place and say the right thing, just admit that to the heartbroken. One of our favorites from the grief experts, which can also be written in a sympathy note or card, is: “I’m so sorry. I can’t imagine what you’re feeling right now and I honestly don’t have the words. But I care so much about you. I’m hurting with you. Love you.”

Friends who recently suffered a loss say they most cherished comments that mentioned activities done with the deceased. “Our golf games won’t be the same without his sense of humor.” “I’ll so miss our Wednesday lunches together.” If you want to keep it simple and heartfelt, you might say: “I just loved Bud. We all loved Bud.” (Bud was our dad’s nickname.)

Empathizing with words can be tough and even unhelpful. One grief expert points out that people experiencing loss are so grateful knowing that their friends and relatives care. Don’t underestimate the power of showing up and being present in that person’s life. Get them out of the house and surrounded by friends. If you don’t live close by, continue to call, text, and email.   

So, our Wrinkled Wisdom for today? There is no exact science to loss. Each individual grieves differently. Applaud the grief experts who are attempting to give us some guidance in expressing sympathy to those who have recently suffered a loss. Save this Wrinkled Wisdom with experts’ advice on some tried and tested things to say and do. Yes, create a new file and name it “don’t be tone-deaf.”  We all think we’re going to remember stuff, but haven’t we all experienced a bit of short-term memory loss?? Come on; admit it! And, do your newly-grieving friends a huge favor. Give them a heads up about the tone-deaf. Many people aren’t walking talking Hallmark cards. P.S.  We do not mean to insult anyone who is really tone-deaf by lumping them with people who make insensitive comments. The medical term for their condition, the cognitive inability to discriminate between pitches/musical notes, is called Amusia. Although it’s not very…well…amusing to sit next to them at a concert as they sing along off-key.

Wrinkled Wisdom: More About Words

Sticks and stones may break our bones, but words will never hurt us. So, the saying goes. No, some words and phrases just drive us crazy. You know what we mean. They push our buttons. They drive us to groan, cringe, or roll our eyes in frustration.

They come out of the mouths of pundits on television and are included in newspapers and books. They crop up in everyday conversations. To use Valley girl vernacular that overuses the word “like” to place emphasis on what is said, these words and phrases are…like…so annoying!

Every year, Michigan’s Lake Superior State University (LSSU) publishes a Banished Words List including 10 words based on submissions from people around the world. The goal is to “uphold, protect, and support excellence in language by avoidance of words and terms that are overworked, redundant, oxymoronic, clichéd, illogical, nonsensical, and otherwise ineffective, baffling, or irritating.”  Last year, the number one choice was Covid-19. Wishful thinking! 

Its 2022 winners include “new normal,” emphasizing that in the third year of the pandemic is any of this normalcy still considered new? “Wait, what?” topped the LSSU’s banishment list. The list includes ditching the phrase “no worries,” suggesting that people, instead, simply say “you’re welcome.” It also proposes banishing “asking for a friend,” noting that it’s just a ruse that isn’t fooling anyone.

So, we’re going to do our annual venting! We never again want to hear the word “irregardless.” It’s nonsensical. Spell Check doesn’t even recognize it! Use the appropriate word, “regardless.” The ir– prefix usually indicates negation. So you’re saying the opposite of what you mean? Merriam-Webster responds to criticism noting that it includes it in its dictionary because of its widespread use. Huh? Sort of like “ain’t.”

Then, there is the overuse of the word “literally.” Many people use the word “literally” like literally way too much. No, recipes don’t literally take no time at all, and those books didn’t literally fly off the shelves. 

And, how many times have you heard: “To make a long story short?” Just give us the short version! Then, there’s “the bottom line.” Just cut to the chase, please, unless you are discussing a profit and loss report. “At the end of the day?” Which day? “Nothingburger.” We thought that one was dropped years ago, but it has been reheated. “Period; end of the story.” Really??? That’s the best you can do for emphasis?

Remember all the exclamations that were common decades ago and have, thankfully, aged out? Heavens to Betsy! Gee whillikers! Hunky-dory! Holy Moley! Well, I’ll be a monkey’s uncle! What do they even mean? Or antiquated words that show our age like “beehives, dunce caps, dungarees, pageboys, pantyhose, pedal pushers, and saddle shoes.

