Of my nearly four hundred readers I know there are all ages. While this post is about old age, please read on even if you are young. I’d like to hear from all demographics.
At what age are you old?
I’ve heard that 70 is the new 50. I’m not sure what that means but I believe it refers to a change in the way people think of old age. I remember many years ago when Medicare started to cover heart transplants they would only pay if the recipient was 55 or younger. After a while, it was determined that this was unfair because the rule was based upon chronological not biological age. Some people at sixty or seventy were actually younger and more likely to have a good outcome than other people at fifty. The rule changed.
I think this is a good example of the dilemma we face when defining old age. I recently read an article about a man who drove a red Mercedes convertible around his community in Florida. He often took his fiancée along on these drives. Does this make you think of an old person? Probably not. What if I told you he uses a walker? Does that signify that he is old? Perhaps, but the fact is that this man is 107 years old and his fiancée is 100!
What do you call old people?
This has become an important question and there are polls which indicate there is little agreement on a suitable moniker. Let’s look at a few choices. How about “retiree?” Some people have never had a job to retire from such as Moms who worked at home their entire lives. Thanks to changing Social Security rules people no longer retire at sixty-five as they were apt to do in the past. Many people are very healthy and active after retirement, are they old?
“Older?” Older than who? “Senior?” Isn’t that a person ready to graduate high school? “Aging?” Aren’t we all from infancy?
“Elder?” “Sage?” “Mature?” “Perennial?” You can see the problem with each of these so what do we call old people? One term I read about that has potential is “Super Adult!”
So that we don’t go through our golden years without a suitable title academics have come up with some terms used in research and publications. Some use “Young old” (60s & 70s) and old old (85 and up). The most formal are “third age” (retirement) and “fourth age” (infirmity) and I do find these more accurate.
Please tell me your opinion regarding which of these terms is most suitable for those of us who are definitely not young.
I have thought about those quotes from well-known men and my thoughts follow each in red:
“A beautiful woman with a brain is like a beautiful woman with a club foot.” Bernard Cornfeld This crook millionaire is dead now.
“The highest prize in the world of men is the most beautiful woman available on your arm and living there in her heart loyal to you.” Norman Mailer And besides all the women he had relationships with, he married six others, one whom he stabbed twice in the abdomen.
“There is no spectacle on earth more appealing than that of a beautiful woman in the act of cooking dinner for someone she loves.” Tom WolfeHe has a Ph.D. from Yale and has had an outstanding career as a writer. Since he has only had one wife one would assume she must be a really good cook.
“It’s the combination of marrying a beautiful woman three decades younger and my iPad that keeps me young.” Bruce ForsythHe was married three times and lived to be eighty-nine so apparently, his last young wife, a beauty queen, did keep him young. Or perhaps it was just the iPad?
“Surrounding myself with beautiful women keeps me young.” Hugh Hefner This old fart finally died in spite of all his beautiful Playboy Bunnies.
“My addiction has always been to beautiful women, being surrounded by them.” Corey FeldmanYeah, well okay, but you are no prize and you are also only 5’5” tall so it is doubtful they surround you for the reason that you believe.
BEAUTY – Maybe only skin deep, but so very essential for the female it seems.
BEAST – Was he really?
As I said earlier I often come to my conclusions and hold steadfastly to them without knowing the whole story. All I knew was that Beauty fell in love with a big hairy animal. I saw that as unacceptable on every level. Why must a female be so needy as to accept this as her fate? One reader pointed out that Beauty was good-natured and kind and that her virtues were rewarded. I had not gotten close enough to give much consideration to anything except what I saw as inequality.
My Granddaughter (the same one who insisted I watch Frozen) knowing my strong feelings about the lack of egalitarianism in fairy tales as well as life, in general, asked me recently if I knew the backstory of Beauty and the Beast. I did not, but I do now. She explained that he was not really a beast, but a young prince who had been cursed by a wicked fairy. Only the love of a beautiful young girl could break the curse, but he was not allowed to tell Beauty that. She referred me to a group of podcasts that tell an earlier “non-Disneyfied” version of the tale. As I listened to the podcasts I learned that this was a complex story involving multiple cultures, families, communities, and fairies both good and bad. https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/tales/id1345709834?mt=2
It was shocking to learn how long this story has been around and how much it has and yet has not changed over the centuries. My interest being kindled I began to research more about the origins and found that the original was written in France in 1740. The original author was Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve but in an interview with the BBC http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-35358487 Dr. Jamie Tehrani stated: “Some of these stories go back much further than the earliest literary record and indeed further back than Classical mythology – some versions of these stories appear in Latin and Greek texts – but our findings suggest they are much older than that.” If this researcher is correct then such stories began as oral tales perhaps as long as 4,000 years ago.
Another interesting theory is that the Beast was based on a true story. There are paintings from 1580 of a man named Petrus Gonsalvus who had long hair on his entire body and face, a condition called “hypertrichosis” or “Ambras Syndrome.” Gonsalvus as a child was abducted to the court of King Henry II who was reportedly interested in peculiarities. He was kept on as a court jester until the death of the King. After a marriage was arranged by the late King’s wife through trickery he was allowed to leave with his surprised (horrified?) wife. They had seven children, three of whom had the same genetic syndrome and who were removed from the home to please other wealthy royalty.
The original tome by Barbot de Villeneuve was first abridged in 1756 and then again in 1889. Since that time it has evolved through books, on stage as an opera and ballet and in movies. It has even been on television including The Hallmark Hall of Fame. When I’ve considered TheBeauty and the Beast up until the past couple of weeks I had no idea that its history went back perhaps to the Bronze Age. Does that make its story better? Does it make it more acceptable? Apparently, it does for it to have endured so long and to have been enjoyed by so many.