Let’s Talk about Toys

The holidays are now behind us and we find ourselves totally engrossed by the topic of toys.  Yes, toys—objects children, the grandkids for example, play with after Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa.   

One annoying object (noun) to which we object (verb)?  Screens.  We are amazed at the time kids spend playing games on computers or portable gaming monitors.  Not to mention the cost! Do kids read books anymore??  Do they even know they can read a book on a screen? 

Screens don’t require or encourage kids to move around or personally interact with anyone.  We won’t even get into the research indicating links to obesity, depression, and a poorer quality of life.  Nah.   

Yes, kids can play on a screen outside.  But that defeats the purpose of being outside…actually playing.  We think of playing as an activity that includes movement, creativity, and, hopefully, opportunities with peers to learn about collaboration and leadership.  We applaud bike riders, skateboarders, and roller skaters, as long as they wear helmets and refrain from texting.  

To be fair, screens aren’t limited to kids.  All of us have been in a restaurant and rolled our eyes at a family or group of friends looking at their phones…constantly.  You’re eating out.  It’s special.  Have a conversation even if it’s about the latest apps and available upgrades!

We oldies spent a lot of time inventing activities indoors and out when we were kids.  It was amazing what fun could be had with a sheet, clothespins, and a clothesline. Yes, a clothesline.  Showing our age!  Our old baby carriage became a stagecoach.  Hairy poison oak leaves became a bed in our imaginary camp.  Well, that wasn’t such a good idea.  We learned the hard way: “leaves of three, let them be.”

As girls, we played with a lot of dolls.  We loved the diversity…big, small, soft, hard, walking, talking.   Today, numerous dolls objectify women, are too sexy, send the wrong body images, or promote certain tasks and jobs inappropriately linked to gender.  What are these toys teaching our little girls???  Hmmm….not good!

Toys directed to boys seem generally the same—guns, good guys and bad guys, trucks, tanks, superheroes. Although, today, many of these characters have moved to outer space.  

A number of board and card games we played are still around.  But, the complexity of some new games boggles our minds.  Here’s our rule.  If the game’s instructions are more than two pages, we are not playing.

And while we applaud the educational value of various toys, we have observed many sitting on the shelf in favor of Minecraft, which, yes, we know, can have educational value.  We also know there are gamer tournaments and scholarships. But, like readying your kid to play professional sports, have a Plan B. 

We can’t discuss toys without remembering the tee shirt many guys used to wear: He who dies with the most toys wins.  Note the shirt says “he.”  Toys in this context, we surmise, are expensive cars, motorcycles, boats, etc.  It should have read: Toys=$, I win.  Personally, we always thought it was a foolish statement.  If you are dead, someone else simply inherits your estate and enjoys your toys.  They win.

Recent holiday shopping reminded us how choices available at the toy stores have really proliferated.  We were overwhelmed and had difficulty selecting what to buy.  When we were kids, we could count on both hands the number of toys we had.  Not today.  Kids’ rooms are jam-packed with toys.  Is that good news, we asked ourselves?  So, we Googled.  Nope, research indicates that children who have too many toys are more easily distracted and don’t enjoy quality playtime.  Fewer toys mean more creativity.

Our wrinkled wisdom for today:  We know grandparents, aunts, and uncles spoil children with lots of toys.  We suggest keeping some at your houses for the kids’ visits.  Donate toys to philanthropic organizations after the kids outgrow them.  Please don’t buy huge teddy bears; they are impossible to clean!  And, whatever you do, don’t buy toys that make noise, including musical instruments. (That flexible keyboard did not go over well with the kid’s parents.)  And, keep toys’ receipts.  You never know.  For their sanity, parents may want to return it.

OK, Boomer

Ok, boomer.

“OK, boomer” may sound to oldies like many innocuous responses from young people.  Maybe you’ve seen a young person wearing a T-shirt that says “OK, boomer” and thought “how sweet.  They’re honoring their elders!”

Nope.  Don’t be naïve.  They are giving us a verbal middle finger.  Millennials and Gen Z are at war with us over climate change, financial inequality, student loan debt, and anything we say they consider stupid or condescending.

The provocation for this generational war appears to have been a video of a white-haired man in a baseball cap and polo shirt declaring that “the millennials and Generation Z have the Peter Pan syndrome; they don’t ever want to grow up.” It went viral on TikTok, whatever that is.  Oh, yeah, yet another social media platform.

