The Perks of Being 40-Something

by Terri Lively
Originally Published: 
Three older joysticks lined up on a table

It’s not vanity that makes me lie. (OK, maybe a little bit of vanity!) Mostly, I mislead them because one time I heard a little girl around 3-years-old tell a room full of people at my daughter’s dance class that her mommy was 47. Her mom just responded with that frozen smile we all use when our children mortify us, but we pretend we don’t mind.

In the wake of that age-outing and resultant tight-lipped smile, I decided right then and there I would not share my actual age with my kids. There would be no unwelcome announcements in crowded waiting rooms in my future. This defense won’t last though; their math skills keep getting better and better.

All deception aside, being fortysomething has some perks:

You can always identify the ancient or obsolete object pictured on Facebook.

You’re supposed to “like” it if you know what it is. What purpose do these posts serve except to make the viewer who knows what it is feel old? And don’t say nostalgia! Old people use this word to describe old-people things.

You can count on a left-handed compliment to help you practice your graciousness.

You know the ones, like, “You look great for fortysomething.” Here’s a hint to compliment givers: The compliment “you look great” should never have a qualifier. Another one of my favorites: “I hope I look that good when I am your age.” All I hear during this one is, “I am soooo much younger than you.”

You remember when game controllers featured one orange button and a stick.

They were called joysticks (!), and they wrecked your thumbs. Today’s controllers flummox me. There are too many buttons with letters and arrow keys. Apparently, one orange button and a stick is all my hand-eye coordination can handle.

You hear your music on the oldies station.

The first song I heard on the oldies station was “Every Breath You Take” by The Police. Next it was a U2 song. These weren’t on the soft rock, Christmas-music-in-October station either. I heard it on the Mr. Sandman station for your grandma! Of course, you can tell I’m fortysomething just by the fact that I have listened to an actual radio station in the past five years.

You have tons of super cute pool cover-ups.

I love pools and swimming. However, I don’t love wearing a bathing suit in public, especially around the young and the kid-less. To compensate for my natural decline, I have swimsuit cover-ups. Who needs a flat stomach when you dress like you’re on a shoot for a Chanel No. 5 ad? Besides, bathing suits are too risqué these days for my taste. I don’t like wearing bottoms that leave me wondering whether my C-section scar is showing.

You know how to fax.

Faxing is a lost skill. If you played the sound effect for a fax, I bet a lot of people under the age of 20 wouldn’t know what it is.

You made a mixtape.

Not a playlist, an actual, no-kidding, record-it-on-your-boom-box mixtape. Those of us who’ve done it know that you have to hit pause before you hit stop, so you don’t have obnoxious clicks in your tape’s playback.

You can ski.

You can do a snowplow, a stem Christie—and might even know how to parallel. (Snowboarders are so lost right now.)

You remember when thongs meant shoes.

Before the visible panty line became a fashion crime punishable by ridicule, thongs were sandals that only had a strap between your toes. I say flip-flops now, but it was a struggle. The catalyst for change was when I told my boss I needed to go put on my thongs, and he had an uncomfortable look on his face. Eeew!

You recall when Botox was a poison, not a treatment.

I can see my “angry 11s” reflected on my computer screen as I type this. As much as I love these little lines that announce my age to everyone I meet, there is no way I am going to inject poison into them. I earned these wrinkles through years of neurotic worrying and while troubleshooting wireless router issues on my home network. I’m going to wear them with poison-free pride and a super huge amount of facial expression.

You recognize when a waiter or waitress needs a good tip.

My husband and I were carded when we ordered sake at a sushi restaurant. We looked good that night, but not that good. As we dug out our IDs, I fought my impulse to point at my crow’s feet, and he fought his impulse to point at his hairline. Regardless of whether the carding was feigned or sincere, it worked. We tipped well.

So you can see I enjoy a lot of benefits from being in my 40s. Honestly, it could be worse. After all, every day above ground is a good day. Would I drink the blood of a twentysomething to steal her youth and power? Not yet.

But I might ask her to be my body double at the next pool party I attend.

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