Then there are the old terms and expressions that have become obsolete because of improved technology. Don’t touch that dial. Carbon copy. You sound like a broken record. Hung out to dry. Yup, who today would link them to rotary phones, manual typewriters, vinyl records, and clotheslines. Okay, vinyl records are coming back into fashion. Ditch that example.

One word we would love to see become obsolete is “pandemic.” Not surprised by Merriam-Webster’s 2021 Word of the Year…vaccine. It was selected based on lookup data and searches online. Makes sense.

Heavens to Murgatroyd! While we are groaning about words and phrases, let’s include all the new techie ones like Ethereum blockchain, bitcoin, dogecoin, cryptocurrency, NFTs, and more. We don’t even know what these words mean much less how to make payments using them. We need to create a Coinbase Exchange account? Heck, we still write checks. So, our wrinkled wisdom for today?  If you want to vent about words or phrases that annoy you, click on “comments” at the top of the page and share them for all to enjoy.  If you want to see them banished, nominate them on LSSU’s website: https://www.lssu.edu/traditions/banishedwords. No, don’t waste your time nominating words like blockchain. Face it. In this age of technology, maybe just try to get help and assistance understanding them from Siri?? Just kidding! See ya later, alligator!

Wrinkled Wisdom – Fashion: We’ve Forgotten How to Dress

As we’re feeling a bit more positive about Covid’s fading future and venturing out, there’s just one problem. We’ve forgotten how to dress. Sure, one leg at a time. But we’ve spent two years simply pulling on those sweatpants and leggings with elastic waists. Have those muscles needed to fasten buttons and zip zippers atrophied? Does it still fit? Is it still in style? We haven’t been challenged to dress for the occasion since there’s been no occasion.

We used to stick to the axiom that if you haven’t worn a piece of clothing for a year, it’s time to get rid of it, donate it, repurpose it, or downgrade it for wearing to clean, paint, do yard work, or sleep in. That’s a problem in light of the pandemic. It literally describes a huge chunk of what’s in our closet, plus most of our accessories and shoes!

Speaking of sleeping in it, fashionistas are freaked by people wearing pajamas in public during the pandemic although people have long been doing it. Years ago, Teen Vogue published an article titled “Stylish Ways to Wear Pajamas in Public.” Another old article opened, “If you’re a grown-up person who has not recently been diagnosed with a mental disorder and you’ve gone out in public in your pajamas, you need to know two things. First of all, you look like an idiot; and, secondly, stop doing this. Immediately.”

We all want to be fashionable or, as with some of our younger relatives, be deliberately unfashionable or retro or artsy or Goth or hipster, or rapper, or Lady Gaga or Pharrell, or imitative of other trends we “seasoned” citizens don’t always get.

And, think about it. Fashion is cyclical. It’s promoted in magazine ads, introduced on runways, and flaunted on TikTok. What have we missed during two years of lockup? Clothes are a form of self-expression. They make a statement. We are all guilty of making split-second judgments based others’ appearance.

Yves Saint Laurent once said, “Fashions fade, style is eternal.” We’re giggling. Yes, wide-legged slacks, tie dye stuff, bell-bottoms, maxi skirts, minis, and hot pants have faded from our closets. Remember Saturday night parties with black velvet hot pants, fishnet stockings, and heels? We do have clothes from the ‘80s we still wear, but did take the shoulder pads out of the jackets. Thankfully, jeans have survived since James Dean popularized them in the 1955 movie Rebel Without a Cause. Entertained by the articles saying we’re too old to wear the trendy ripped jeans? And, we’d want to????

That brings up the question many ask about dressing appropriately for our age. Stop worrying! Of course, there are limits. Don’t wear that dress Cher wore to the 1986 Oscars. Or look like someone who still has a landline, as the kids say. “Dress your age” is a line more appropriate to throw at that teenager who spends her time taking photos of herself in suggestive apparel and posting them on internet sites. Be a kid while you can.

Staying fashionable requires shopping. We like hands-on shopping. We like to feel the fabric.  We like to try it on. But we are finding, like many people, we don’t have our old shopping stamina. Shopping online surged during the pandemic. But, beware! Companies are cutting corners, using cheaper, synthetic materials for clothes that are poorly made.  Make sure you aren’t shy about returning!

