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Senior moments

Jam that in your generation gap.

Jam that in your generation gap.

One of the more irritating assumptions of government (and personal trainers) is the almost pathological certainty us punters want to live to a grand old age.

Enjoying a long life and all the marvellous benefits that accrue from peeing into a bag and being ignored by retail staff is apparently why people jog and squirt coffee grounds up their blurter at yoga retreats.

It's why we're endlessly warned not to smoke ciggies or drink to excess and, of course, not do drugs because we all know if you smoke pot or rack coke, you end up robbing servos wearing a tracksuit and brogues.

The idea that some people are here for a good time, not a long time, seems to be viewed as self-destructive or self-indulgent or any other self-ish you want to throw in there.

Consider, however, if this "go hard or go home" attitude stems not from nihilism or self-loathing, but a considered decision to avoid the humiliations of old age?

Social invisibility, institutionalised condescension, failing health, loneliness and borderline poverty are just a few of the crumbs left on society's plate for the elderly, now we've artfully set the table of longevity through sanitation, medicine and charity.

However, even before they've ripened for the retirement home, our aged must suffer the ignominy of being passed over in the workplace for younger, less experienced candidates.

They labour under the spectre of compulsory retirement, which though mostly unlawful in Australia is still enforced indirectly through a suite of subjective workplace measures and metrics.

There's also the charming medical practice known as "age-based allocation of resources" in which hospitals will unofficially give young patients priority over anybody with blue (or no) hair.

Which is hardly surprising given we live in an age that worships teenagers in their underpants and consigns the elderly to selling funeral insurance and adult nappies on Foxtel.

I'm just fascinated as to when the tipping point will be reached and the worldwide trend of an ageing population sparks a worldwide trend of resumed respect and engagement with those elderly.

When the majority of us on the planet are old, surely the authors of culture will see there's a buck to be earned making these people feel like they're still on the planet (or maybe even to help them to forget)?

Traditional societies recognised the imperative of revering the elderly, otherwise the young and dumb weren't socialised to support the aged and their accrued knowledge between the end of their productive lives and infirmity (when admittedly, they were often speared or abandoned).

We've lost the stomach for euthanising the aged but also for employing their wisdom because, hey, we can just Google anything we need to know, we don't need grandpa to tell us.

I'd love to live in a world where there's an old couple giggling on the bus, dialled off their nuts and it would be safe for them to do it.

It'd surely give us something to look forward to because I know the prospect of golf, sing-a-longs and doctor's appointments are not filling me with anticipation.

However, if the doc was also dropping some goodies on us? At least our sunset years might involve a few wildly inappropriate sunrises before we shuffle off to the great certainty.

You can follow Sam on Twitter here. His email address is here.

70 comments

  • I am planning a disgraceful old age filled with blunt observations about the world around me phrased in inappropriate and mildly offensive language, a complete disregard for social norms and probably indulging in a range of activities I have told myself are not appropriate for someone with young kids. This will differ markedly from my life today because...oh....damn.

    Commenter
    SmartMonkey
    Date and time
    May 22, 2013, 3:44PM
    • I'll see you on the porch. You bring the moonshine, I'll bring the whittlin' knives. And the prescription drugs.

      Commenter
      Stormy
      Location
      Cumberland Oval
      Date and time
      May 22, 2013, 8:47PM
    • The issue is not how many years its how you feel. The problem with the debauched middle and later years is how shitty and disgusting one feels in the attempt to carry on regardless. You know the liver & kidneys and joints [ knees and shoulders ] function poorly and give pain and suffering after the second bottle of red wine and cigars etc. So big bravado for the hero who wants to rage on . But as the song goes : THERES GOT TO BE A MORNING AFTER......

      Commenter
      Gj
      Date and time
      May 22, 2013, 9:36PM
    • There is only morning after if you sober up.

      Commenter
      SmartMonkey
      Date and time
      May 22, 2013, 10:06PM
    • Stormy and SmartMonkey I will challenge you both to a swearing competition, no hesitation or repetition allowed, creativity encouraged.

      If you try a peeing competition and realise that you are actually old men after all I will throw you the mop in disgust and head off on the motorbike.

      Commenter
      nelly
      Date and time
      May 23, 2013, 6:34AM
    • I like the idea of sitting on the porch whittling. I whittled the kid next door a nice little fire truck. I whittled it out of a normal painted wooden fire truck that he had. It was mostly the same except that where it used to be painted and have straight lines, now the paint is gone and you can see the whittle marks.

      That's comedy. - Sam

      Commenter
      phillipe
      Date and time
      May 23, 2013, 8:17AM
    • @Gj ..sez .. THERES GOT TO BE A MORNING AFTER......
      No there doesn't ..

      Commenter
      Nicho
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      May 23, 2013, 8:41AM
    • Yes! Stormy and SmartMonkey swearing which whittling smackdown! I'll bring cake.
      nelly on a motorcyle? I would almost pay to see that.

      Commenter
      M
      Location
      mm_ssssshh@yahoo.com.au
      Date and time
      May 23, 2013, 10:11AM
    • If I could remember where i heard the whittling joke I would give credit.

      Commenter
      phillipe
      Date and time
      May 23, 2013, 10:19AM
    • There was an old woman near where I grew up. She would stand at her gate hurling accusations and criticisms at everyone who walked past. If anyone got too close she would grab them with her claws and shove 50p into their hand and tell them to go and get her bread/milk/cigarettes whatever. We always went, we always came back and we always stood there and copped the abuse for having short changed her (which we hadn't). There was a mix of fear and fascination and a certian kudos at school if you had run an errand for her. Like the scary womain in To Kill a Mockingbird, but no one actually went inside her house.

      That's my role model.

      SmartMonkey - drop M a line at that email address.

      Commenter
      nelly
      Date and time
      May 23, 2013, 12:42PM

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