Then, a 25-year-old member of the New Zealand Parliament was heckled by an older colleague during her speech about the need for stricter climate change policy.  Without missing a beat, she replied “OK, boomer” before continuing her remarks. The news media blew up. 

The reaction?   Hundreds of products are now for sale, some with the tagline “OK, boomer, have a terrible day.”  The sales success of these products indicates that the sentiment resonates with young people, who will be the first to have a lower quality of life than the generation before them.

Generational warfare is nothing new.  Heck, remember when we were warned not to trust anyone over 30??  And, remember that in our youth, we fought against the establishment and the Vietnam War.  We were in the streets fighting for civil rights and equal rights for women.  Oh, and, of course, there was the sexual revolution.  We fought for contraception and Roe vs. Wade.  We rocked to Elvis and the Beatles, who have influenced generations of musicians.  We smoked dope and are delighted marijuana is finally legal in many states.  CBD oil is a must for oldies.

Instead of declaring war, kids, how about some civil discourse?  If you want to make a difference, we suggest you improve your communication skills.  You reportedly struggle with face to face communication and are the loneliest generation.  You lack important socialization skills.  You spend a lot of time gaming, alone.  (Playing with avatars doesn’t count as real interaction.)  Awkward!  

You reportedly have difficulty listening, know more about Minecraft and Marvel than your jobs and friends, and have little knowledge of geography (where is Suriname?), world history (what was the Cuban Missile Crisis?), and current affairs (who are the Kurds?)

And, generally, you don’t vote.  Millennials continue to have the lowest voter turnout of any age group.  Surveys do show an uptick in young people casting ballots; keep it up if you want to make a difference.  

We need to stop talking past each other and work together to address the environment and income inequality, and promote a more hopeful future for young people.  We’re not all out-of-touch, unhip people who still think it should be 1979 and anything called a “phone” should be bolted to a wall.  We recognize that student loan debt alone is prohibiting young people from getting married, having kids, and buying a house.  

However, if you get smacked with an “OK, boomer” response and have had enough, don’t repeat an AARP executive’s admonition:  “OK, millennials.  But we’re the people that actually have the money.” AARP apologized for that snarky response.  Maybe respond with the famous line from the movie Taxi Driver:  “You talkin’ to me?”  Robert DeNiro says it while looking at himself in the mirror, imagining what he would do if he were confronted by a bad guy.

So, our Wrinkled Wisdom for today?  Don’t take the “OK, boomer” attack personally.   Generational warfare is the norm.  We made a difference in our youth.  Maybe it’s time to come out of retirement and become activists again.  We need to think about our kids and grandkids.  We need to take millennial and Gen Z concerns seriously.  And, face it, we need them—to help us adapt to constantly changing technology and to fix our phones.  

Wrinkled Wisdom: I’m Too Old for This (Bleep)

How many times have you heard yourself or someone else mutter: I’m too old for this!!  

It’s stuff that is frustrating, irritating, or repetitive, and stuff we’ve been doing for years that we just don’t feel like dealing with anymore.  It’s a flexible phrase that is so often very appropriate. 

It was popularized by Danny Glover’s character in the late 1980s Lethal Weapon movie series.  Danny blurted it out when the cop he played faced dangerous or frustrating situations.  He actually uttered: I’m too old for this…hmmm…crap. We’ll keep it clean.  

We’ll be PC.  Wait.  That’s one of our frustrations!  Political correctness.  Did you know we should drop phrases like “basket case” and “long time no see”?  One is disrespectful to veterans and the other derogatory toward Asians and racist.  And, we never again can use the word “hysterical.”  It’s derived from the Greek word for uterus.  All these years, we’ve naively used it to describe something very funny!  Nope, it’s now considered sexist.  Ah, we ARE too old for this…(bleep).

The catchphrase can apply to all ages.  Millennials consider themselves too old for online dating, are dumping Facebook, and drinking less beer.  Not surprisingly, we oldies have a different list.   

Some things go without saying.  No more bikinis and speedos.  No-brainers.

Forget outdoor work like snow shoveling or even snow blowing.  That machine weighs a ton!  Lawn mowing?  No.  Even a sit-down mower doesn’t cut it.  (Like that wordplay?)  Then, there is the bush and tree trimming and weeding and raking; and, well, pretty much anything outdoors other than tending our jardinières.  

An adult community with no maintenance seems appealing, but that would mean moving—shuffling around heavy packing boxes and getting rid of a bunch of things.  And, we all know the kids don’t want our…aah…stuff.

