Why is it that commencement speeches are given only to college graduates? What about folks commencing an even more momentous part of their lives — middle age? We could tell them something like this:
A Middle Age
Thank you for that warm welcome. Or is it me? In any event, I’m very honored to be here today, addressing you, my fellow flossers, at the commencement of middle age.
In this season of graduations, I say that though we don neither cap nor gown (unless we are going in for what everyone now calls a “procedure” instead of its rightful name, surgery), we, too, are entering a new stage, sure as any college graduate. Only they get a summer off before jumping in. Us, we jumped in so long ago that now our fingers are all wrinkly and we want to come out but fear that all that awaits us is the beach towel that is death. And so—
Ahem. I seem to have lost where I was.
Ah, yes. As I stand before you today — you get to sit. Must be nice! Me, I just keep standing, despite the fact my big toe is beginning to bulge like a handle growing on a mug. And I know that for you, too, this is a time of new beginnings.
Someone once said, “A rich man is he who is content with what he has.” Unless what he has is acid reflux. Then all of a sudden he needs Prilosec. Who doesn’t? People are stealing it now. Ask your pharmacist. After all, my fellow mid-lifians, that is precisely what we will spend the rest of our lives doing anyhow.
Why, just the other day, I asked my pharmacist, “Who was that guy in the movie with Barbara Stanwyck about the communists?” And she replied: “Warren Beatty, in ‘Reds.’ And it was Streisand. Is that a box of Prilosec under your coat?”
In truth, it matters little whether it was or wasn’t. And so what if it was? As we look forward to a brighter tomorrow, what really matters is that middle age is far, far more than a collection of medical indignities! It is a collection of social indignities, too.
Sheesh! You casually mention an activity you enjoyed as a child — getting off the couch to change the channel, say, or fixing a mistake with Wite-Out — and conversation among your youthful colleagues screeches to a halt. Emergency anthropologists are rushed in to record your rustic tales before they are lost forever. The young people save your memories on a Snapchat story, which you could share with your friends, except that, being middle-aged, you have no idea how to do anything on Snapchat.
Nor are you on Slack, a word you still regard as the singular of “slacks.” “Yik Yak” sounds to you like a candy bar. It also reminds you of that “Splish splash, I was taking a bath” song that you first heard on a record. Vinyl! Which now seems incredibly hip. And speaking of hips…
No. I won’t go there. I will simply conclude with my conclusion, which is: Fear not! There are great days ahead. Days filled with joy, adventure, friendship — and not just the cottage cheese kind.
As we enter this exciting lull between group sex and Grape- Nuts, let us remember how lucky we are to be here.
And how we can’t leave anyhow, until we remember where we parked the car.
Lenore Skenazy is author of the book and blog “Free-Range Kids” and a keynote speaker at conferences, companies and schools.