(age­ing)

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Contents - Rob Bar­den Re­view this­[email protected]­tralian.com.au

The time comes for ev­ery­one — even­tu­ally — when you re­alise you are get­ting old. And that there are many things about it that no­body tells you.

Your big toes get big­ger. They look the same, but when you dress they now get stuck in your un­der­pants and trousers. You go into rooms and won­der why you are there. Dropped pens and pills no longer fall at your feet but spring away to hide un­der beds and so­fas.

No­body tells you that en­croach­ing deaf­ness is not just an in­abil­ity to hear but an abil­ity to hear wrongly. Why has your neigh­bour ad­mit­ted he has in­com­pe­tence pants? Why does church now in­clude five min­utes of silent war­ship? And why does your wife tell you there will be Viet­nam and legs for break­fast?

Why is the seven-day pill box you have had for years sud­denly in­ad­e­quate? Phar­ma­cists now rec­om­mend a cir­cu­lar con­tainer with tri­an­gu­lar Mon­day to Sun­day seg­ments; it looks like a fam­ily-sized pizza. (I’m wait­ing for a pill box with a pie sec­tion la­belled: “Take one af­ter fall­ing asleep.”)

Why do glasses go miss­ing more fre­quently? I stum­bled spec­ta­cle-less into the lo­cal li­brary and with­out look­ing up the woman be­hind the desk said: “Big-print sec­tion over there, dear.” And why af­ter a life­time of “mis­ter” or “sir” am I now “dear”?

Why do I have phone con­ver­sa­tions with health­care agen­cies who talk to me as if I’m a slightly re­cal­ci­trant seven-year-old? “Now, dear, did you man­age to fill in the form we sent you?”

“Yes, I’ve been fill­ing in forms for more than 60 years now.” “And did you man­age to sign it?” “What? Where it said ‘sign here’ in bold print, ital­ics, un­der­lined and with a red plas­tic stick-on ar­row point­ing to it? Yes, I man­aged.”

“Oh well done! Now just pop it in an en­ve­lope, pop on a stamp, pop down the post of­fice and pop it in the box.” Ap­par­ently we don’t go any­where any more, we “pop”.

Why can’t I get drunk and hi­lar­i­ously en­ter­tain­ing any more, in­stead of fall­ing asleep, so that a room­ful of tanked-up geri­atrics looks more like a cock­tail party and less like a dor­mi­tory?

How much older must I be be­fore some­one di­rects me to the spe­cial old coots’ shop where you buy trousers that come up to your chest, Hawai­ian shirts to wear un­der beige sport coats, white shoes, pink socks, and hats that Frank Si­na­tra cast off in 1956?

Why is the floor get­ting farther away ev­ery year, why does ev­ery flight of stairs gain an­other step ev­ery month and why are most of my emails from fu­neral in­sur­ance firms?

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