Forget cross-country driving.  It’s a challenge.  Well, just driving is a challenge.  Traffic is crazy.  Drivers are crazy.  Oldies are less flexible, so it’s harder to look over our shoulders.  And, the glare of headlights at night can be really annoying.  We wonder if Bruce Springsteen, turning 70 this month, might be considering rewriting the lyrics to his 1973 hit, Blinded by the Light.

Forget standing in lines.  That includes ski areas (think lift, not Lyft with a “y”), hot new restaurants, rock concerts, or pretty much anything related to tickets and popular venues.  (An aside: let’s be honest about how beloved friends and relatives with handicap placards have become!)

And, forget theme park rides.  No roller coasters anymore.  In fact, limit visits to theme parks, children’s museums, playgrounds, and other venues with the grandkids.  Because, they are chockful of, well, kids…kids we are dying to discipline but that is rarely well received. 

We’re also too old for social media nonsense or wearing four-inch heels or tattooing an inner ear…the latest, hottest location for a tattoo, reportedly.  But, we’ll never be too old for guilty pleasures—eating chocolate, sleeping in, spending money on our bucket list, and knocking down our favorite vodka tonic or Manhattan.

So our wrinkled wisdom for today:  Revel in watching others do your home maintenance.  A handyman is a top priority!  Hire a lawn service.  Find a neighbors’ kid to shovel snow.  And remember that this catchphrase can be used strategically and in fun—like when the grandkids pelt you with snowballs.  Other stuff we’re too old for?  Note your observations in the comment section so we can all giggle.  We promise no one will troll you!

Wrinkled Wisdom: It’s Getting Buggy Out There

Let them eat…bugs.  What?  Marie Antoinette insensitively said, “Let them eat cake,” when told that France’s “peasants” had no bread.  But, bugs? 

Yup.  It’s been six years since the United Nation released a report stressing that eating more insects could help fight world hunger, boost nutrition, and reduce pollution.   Apparently, it’s the younger crowd that is taking the lead on eating insects in the U.S.  As one said: “The millennials, they get it.  We can’t have beef anymore.” 

The U.N. noted than over two billion people worldwide already supplement their diet with insects.   Who knew that people in 130 countries consume 2,000 insect species?  We were surprised by the variety eaten—beetles, crickets, cockroaches, moths, flies, mosquitoes, wasps, dragonflies, weevils, ant eggs, butterflies, and cicadas.  In fact, some insects’ popularity as food has caused their population to decline.  That could be a motivation to eat pesky cockroaches.

One late night talk host recently ranted against U.N. bullies who want to make us eat bugs, jokingly pointing out that New Yorkers with bed bugs are technically ranchers.   Okay, funny.  But, insect farming is on the rise. 

Bugs even have a trade association!  It’s called the North American Coalition for Insect Agriculture.  Its mission is to become “a consolidated voice to encourage positive growth of insects as both feed and food.”  The organization makes the case for using insects as feed for everything from fish to farm animals. 

The edible insect industry is already churning out protein bars, pastas, and chips made from bugs—mostly crickets.  It brags about insects’ ecological and health benefits.  Brags that raising insects produces fewer greenhouse gases and uses less water and space than beef, chicken, and pork.  And, brags that bugs are also good sources of protein, fiber, and fatty acids.  

That ignores the ick factor.

Yet, cricket flour is a thing, and it’s showing up in those protein bars and baked goods.  Check out the recipes online!  Insect pasta (ground buffalo worms) may be cool with the kids, but we’ll stick with Italian.  Amazon is selling packs of chocolate dipped insects, though they are marketed as “perfect for pranks” and an “awesome gag gift.”  Ironically, the reviews are terrific.

The Insect Club in Washington, D.C., got lots of buzz—forgive us—when it opened in the 1990s, serving its patrons “mealworms Rockefeller.”  It soon closed down.  It was before its time!  

Yes it was.  Media coverage of the Linger restaurant in Denver describes how the “chef tosses black ants with white rice and tops a wok-fried heap of vegetables with diced crickets and grasshoppers”— a dish called Sweet and Sour Crickets.  Yum?

Entomophagy.  This is the word that describes the practice of humans eating insects.  It certainly wasn’t a word we knew, much less pronounce.  Spell check even questioned it.  We wanted to learn to pronounce it so we can be cool, but we doubt we will be participating in the practice.  A study of oldies’ eating habits indicates that we avoid the latest food fads loved by millennials, with 35 percent of us opting for traditional foods.  Over 50 percent of us have never touched avocado toast or tried quinoa.  We’re guessing a higher percentage of us will not be buying cricket flour.