We like timeless clothes. We like black. We like well-fitting jeans, though that may be an eternal quest. We like a flattering bathing suit, which is probably an oxymoron as we age. And, that’s if you’ve got the guts to wear one.

And, some fun news! “At Prada, It’s in With the Old” shouted a recent headline. Instead of waiting for us to check into an old folks’ home, Prada’s Milan show featured actors Kyle MacLachlan and Jeff Goldblum, both old enough to collect social security. The point, the article’s author underscored, is that Prada is recognizing that people are living longer and baby boomers outspend consumers from any other age cohort. Finally, a market-driven decision that recognizes “vintage humans.”

So, our Wrinkled Wisdom for today?  We’re not suggesting you buy Prada’s Re-Edition 1995 brushed-leather medium handbag for $3,050. Just smile smugly in appreciation of the fashion brand’s recognition of us in marketing. Never ever be a slave to a fashion trend that looks terrible on you. Clothes in your closet should be items that fit and that you look forward to wearing. Starting to again wear clothes that need dry-cleaning is a positive. Reintroduce yourself to your favorite dry cleaners and keep it in business. They’ve had a tough time surviving Covid since everything we’ve donned during the pandemic can be tossed in the washing machine.

Wrinkled Wisdom – The Advertising Industry Has a Problem

We hate ads. We’re not alone. People of all ages hate ads. Companies worldwide spend more than $300 billion annually on advertising that over 90 percent of us pretty much ignore! People also complain that ads today are more intrusive. No kidding. We’re bombarded on television, Facebook, YouTube, apps, games, and even old fashioned billboards.

We will admit to enjoying some humor in ads and those featuring “our” music. Loved learning that most ads for wristwatches have them set to 10:10. That way, the hands frame the brand name and create a smiley face.

And, yes, we do raise our heads and look at the TV when commercials feature classic rock. California Raisins once used Marvin Gaye’s I Heard It Through the Grapevine. Carnival Cruises once used Bobby Darin’s Beyond the Sea. But, Geico made a blooper using the Allman Brothers’ Midnight Rider to promote its motorcycle insurance. Duane Allman and the band’s bassist were both killed in motorcycle accidents. Oops!

We are especially ticked by the ageism that is alive and well in advertising. What’s the key to marketing to us?  Use some common sense. Don’t call us old in the ad. We also aren’t excited about being called seniors citizens, elders, or even boomers. Okay, got to admit those terms are better than the days when people our age were labeled geezers, codgers, duffers, and old farts.   

A recent focus group came up with calling us advisers, coaches, wise ones, masters, experienced, and seasoned citizens. Huh?? Seasoned? What are we, food?

The view of the human race would be distorted if it were based on primetime advertising alone. You barely see older people. Only about five percent of U.S. advertising focuses on people over 50. Fifty! Apparently, we don’t exist… except for Depend diapers and ads for drugs that reportedly improve memory.

Yet, in a study polling people of all ages asking when you’re too old to do things like go back to school, start your own business, or date romantically, an overwhelming majority answered that you’re never too old. So there. Quit focusing on age as an indicator of consumer habits.

America does have an obsession with youth so most marketers focus on millennials and Gen Zers. Not smart! Not only do they not have the big bucks; apparently, they are not very loyal to products and services. Ageism in ads could be the consequence of the average age of employees in the advertising industry…34.  Hey, run some of your ideas past mom and dad!

Ignore us at your own peril! There are lots of us and we’ve got money! Respect “seasoned” citizens!

Eureka!  How about ads that focus on our actual needs and lifestyles instead of our age? This would increase the ad’s appeal to all potential buyers. Heck, we eat in and dine out. We drink alcohol. We wear clothes and wash them. We take care of our lawns. We update our homes. We use hair products and lotions. We exercise. We own computers and cell phones. How else would we communicate with the younger relatives? And, we buy lots of stuff at the pharmacy like everyone else for the sniffles and headaches, in addition to the Rogaine for our thinning hair.

Laughing over a number of news articles recently talking about Facebook and Google banning ads for sexual wellness products aimed at people over 50. Are their employees aghast that “seasoned” citizens are having sex?? Read the stats, millennials. ED can hit at any age!

