Hitting the Big

by Shevi Arnold

Illustration for column goes here.

Today Iím hitting the big Four Uh-Oh, and it is hitting me back. Hard.

As my daughter watches a childrenís DVD, a commercial for The Cat in the Hat makes me think of the words in the book. Somehow theyíre different from the ones I remember.

But my mind said, ďNo! No!Ē

ďMake this day go away.

Tell the kids in the yard

I still want to play!

Iím not too old to go out!

Not too old to play ball!

Why should I stay in the house

And do nothing at all?Ē


 The problem is, here I stand in the middle of life, and it seems my best years are behind me. I used to be a political cartoonist. I was interviewed on television, radio, in newspapers and magazines. I was a consumer columnist, too. I wrote articles people loved to read, because I helped them save money and avoid scams. I was a blushing, wisecracking bride. I gave birth to two children and held them in my arms for the first time. I used to be somebody. I used to be a contender. But where am I now? A stay-at-home housewife thatís where.

 Iím not ready for this birthday! Iím young. I can still throw a Frisbee. Okay, so I might throw my back out at the same time, but that Frisbee will still get to itís destination. Eventually.

 To celebrate early (not) I went in for my 40-year, 100,000-mile check up. I discovered that after forty you have to start taking tests you didnít have to take before, like mammograms. You have to start worrying that something will kill you. Death becomes inevitable. It was always inevitable, but after forty you suddenly have to do something about it.

 So the next stage of my life I have to look forward to is menopause. Whoopee. Thatís a word Iíll never understand, menopause. Why should something that only happens to women start with the word ďmen?Ē And whatís the ďpauseĒ part? Is it only a temporary setback that starts at fifty and stops at sixty? The meno was paused but itís back now? No. It should be called woman-o-permanent.

 I was getting headaches so I went to the optician, too, in case I needed new glasses. It turned out my prescription was fine, but I might need reading glasses soon. I think nature tries to compensate for giving you fine lines and gray hairs, by also giving you bad eyesight so you canít see them.

 Maybe thatís why your hearing goes, too, so you wonít have to listen to that awful stuff the young fellers call music nowadays.

 And at what age do you start growing intolerant and using words like ďyoung fellers?Ē It seems whenever young actors play old versions of their characters, they always start talking with an accent they didnít have before, and itís usually Southern or Jewish. When am I supposed to start talking that way? I donít want to. And if I ever start using expressions like ďyoung fellers,Ē I hope it will be when Iím talking about my husband and his friends.

 The music teenagers listen to today doesnít bother me. I actually like some of it. I like Avril Lavigne and Vanessa Carlton. I like to watch kids' films and read childrenís books. Youth may slip away, but you can hold onto immaturity forever.

 On the bright side, Iím still younger than my older sister and older than my husband. Sheís eleven months older, and heís seven months younger. I know it isnít much of a difference, but it still makes me happy to be the little sister and a lady with a toy boy at the same time. 

 Iím also still younger than two out of the six cast members of Friends. Which is going off the air. Which means theyíll stay young forever, while Iíll just get older and older. Rats.  

 I also know this birthday wonít last forever. Someday Iíll be forty-one. (Arg!) And forty-two. (Akk!) And even fifty. (Oh, boy.) Of course, thatís better than the alternative. And who knows, maybe Iíll turn out to be another Grandma Moses. Maybe Iíll get my second wind at seventy. A whole new world of opportunities awaits me. Of course, if I want to see it, Iím going to need reading glasses.