And, we suggest that no one research the source of red dye 4 that colors some candies, yogurt, ice cream, and even lipsticks!

Our wrinkled wisdom for today?  If asked if you’ve eaten an insect, remember that crabs, lobsters, and shrimp are closely related to insects, according to evolutionary researchers.  If you choose, smile and say, of course I’ve eaten insects.  If you want to be annoying, email the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and demand they investigate the conditions in which insects are mass produced.  We’re guessing that animal activists haven’t insisted that insects be killed humanely for food.  We call that speciesism!! 

Wrinkled Wisdom – What Old Lady?

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By Barbara and Marilee

Let’s embrace the term “old lady.” Our generation is reinventing what it means to be an older woman. Let’s take pride in our demographic revolution.
Today, there are more women over 50 in this country than at any other point in history. We oldies are not dowdy, out-of-date, or irrelevant. We are healthier, more vibrant, socially engaged, working longer, and have more income than previous generations. We will not be marginalized.
Women are the majority of Americans, the majority of grassroots donors, the majority of volunteers, and the majority of voters. We matter financially, culturally, and politically.
Yes, “old lady” can be slang for a girlfriend or wife…someone about whom men care. But, other than “cougar,” try to conjure up a single appreciative or respectful word to describe an older woman. Some are really dated, like hag, crone, and harridan, which, like the term “old lady,” were first noted in 1599. That’s really ironic since the average lifespan at that time was around 40.
Think Hollywood. Okay, women heroes tend to be young. However, actress Glenn Close, 72, was nominated for her seventh Oscar this year for her role in The Wife. Last summer’s movie, Book Club, which starred four older women, was a cotton candy of a movie, but a full-blown success. The Netflix television series Grace and Frankie, featuring Jane Fonda, 81, and Lily Tomlin, 79, will return for season six in 2020 and has legions of devoted fans. Bette Midler at 71 was a smash in Hello Dolly. Love the recent article headlined: 50 Actresses Over 50 Who Still Rule Hollywood.

Just smile and roll your eyes at the old, or just older, ladies often cast as witches or evil stepmothers. And, savor the sweet, but deadly, old ladies in the 1944 movie Arsenic and Old Lace.
Last year, the clothing brand Twisted Twee released t-shirts featuring a number of the demeaning terms commonly used to describe us. The young, British founder Suzi Warren explained, “I reckon the time has come to reclaim the rude and unkind words used to describe older women.” Yes! That’s the spirit! Wear those t-shirts proudly!
As for the fashion industry in general, it needs a wake-up call. Fashions on runways, television, and social media are trendy, vibrant, exciting. And, totally aimed at young people. Just look at Project Runway. A recent episode irritated numbers of people by constantly warning contestants not to go full “old lady.” Or too “mother-of-the-bride.” Or too “mumsy.”

Okay, they are throwing more models over 50 on the runways. But, the fashion industry would be wise to remember that we old ladies have quite a bit of purchasing power. And, we aren’t interested in much of the clothing in stores today, which is poorly made using impractical materials that are almost disposable; and, entertainingly, reminiscent of the 60s ,70s, and 80s. Been there, done that.
Hey, we still wear the well-made clothes with classic lines that have been hanging in our closets for years, even decades, because they don’t age. We just cut out the shoulder pads from our 80s’ purchases. We also like leggings and yoga pants, but we are mindful of body type and the occasion.

We have no desire to enter the Notre Dame leggings’ fray instigated by a Catholic mom of four sons. Her letter, published in the college’s student newspaper, implored female students to start an anti-leggings trend after seeing young women wearing them to Mass. We were impressed kids even go to Mass. Lust, you will recall, is one of the seven deadly sins whether at Mass or the gym!

So our winkled wisdom for today? Give whomever dares to call you an old lady to your face a high five! Take pride knowing we are not fearful or invisible—although invisibility has many advantages. Don’t fall prey to trends that are not our friends! Continue to believe in quality not quantity. Embrace your gray hair! And don’t be embarrassed to wear attractive, yet sensible shoes. We older women can teach kids a thing or two about style.

Oh, and P.S. Take solace in knowing we old ladies can nap whenever we feel like it. Our eyes won’t get much worse; our secrets are safe because our friends’ memories are no better than our own; almost all the difficult, major decisions in life are behind us; and we can stop trying to keep up with technology. That’s what the grandkids are for!

