Arrow-right Camera
Subscribe now

This column reflects the opinion of the writer. Learn about the differences between a news story and an opinion column.

Front Porch: Funny things happen when you’re of a certain age

I see people out there zip lining and mountain climbing, and here I am feeling good about myself because I got my leg through my underwear without losing my balance.

If you are a person of a certain age, I expect you’ll be laughing at that opening sentence, or at least nodding and smiling.

More and more, I’m receiving pass-alongs from friends with such observations or seeing posts with lists of funnies about aging. I’m the right demographic, so not only am I finding them amusing, they are occasionally a stab in the heart and more often than not, a chronicle of my evolving life.

As for the underwear thing (or even pants in general), I’ve long since abandoned trying to don them while on my feet. After many months of standing next to the bed while engaging in the task, so I have something soft and high off the ground to fall over on when the endeavor fails, I gave up and just sat down. As did my husband.

We each have our favorite designated spot to begin that initial garmenting of ourselves for the day. I’ve checked with friends, too. One takes her clothing into the bathroom when she gets up from bed and while, ahem, seated there, begins the undies process.

Adapt or die. Such are the realities of aging.

Here are a few others.

Some of my friends exercise every day. Meanwhile, I am watching a show I don’t like because the remote fell on the floor.

Variations on that theme – You may not be the usual person in control of the remote and only know a basic function or two, and the skill you need at the moment is not one you possess. Or the darned thingamajig isn’t working properly and you’ve no idea what buttons to push (hint: try new batteries).

While the initial comment is about being a couch potato, I firmly believe that remotes were designed by humorless engineers with no thought to older folks with arthritic fingers or who are just analog people trapped in this digital world.

And so … you watch whatever is on TV when it’s turned on, even (for most men) if it’s a program on quilting or (for many women) it’s on the best ways to skin a rabbit. Not to worry, something better will come on eventually, so just stay snuggled up in the recliner until help walks into the room or you doze off into what surely is a well-needed little nap.

This is not a gender-specific thing. I am the queen of the remote in our house, frankly, and in the home of good friends of ours, the husband is king of the device.

I don’t mean to interrupt people, but I just randomly remember things and get really excited.

This one happens all the time, especially with those of us having hearing impairments. Conversations with people zip and zoom along, people talk over one another, subjects change quickly. For those who don’t hear so well, they’re always a beat or two behind, as they have to be sure they’re actually hearing and digesting what they think they’re hearing.

So the conversational topic may have moved from foods we like to results of the recent election, when in the midst of someone’s animated oratory about political ethics, one lone voice pipes in: “I think mashed potatoes with cheese are better than French fries.”

Whence follows a stunned or awkward moment of silence.

Now unless someone has dementia or other ailment, this is that aging-interrupting-time-lag thing. Normal, and understood by boomers everywhere.

You know you’re getting old when friends with benefits means having someone who can drive at night.

I love this one. Not only is it funny on its face, it is so, so, so very true. I have a couple of friends who don’t drive at night and, frankly, aren’t that comfortable driving at all. And, for them, having other friends who are willing and able to be the chauffeur for lunches out or evening events, shopping or trips to the doctor – a gift of “benefits” is now different than the original meaning, and, in fact, much more appreciated.

Now that we have everyone washing their hands correctly … next week, turn signals.

I really don’t mind this tweaking about behaviors that are pretty exclusively ours, especially if it comes gently and with humor.

Surely you younger people have followed someone on the freeway with a turn signal blinking mile after mile. Or perhaps you’ve slowed down in city driving because the person in front of you is signaling a turn, but doesn’t turn … block after block … then you know you’ve got an older driver out there.

And should you then pass that person and look over, nine times out of 10, it’s your grandfather (or someone’s). We gray-haired citizens have just got to own it.

And finally …

I thought growing old would take longer.

Nope, it got here awfully darn fast. May as well smile and roll with the punches.

Voices correspondent Stefanie Pettit can be reached by email at

More from this author