Beat the heat or interact with grandchildren: How not to act old

Sandra Reed
Sandra Reed

Given so much bad news in the world and the ungodly heat, I decided to write a column that, readers could employ, as an antidote, like watching reruns of Seinfeld to take the mind off the misery.

Almost 10 years ago I read this little book titled How Not to Act Old by Pamela Redmond Satran. The intriguing cover features a clothesline to which are pinned a pair of granny cotton panties and a leopard-skin patterned thong. You get the idea.

Satran’s book is divided into delightful segments, each instructing the uninitiated on how to avoid acting old, some of which are highlighted below.

  1. 1.   “Stop Using Email”

            Like there’s “Stop Using Email.” Just when you got used to emailing instead of snail mailing, it’s out of style. You’ve got to “Text” or “FB” (that’s Facebook, in case you aren’t in the know) instead. Come to think of it, Satran’s book may be out of date already. Your grandchildren may roll their eyes and tell you FB is passé. Snapchat and Twitter? Maybe. Most likely something I never heard of. 

"Avoid Direct Confrontation”

Forget all those books you read in the 80s about getting your anger off your chest and out in the open with directness. Satran says if your grandchildren are mad at someone, they stop returning their messages, defriend them on FB or send topless pictures of them by cell phone to all their friends.

Satran advises you to “do some deep breathing, take a yoga class, smoke a joint (I never said do this), drink a martini….”   And if you must raise the issue, do it electronically. Never in person. And use terms like “having issues” with the “process.” Then, if the person responds, either don’t respond at all or at least wait twice as long as the responder took to answer. This stuff is not easy.

“Don’t be Proud of Being Befuddled by Technology”

 Never, ever admit to being clueless how to use your computer, Google, the Cloud or Twitter. According to Satran “quietly hire a fourteen-year-old boy as a tech consultant.”  (I highly endorse this, too, except I’d get a girl) 

“Learn to Type with Your Thumbs”

I consider learning to type with your thumbs as a corollary to No. 3 above. And, for heaven’s sake, don’t ever carry a flip-phone. That one’s on me. Satran seemed to have assumed this went without saying. 

“No Poodles”

Who’d have thought your choice of a pet could peg you as old. But apparently, it is a dead giveaway to be walking a poodle, toy or standard. If you must have a small dog, make it a Yorkie or a Dachshund, Satran says. (Personally, I’d rather have a Westie.) The “in” big dog is a Lab or a Labradoodle.

“Don’t Say the Doctor, the Cop, or the Teacher ‘Looks Twelve’”

According to Satran, describing an authority figure as twelve is not only no longer a funny joke. It means “your point of reference has become alarmingly warped” and, an admission that you probably look a hundred and eight.

“No Chronic Health Discussions”

As Satran puts it “no one wants to hear about your hernia, your endometrial biopsy, your colonoscopy prep, your polyps, your heel spurs, your Botox injections, your periodontal treatment, your nice young gastroenterologist, your implants, your rosacea, your collapsed thumb joint, your bursitis, your neck wattle, your reflux or your constipation.” Nuff said.

Just in case you think I have covered the gamit here, there are 178 more of these jewels in How Not to Act Old that will make you laugh out loud. Hope these few at least give you chuckle.

Oh, and by the way, you must never admit to watching Seinfeld. It’s just one of 10 other cultural references that are sure to date you. 

Sandra W. Reed is an attorney with Katten & Benson, an Elder Law firm in Fort Worth. She lives in beautiful Somervell County, near Chalk Mountain.