Wrinkled Wisdom: Yes, No, Maybe

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Proverbs…aphorisms…saws…maxims…morals…adages…axioms.  We’ve all grown up with these short, pithy sayings that reportedly state a universal truth or provide a piece of advice.

Their popularity waxes and wanes, but people have been espousing these pungent putdowns, pronouncements, and purportedly practical advice forever!

Some are useful.  Some are not.  Some are outdated.  Some have been wrongly appropriated.  The New Yorker recently published an entire page of updated sayings related to science and climate.  When it rains it pours became when it rains it acid-rains.

We like this concept of updating, and thought it might be fun to critique, discuss, and recommend eliminating some common aphorisms.

We’re sure you’ve heard someone emphatically assert that we should kill all the lawyers.  Shakespeare included the line in his play Henry VI written in 1591.  But, it was the bad guy who wanted to be king who said it.  Historians write that Shakespeare meant it as a compliment to attorneys and judges who instill justice in society.

Interestingly, the American Bar Association published an article titled:  “Why Is It That Lawyers Get Such A Bad Reputation?”  It surprisingly referenced defending the guilty, charging outrageous fees, and chasing ambulances.  But, proclaimed in the end, as does Shakespeare, that lawyers are the “glue that holds a civil society together and keeps America and other nations from being anarchist states or volatile, chaotic republics.”  Okay, let’s give this one a MAYBE since it still has some appeal.

How about a watched pot never boils?  Benjamin Franklin is said to have alluded to this proverb in the mid-1700s.  Of course, it is literally not true.  It’s meant to describe how time seems to go slower when waiting for something to happen.  And, even if we did take it literally, forget it.  Today we have microwaves!  So, into the dust bin.  We’re giving it a NO.

We enjoy irritating the kids with one of our favorite maxims—with age comes wisdom.  Studies appear to confirm this.  Weseniors are better at solving social conflicts, seeing multiple points of view, searching for compromise, and acknowledging what we don’t know. But, scientists also point out that wisdom is knowledge gained through experience, not age, so we oldies can’t claim all the wisdom.  This should be a NO, but we’re going to give it a YES because we’re old and like to flaunt it.

Beauty is only skin deep.  Amen. A YES!  It is what it is.  True, but incredibly annoying.  Stop using it so it dies.  A definite NO.   Is revenge best served cold?  YES!   We would note that Game of Thrones may have revitalized this one.  But, all’s fair in love and war? NO.  We don’t advocate winning by ignoring the rules or behaving unethically.  Think Wells Fargo.

The only certainties in life are death and taxes.  Well, we would include insurance and trash!  So MAYBE?  Too many chiefs, not enough Indians.  NO.  Not PC.  Let’s just drop it!  Maybe substitute too many cooks spoil the broth?

Strike while the iron is hot.  Hmmm.  This maxim is dated.  Millennials don’t iron, they buy clothes that don’t require ironing, spray them with “wrinkle release,” or steam them in the clothes dryer.  Besides, this one really refers to blacksmithing.  Guess it could work in an updated context like playing a hot game of golf.  A MAYBE, maybe?

Children should be seen and not heard.  When we were young, we totally disagreed.  Now? Not so much.  A YES. Where there’s smoke there is fire.  Wait.  We live in Colorado.  Marijuana is legal.  That means vaping.  So, NO.

And, we love axioms that accurately describe opposing truths.  Absence makes the heart grow fonder or out of sight, out of mind.  We’ve experienced both.  YES!

So our wrinkled wisdom for today?  Shakespeare’s Polonius dishes advice: clothes can make the man.  Don’t repeat verbatim.  It’s 2019. Include women!  But, don’t judge a book by its cover reminds us that we shouldn’t prejudge the worth or value of someone or something by outward appearance alone. Also, be aware that nothing ventured is nothing gained, but sometimes it is better to be safe than sorry.  And, yes, a penny saved is a penny earned.  All the more reason young people should invest in an IRA.

Visual Acuity

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Ghosts!!?? Apparitions of some sort!!??

Okay, we don’t believe in ghosts.  But, what are those flickers of light in the corners of our eyes that create the illusion of elusive shadows lurking around the house?

