Sense and Nonsense: A birthday means a whole lot more than physical age

By Lynda Hollenbeck

Birthdays mean different things to different people.
Remember how excited you'd be as a kid to know a birthday was coming up and you'd be anticipating presents and parties and such?
I was such a naive child that I didn't realize many children didn't have those niceties, and thankfully with many more birthdays that followed, I wised up and realized there truly is more joy to giving to others than getting for oneself.
Nowadays I'm grateful for each birthday because I am more acutely aware of the alternative. I'm thankful I'm still here and kicking (and to know that I literally can, on the dance floor and off).
But on the lighter side, there is that age thing. I work with several young people who consider me somewhat of a relic. For the most part, they seem to appreciate my knowledge and, for lack of a better word, what we'll call wisdom, but then they do love to needle me about being "old."
First of all, I don't think of myself as old. I've known people throughout my life who were "old" at 17. I've known others who were/are "young" at 90. Age truly is a state of mind more than chronology of years.
One of the "old" people I've known happens to be a really close friend, so this is not something we discuss. She never would understand what I'm talking about. I love her, but we don't jell because she's regimented and meticulous and I'm random and unorthodox in many areas.
We just have to respect our differences.
But again there's the question you hear over and over, "How old are you?"
I never ask that question unless forced to. I invoke he HIPPA law and any other edict I can think of to quell the inquisitors.
Years ago my good friend, Lynda Jones (the other Lynda Lou), suggested that we just pick an age and keep it from now on. She had decided on 32 for herself and I picked 36.
"Oh, that will be good," I told her. "I can tell people I'm the perfect 36, and maybe they'll not fall out of their chairs laughing."
With all the stuff we see advertised on TV these days, it appears that one never really has to look old. If everything works that is touted to "youthen" a person, wrinkles and sags would disappear into Neverland.
That would be OK, of course, if it were that simple. A jar of the magic potion to bring about a youthful look is fine, but when you get into cutting and lifting by surgical means, I have a lot of questions and concerns.
I've seen entertainers still beautiful, though slightly more mature looking, suddenly be unable to smile because of a procedure that's been tried to take away what time has done.
Growing older with style, to me, is preferable, to a face that can't move. Just my opinion, of course.
There was a time when 40 sounded like it could be fatal. Fortunately, I got past that and realized you can still have pizzazz at just about any age.
Shunning the revelation of the actual number apparently is a family trait. When my mother was 86, she took offense when her doctor mistakenly said to her, "Now, let's see, you're 87 now ... "
He could have been felled by Lillie Parnelll's look alone, but she topped it off with, "I am NOT 87! I'm only 86!"
The good doctor offered profuse apologies and she eventually forgave him, but it took a while.
One of my favorite real-life age-related episodes happened after I had become a mother the third time around. I was "carded" before being allowed into a movie theater.
I was so flattered that I never checked to see if the ticket-seller was visually impaired.
Recently, while marking another birthday, I was again asked, "How old are you?"
I've decided my stock answer to this query, henceforth, going forward, shall be: "Old enough."
That's all they need to know.

Lynda Hollenbeck is senior editor of The Saline Courier.