There was a Twitter exchange after a recent American Idol concert that touched a nerve in my 51-year-old body.
CJMJDCFan tweeted to BybeeDJames: "Speaking of ear plugs..a man w/ his family told me that this was an AI concert-we needed to stop screaming and act our age!"
BybeeDJames responded: "Poor guy..I would hate to be that miserable. I hope I never act my age!"
All I could think of when I saw that was, Amen, Sister! I don't care how many notices I get from AARP or how many well-intentioned grocery baggers call me Ma'am, I'm not going to sit down with my knitting needles and behave like an old lady. I'm going to redefine what it means to act my age!
Just what does that mean anyway -- act your age? Isn't the fact that you're behaving some way, at any age, mean you are acting your age? By definition if you, at age whatever, do something -- you are doing it as a person of that age. When people say that, what they are really telling you is to act in accordance with their pre-conceived notion of how someone of your age should act. As if there is a rulebook out there somewhere that prescribes appropriate behavior at each age we pass through.
Why can a six-year-old jump up and down as the Disneyland sign comes into view, but a forty-year-old can't as they spy the Las Vegas strip? Tweens can squeal over Justin Bieber, but a fifty-year old can't scream when Bruce Springsteen comes out on stage? Why should excitement and, yes, loud, over-the-top expressions of enthusiasm, be curtailed by the calendar?
Are middle-aged women that much different than the rest of humanity? Do we lose our rights to free expression when we see that first wrinkle? Must we conform to society's notion of what is proper? I'm reminded of Shylock's speech from the Merchant of Venice: "If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh?" He was asking if Jews were so different from Christians. I'm asking if women of a certain age are so different from their younger, or their male, counterparts.
Have you seen how men act at sporting events? When ever have you heard one of them, after jumping up and down, high-fiving till their arthritic hands ache, and screaming at the top of their emphysemic-sounding lungs, being told to act his age? They get a pass to act exactly as they would have twenty, thirty, forty years earlier. And that's fine. I love that about sports and I love that men have that outlet. But what about us ladies?
I went to see Pearl Jam last year for the first time and I wasn't a 50-year-old seeing them, I was just me, a fan since their first album,who had followed them for so long and was so excited to finally get to see them live. I didn't want to sit there quietly; this wasn't the opera (not that I would know; I may be old, but I don't do opera!). A rock concert has to be felt to be experienced. It's interactive. So, yes, I jumped up and down and screamed. So sue me.
If we choose not to curl up and die, but to be as full of joy and excitement as we were so long ago, that should be applauded. Women should be encouraged to continue to find enjoyment and passion and, yes, to show how they feel. This blog was started because I felt passionately about something and wanted to write about it. Extremes of emotions are not bad -- that's how we know we're alive. So squeal, jump, dance, shout, do whatever feels right and natural to express how you're feeling. It's your age -- act however you want!
What's My Age Again? by Blink182