Time to visit the eye doctor for a reality check.  Hmmm.  Just manifestations of eye issues, we’re told— “floaters,” leaky vitreous fluid, double vision (there are not two dogs coming toward you), macular pucker, stressed retinas, cataracts (get the upgraded lens), and corneal conditions….take your pick.

Ah…..another sign of aging.

Everyday visual challenges are exasperating.  Can’t read the number on the prescription bottle to reorder.  Can’t read the amount owed on bills.  Can’t read the due date for paying the bills.   Don’t these organizations realize that some of their customers are oldies?  Use larger print!  Seeable colors!  The easy answer?  A magnifying glass.  Oh, and yes, perhaps we should opt for paying bills online.

Wow.  Amazon really hypes magnifiers with lights for seniors, emphasizing that they end struggling to read tiny print.  The promo language also points out that these magnifiers are great for reading in bed without waking your partner, and are useful for parents and school nurses inspecting children for lice.  Okay.  Hadn’t thought of that.  Bad image!

We’re oldies, but we do own a cell phone and have learned to use its flashlight to read menus in dimly lit restaurants.  Carrying around a magnifying glass would be a bit embarrassing.

Not only has a magnifying glass now become a necessity to read fine print, a magnifying mirror has become essential paraphernalia.  Essential for nailing those black and white hairs growing from our chins, those errant hairs emerging from our ears and noses, and those seemingly foot-long ones jutting out of our eyebrows!  Yes!

Other visual challenges?  How about coping with the glare from headlights while driving at night or sun reflections during the day?  Yikes, those low, huge, setting suns are stunning…stunning in their ability to blind us!  What’s happening?  Those darn lenses are scattering the light as it enters our eyes rather than being focused precisely on the retina, creating an exaggerated glare.  Listen for glare warnings from traffic helicopters.  Really, weather reports include glare!  Wow, who knew?

And, it’s tougher when we are going someplace we haven’t been before at night because reading street names in the dark from a distance is almost impossible.  Love it when it is a numbered street.  Easy, 112th comes after 111th.  But, then they squeeze in a street with a name!  Rude!

Got a giggle when older friends would jokingly say they only dated individuals who could drive at night.  Thought they were kidding.  They weren’t.

“Visual acuity” is defined as the sharpness of our vision.  The test for visual acuity is our ability to identify which vile line of those tiny letters we can still see when tested at the eye doctor’s.  We flunk.  Who doesn’t need reading glasses at our age?  Thank heavens the eye chart for drivers’ licenses is more forgiving, and we don’t have to wear glasses while driving.

We recently wrote about being both literally and figurative thin-skinned.  Visual acuity is the visual equivalent.  We can’t see some stuff, and we really don’t want to see some other stuff.

So our wrinkled wisdom for today?  Make your ophthalmologist your best friend.  Forget hoping for good grades on that visual acuity test.  Can’t read something?  Forget your pride and grab the magnifying glass.  When searching for that least noisy restaurant table, check out the lighting, too.  And, remember, the CEO of Uber said people won’t own cars in 10 years, so night driving won’t be a problem.  Of course, it won’t matter to us since by then the kids will have taken the keys and put Uber/Lyft apps on our cellphones.

Senior Moments

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What was the point I was about to make?  Did I close the garage door?  Lock the car?  Why did I come into the kitchen?  Ah…we label these senior moments.  Is dementia or Alzheimer’s just around the corner?  Nope.

Stop worrying!  Oops.  Actually, worrying about senior moments—those familiar lapses in memory—is healthy.  People with dementia aren’t aware that they just had a senior moment.

Let’s get real.  We’re oldies.  Our brains change, making it more difficult to dredge up certain facts or memories.  The hormones and proteins that repair brain cells and stimulate growth have begun to decline.  Age-induced forgetfulness is normal just like bad knees, sagging skin, and cataracts.

We oldies have probably brushed our teeth 50,000 times and closed our garage doors 40,000 times.  These repetitious activities are now automatic.  We are often thinking about something else while doing them…like…shall I listen to classic rock or jazz on my car radio?

Reality monitoring is a term used to describe focusing on common activities we do so frequently that we have difficulty remembering if we actually did them.  A reality check is easy, we’re told, because the actions we perform leave behind memory records that are different from actions we think about.  Okay, if you say so.

But, we do like the concept of reality monitoring to help us determine which repetitive activities we most frequently fail to remember.  Once identified, develop a ritual.  We put our seatbelt on as the garage door clatters down.  Done.  No worries.  Garage door closed.