So, our Wrinkled Wisdom for today?  Social media gives us a voice to criticize condescending and stereotypical ads. Let ‘em have it on Facebook. Boycott brands whose ads tick you off. Don’t underestimate our clout! Yelling obscenities at the TV doesn’t do a thing, but sure makes us feel better. Smile when you see age-appropriate actors pushing products. Otherwise, hit the mute button and tackle a crossword puzzle till the show comes back on. Oh, and, could we dump the “I’ve fallen and can’t get up” ad? It’s been on and off TV for 33 years. How about, um, I ate too many edibles and can’t get off the couch!

Wrinkled Wisdom – Post Holiday Ruminations

Hanukkah…Winter Solstice…Christmas…Kwanzaa…New Year’s. Well, we’ve just lived through another holiday season as the Omicron variant surges throughout the world. This year, thankfully, even the grandkids were vaxxed and home tests were available to confirm that no one had to stay in lockup while we partied. We hugged! We stashed the masks!

Wow…some of our friends, who haven’t seen relatives or pals for two years, actually celebrated together. That is, if their flights weren’t canceled because Omicron is hitting airline employees hard. Yes. Omicron! For inquiring minds, the World Health Organization skipped over the Greek alphabet letter Nu because it sounds like “new.” That would be redundant. They skipped over Xi because China’s president is Xi Jinping. That wouldn’t be politically correct. If these variants keep popping up, we’ll need to find a different alphabet!

We all might consider avoiding trips to the mall for a bit since experts predict that about two out of three of us will return at least one gift after the holidays. An alternative? Regifting! Reportedly, the most commonly regifted items are socks, alcohol, and scented candles. Huh? Socks?  We’re not regifting that scotch, for sure. Candles? Maybe. We regift sugar things. The mailman loves candy, and we sure don’t need more calories.

Food, which translates into calories that translate into fat, is a huge part of the holiday season. Some of us look forward to holiday celebrations just because of the specialty foods that will be welcomed on our plates. Some may not be seen or eaten for another year! Home-grown turkey.  Noodle kugel (not kegel).  Yummy mashed potatoes, stuffing, and orange gravy.  Coconut cheesecake.  Carrot cake.  Forget the fruitcake. 

The food is, of course, complemented by multiple wines and our favorite mixed drinks. Yup. More calories. We used to be able to handle three drinks. Now it’s two since hangovers aren’t fun. That’s one of the perks of hosting the party. Yes, you have to cook, prep, and clean up, but you don’t have to worry about driving home.

Then there is the holiday Annual Sugar Exchange. That’s what we call it when the neighbors think it’s neighborly to gift us with their favorite homemade cookies, cakes, or candies, much of which ends up in the compost or trash bin. Of course, that means it’s incumbent upon the receiver to reciprocate with a sugar gift. Oops, be careful about regifting food. One of us once did; then was asked for the recipe. Ouch.

After decades, gifting, in general, has become a challenge.  No one in the family really needs anything, except the grandkids who, of course, want things. So, we’ve established some traditions in giving. It works! We don’t buy that imported canned tuna fish we love because we know we’ll get a bunch for Christmas. We look forward to receiving an expensive scotch we wouldn’t buy but just love. Donations to favorite charities in our name.  Gift cards.  Lottery tickets. 

We had no problem with the answer to a crossword clue recently that read:  Thanks, it’s just what I’ve always wanted. It’s a lie! Well, fib would have fit too. Three in five of us have lied about liking a gift we just opened, according to a recent poll. Guess the others just say thanks and give it away.

One of the positive things about the holidays is that spam calls usually drop. What a relief! But, spam emails increase like crazy. Why? They are trying to dupe us with fake shipping notifications for holiday gifts. With age comes wisdom. If it lands in our junk mail, screw it.

So, our wrinkled wisdom for today? The simplest way to make a person happy with a gift? Ask them what they want. Gifts don’t always have to be a surprise. A wanted gift makes people smile. Hope you got a cute baseball cap this holiday. According to our hairdressers, the pandemic has apparently caused lots of hair loss. Thought that was aging. And, don’t instigate a holiday Sugar Exchange with neighbors. Trust us on this.