I’d say about 90 percent of the time, I don’t feel my age at all. I’m fairly healthy, in decent enough shape, and I think my visage hasn’t changed much over the years. So when someone describes another person as “in their 40s,” in my head that someone is an adult who’s way older than me—despite the fact that I’m going to be 40 next year.
Forty? No. Not me. I’m not almost 40! No way! *Signs up for Snapchat or whatever it is the kids are apping on their phones nowadays.*
And then it happens. A small, insignificant thing that turns your regular day into a “midlife moment.” The moment when a reminder that you’re no spring chicken unexpectedly smacks you hard in the face, and often when you least expect it. Perhaps it’s while you’re simply browsing the grocery store for a head of lettuce, and “This Is How We Do It” starts playing over the loudspeaker…in muzak, which of course you immediately recognize. And then there you are: singing along and dancing in front of those poor heads of lettuce, who unfortunately for them, can’t run away from the stank of your old, old shame.
If you’re creeping up on your 40th birthday like I am, embarrassing stuff like that is bound to happen to you too, so you might as well know what to expect. Here are seven unexpected events that will remind you of your age:
1. You’re Older Than Friends Now
Friends was my jam, and yes, I still watch it on Netflix (daily), and yes, I still laugh at the jokes even though I’ve heard them a thousand times before. I started watching in high school and watched the final episode in my living room, holding my newborn baby and sobbing that the show was over (and also because I was sleep deprived). At the time, Joey, Chandler, Ross, Monica, Phoebe and Rachel still seemed like they were older and had it more together than me.
Then as time went on, I started to react differently toward certain parts of the show. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still my favorite show, but now I get slightly annoyed by the Ross and Rachel thing because I’m just now realizing that the whole love-triangle drama they had for years wasn’t really that complicated and could have been avoided with one long and honest conversation. Instead of fun adults, they’re now funny and amusing but slightly annoying 20-some-year-old, unrealistic characters (because really, what adult hangs out with the same five people every day?).
2. You Don’t Do ‘Waiting in Line’ Anymore—Especially for Food
Remember when Rosie O’Donnell was very vocal about her love for Krispy Kreme on her talk show? It was around that time that one finally opened up in my town. The line was out the door, and I was one of the people who happily waited in line to see if these donuts could produce the same foodgasm they clearly gave Rosie. Another time, I waited in line for eight hours for 15 seconds of face time with the casting crew of Deal or No Deal. No sweat.
But now, unless I’m at the DMV, waiting in a long line is simply not an option if I can avoid it. The last trendy thing I remember people waiting in line for was a Cronut. No matter how delicious and life-changing people claimed Cronuts were, I didn’t even entertain the thought of queuing up for one. Waiting in the hot sun for a pastry? Insanity. Why wait for that when I can get a maple bar and shove it in my mouth immediately?
3. There Are People Who Don’t Get Your Movie References
When I was in my early 30s, I didn’t feel any different than I did in my early 20s. I thought I was still a pretty cool chick—up until a younger coworker gave me a quizzical look when I said, “Bye, Felicia!” to another coworker who was trying to score a piece of my pizza in the break room.
“Wait. What? Who’s Felicia?” The young one looked at me with a face I suddenly wanted to smack with a Trapper Keeper.
Turns out, she had never even heard of the movie Friday, let alone memorize every masterpiece quote by heart like I had. I ordered her to rent…err…download the movie on her iPad, then watch it while she waited in line for her morning Cronut.
4. Your Favorite Songs Are Now Labeled ‘Classics’
The other day I was stuck in traffic and my phone had run out of juice, so I turned to the ol’ radio for some entertainment. I found a station playing “Just a Girl.” I sang along with Gwen at the top of my lungs like a fool, and then immediately after they played Alanis’s “You Oughta Know,” followed by “It Was a Good Day” by Ice Cube. I was having a fun little karaoke party in my car until I heard the station’s tag line, “Q104! The Greatest Classic Hits From the ’80s and ’90s!”
I felt so mature and old. I was mold.
In an effort to shake the feeling that I was turning into the kind of adult who’s into soft rock, I turned it to a regular Top 40 station—ready to prove to myself that I also know all the latest songs. But five minutes into listening, I heard the lyrics, “eat my booty like groceries,” and suddenly, I was sooo glad I’m not young.
5. Teens Look Like They Ransacked Your Closet From High School
I walked into a coffee shop the other day and thought I had walked through a time machine. The girl in front of me in the check-out line was wearing an updated baby doll shirt, ripped jeans and a pair of Doc Martens. It was like the ’90s had diarrhea’d all over her. Replace the Doc Martens with Spice Girls platform flip-flops, and this girl was me 25 years ago.
Fashion gets rehashed all the time, but the last time I remembered it happening, I was on the opposite end of the spectrum. I was in high school as the ’60s style was being revived, and I remember teachers telling me that my flared jeans were really just a fancy version of the bell bottoms they used to wear back in the day. I remember smugly thinking, “Whatever! My clothes are new! No one has ever seen what I’m wearing!” And now here I was, fighting the urge to tell this girl in front of me to get a choker so she could complete her ’90s look.
6. Becoming a Second-Class Consumer
When we are typical self-centered teenagers, we don’t notice that commercials, food, music and clothes are heavily marketed toward teens. A lot of companies base their entire brand on whatever teens find trendy at the moment. And it makes sense. Teens are highly social, and in general, a group of followers. So if the right teen likes your product, it could blow up and be the thing of the moment—along with taking selfies with their food and Instagramming it.
There’s a certain age when we get knocked down to second-class consumers (and by certain age, I mean nearing the big 4-0)—when commercials directed toward us are for things like control-top pantyhose and yogurt made specifically to “regulate” us. Most popular trends become so because of teens, and we oldies who still use our cell phones to make actual calls just don’t have the same clout. If you don’t believe me, shove yourself into a pair of skinny jeans and see if you still think they give a shit about us middle-agers.
7. You Get Sore…After Sleeping
Imagine getting hammered, going home and just falling asleep on the floor, the recliner, the bathroom floor, a throw pillow or in an impossible position, and actually sleeping? I did this more times in college than I can count, and I remember waking up the next day feeling just fine. Now, sleeping on a futon is like a nightmare. What sadistic weirdo thought sleeping on something that’s barely thicker than a sweatshirt was a good idea? The last time I thought I could pull off sleeping on a futon, I woke up the next day and felt like I had gotten zero sleep. There was also a wonderful pinching/numbing sensation in the middle of my back. What the hell happened?
Being almost 40 happened. An age when sometimes even your bed isn’t comfortable enough, and you get a serious crick in your neck if someone steals your firm pillow (looking at you, husband dear). And as for feeling refreshed after a couple hours of sleep, that has become such a distant memory that I’m not even sure it was a real thing to begin with.