It’s not just us oldies.  At any given age, we’re improving at some things and getting worse at others.  The brain’s processing power and detail memory peaks at age 18, according to research.   The ability to learn unfamiliar names peaks at age 22.  And, facial recognition peaks at 32.  Okay, we think we feel better now.

Research also found that people of all ages often forget who someone is and personal details about them.  And, forgetfulness isn’t limited to someone we’ve just met.  We forget acquaintances, coworkers, classmates, and friends.  We forget shared experiences.  Most younger people excuse the “forgetter;” but, apparently, the individual loses points in a dating relationship.

Oldies are even more forgiving because, well…been there, done that.  Plus, we’ve probably already forgotten what you told us.

And, we found this interesting theory called memory decay.  Hmmm.  How appropriate.  We know something but can’t retrieve the information.  The reason?  We don’t use the information regularly.  Yes, we once knew who sang Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head.  Storage of new information is also believed to interfere with recalling older information.  Never did “use it or lose it” make more sense!

We’ll close with one of our favorite lines we often quote to each other walking out of a store after shopping.  It’s okay to forget where your car is parked.  It’s not okay to forget what your car looks like.  Another reason to value handicapped parking.  It’s close in.  Makes it easy to spot your car!

Our wrinkled wisdom for today:  Write yourself notes.  Don’t be naïve.  You won’t remember in the morning.  Same with New Year resolutions.  Did we break them or just forget what they are??  Have a place for everything and everything in its place.  Don’t overdo it.  But, put your keys in the same spot when you walk in the door.  Have fun playing word games and online bridge.  Do crossword puzzles and Sudoku.  Great for keeping that aging brain with it.  Pay attention to each action you perform even if you’ve done it tens of thousands of times already.  And, remember that you said you would never drink that much again…ever again.

Bad Driving, the Sequel

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We beg your indulgence. We know we have addressed bad drivers previously, but we have some additional observations. And, we just have to vent…again.

Part of the impetus for this sequel was the newspaper headline shouting: “A man thought female drivers were ‘incompetent’—so he shot them, police say.”  Okay, so a Texas man hates women drivers so much he shot two of them in the arm because he doesn’t believe they should be behind the wheel. He should have looked at the facts.

Apologies to male readers, but the truth is that men get in more car accidents than women.  One study indicates that 80 percent of all auto accidents that kill or seriously injure pedestrians involve male drivers. In fact, men dominate in every traffic violation category.  They are more likely to get cited for reckless driving, driving under the influence, stop signal and seat belt violations, speeding, and failure to yield.  To keep this in perspective, women were issued over 160,000 DUI violations one year.  We obviously are not saints.

Yet, there is good news. Insurance companies have taken note. Car insurance tends to be cheaper for women.

We’ve already groused about bicyclists who believe they are entitled to the right of way, forgetting that, in an accident, they will be the big loser.  We’ve grumbled about people of all ages who text while driving or are on their cell phones.  We love the new products that block teens from sending or receiving texts while driving and also disable other phone features while the car is in motion.

Here’s an interesting twist. By next July, all new electric cars and hybrid models in Europe will have to emit a noise when travelling at low speeds.  The reason? Pedestrians and bicyclists can’t hear them and accident statistics are way up.  Now the fight is over what sort of sound the cars should emit.  Some are suggesting the “white sound” of falling water, which they describe as pleasant and easily identifiable as the source. We love it.  Politicians promoting electric cars as the future support making them noisier.  Who’d a thought??  Guess electric bikes are next.  Till then, check your rearview mirrors.

Speaking of noise, motorcyclists apparently like loud pipes.  Okay, we get it.  They think they’re cool.  Not, however, late at night or racing to pass us in and out of traffic.  That noise out of nowhere can trigger steering wheel jerks that lead to accidents.  Again, that’s why we refer to motorcyclists as organ donors.

What we really want to bellyache about is parking lots.  They are home to lots of activity in a relatively small amount of space—kids, moms, seniors, shopping carts, cars, and more cars.  Parking lots are danger zones.  Really…danger zones!

Parking lots give us a false sense of security because we expect traffic to move slowly.  Forget throwing caution to the wind!  Rather, think of parking lots as demolition derbies. Cars speed through looking for a spot. And often go the wrong way.

Crashes occurring in parking lots and garage structures result in over 500 deaths and more than 60,000 injuries each year. And, around the holidays, parking lots become even more dangerous.  A staggering one of every five motor vehicle accidents takes place in a parking lot. Even sadder, over a fifth of accidents involving children between ages five and nine are caused by drivers who fail to see the kids while backing up.  Yikes!

What is worse than returning to your car with groceries to find a truck on one side and a full-sized SUV on the other.  Talk about difficulty exiting your parking spot!  Backup cameras aren’t helpful until your tail is way out there.  Ooops!  Too late.

Our wrinkled wisdom for today:  Whenever possible, drive through the first parking spot to the second so you don’t have to back out of a space. Escape safely!  Call your insurance company and make certain you are being rewarded for being a woman driver.  And lobby your favorite mall to establish areas where trucks and larger vehicles must park. That will level the visual playing field and make parking lots safer for everyone.

Thin-skinned

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No, we aren’t just talking about Merriam Webster and its definition of “thin-skinned” as people who are easily bothered by criticism or insults, or fruits and vegetables that have thin skins or rinds, like peaches.

In fact, we suggest Merriam Webster update its definition of “thin-skinned.”  We’re talking about oldies’ thin skin and easy bruising.  Hey, what caused that black and blue mark?  I have no idea.

It’s not our imagination.  As we age, our skin becomes drier, thinner, and less elastic, and retains less moisture.  Menopause doesn’t help.  Add to that years of sun exposure, and, yes, pollution.  As kids, we spent our summers at the New Jersey shore.  Sun screens?  Nope.  We’re surprised we still have noses.  One in every five of us will get skin cancer eventually.

Speaking of sunscreens, Hawaii just passed a law to ban those with certain chemicals to protect marine life and our coral reefs.  The top sunscreens contain these naughty ingredients.  We’ve never even heard of the acceptable ones.  But it’s important to use them.

And, thin skin sags!  Think about an old rubber band that doesn’t bounce back.  This is what causes lines on our foreheads and around our eyes and the corners of our mouth.  Jowls!  Wattles!  You know—turkey neck.  Couple this with sagging skin resulting from losing height as our back discs flatten and our spines shrink.  We don’t have a chance!

That darn thinning of our skin is the cause of the easy bruising.  We’ve lost some of the protective fatty layer that cushions the blows.  Heck, most of the time, we don’t remember bumping into anything.  And, of course, more “good news”—women are prone to bruising more as they get older.

We understand the argument that hospitals not have squared off corners, but only rounded ones.  We’re not making that up.  It’s been researched.  Also, it’s dangerous to walk by low furniture or benches; the shins get so damaged and always in the same spot!

It’s not fun to wear slacks on the hottest of days; however, the bruises and bandages are unattractive.  No Band-Aids seem designed for adults.  Options are only those ugly, drab, beige ones.  We have resorted to the kids’ Band-Aids, which are decked out with Minions and princesses!  At least they are a conversation starter.  Now there’s a potential new market!  How about Band-Aids decorated with impressionist paintings or the Beatles???

Of course, there is the option of wearing Wikkies, which are marketed as revolutionary leg protectors for fragile thin skin.  Their website says the idea was born out of frustration and a desire to make a difference—and market a practical solution that works.  Yes, we are frustrated with bruising, but not enough to wear those bulky, ugly leg guards.  Heck, there are always the grandkids’ shin guards in a pinch.

Harking back to Webster’s definitions, we would be dishonest if we didn’t point out that our thin skin isn’t just literally thin, it’s figuratively thin when faced with ageism and young people’s stereotyping of and discrimination toward us oldies.  We knew we had crossed a line that day we were called “ma’am” rather than “miss.”  And since we are admittedly thin-skinned, we want to strangle people.

We resent their technology snobbery.  Yes, we can use Netflix.  Well, we can now that the remote has that listening feature!  Don’t these young people get it that aging isn’t a choice??  They will be there soon enough.  Too bad we won’t be around to see how they handle it and cope with distorted tattoos on their sagging skin.

Our Wrinkled Wisdom for today:   Remember, best of all, wisdom comes with age!  We were going to suggest cosmetic surgery, but Jane Fonda just said she hates the fact that “I’ve had the need to alter myself physically to feel that I’m OK,” and then mused that “I wish I wasn’t like that.  I love older faces.  I love lived-in faces.”  Sure.  Easy to say when you look great for almost 81.  So, try elevating bruised areas to drain fluid away from those black and blues.  It’s a perfect excuse to relax with a cold cocktail that can also be used to ice your latest bruise!  And, if vacationing in Hawaii, please, please, buy that approved sunscreen.