Mutton Dressed as Ham

Warning! Warning! Reunion coming up! Less than six months away! Warning!

In summertime? Whose idea was that? Summer is hot. Summer is sweaty. Summer is arm flaps and soggy upper lips and frizzy hair. Summer is sticky, cellulite-riddled thighs squashed into shorts that ride up!

Summer is… panic!

Does the thought of a high school reunion have you sweating in your go-go boots? (If so, I’m really mad at you, because my mom said I was too young for go-go boots. Never got ’em.)

If you’re sweating too, fear not. You and I are not alone. Even the apes are stressed out. BBC has an article about mid-life crises in apes. Wow. Wonder why apes have angst. As they age, do they envy other apes’ lives, careers, relationships, vacation snaps on facebook? Do they fear death, or sexual invisibility, or loss of status within the group? Is there a difference?

Or are apes just worried about their appearance? Are their brow ridges feeling droopy? I don’t think they care. Apes don’t have to/want to/even have the chance to… go to a reunion. And all that hair hides the cellulite.

It’s no surprise that it’s not just apes having mid-life crises. Some people feel old well before they look it, and especially old during the holidays, or when a reunion looms. Bad news: there’s always a holiday coming up. Always a reunion. For all I know, some folks stare at glazed hams thinking that’s what they look like at the beach. But I always thought apes were immune to aging angst – until I read that article last year, on my birthday. A big birthday. A milestone birthday once considered the beginning of the end, but now thought by some to be the start of mid-life. (Yeah, right.)

So good news! We’re not aging, we’re “middling.” Cooked, but only on one side. And while we may share more physical traits with chimps (and hams, and beautifully browned turkeys) as the years go by, we have more options for what to do with the second halves of our lives. Take this “writing career” some of us have embarked upon, and by “some of us” I mean me. How many apes publish their first novel after 40, or 50? Or become political activists? Or learn new tech?

Sure, I’ve considered Botox for the brow ridges. (Maybe next year.) I dye my hair and look the same as always (just way more rumpled). I laugh through gritted teeth (all mine, still crooked) when someone tells a “past your sell-by date” joke. I wish I’d had my teeth straightened, years ago; but now, confronted with friends who’ve lost theirs, braces seem selfish and childish and vain.

So I’m fine, thanks for asking, crooked teeth and all. But some of my friends, when asked how they feel, answer “Old.” And they’ve given that answer for years.

Wait. If you’re “old” at 30, you don’t get to be “old” at 40, or 50. You need to upgrade your adjectives. Decrepit? Archaic? Mummified? (That last one won’t work; mummies aren’t famous for snappy come-backs.) And speaking of mummies, my mother-in-law is forever saying, “Don’t get old.” That could mean she thinks dying young is a splendid idea, because the young are succulent when baked in a pie – but she actually likes me, and I think she’s just looking out for me.

Life is like tech; you upgrade or die. New programs, new attitudes, new adjectives, new side dishes. We can stay succulent inside. When it comes to the outside, we can act our age, whatever that means, or we can slow the slide toward the gaping maw of decrepitude with hot naked yoga. Well, you can. I’m not going there, even in the privacy of my own home. So hot naked yoga may be out, but who cares? We’ve got Zumba and HIIT and T’ai chi. (I do only one of those, and only intermittently.) We define ourselves, mirror be damned. We have no control over what others say or think, but if we say we’re old, we’re f&cking old. And then what do we do? Go “ape-shit”? (Remember that expression? No? Then you’re not old. You’re not even middling.)

So here’s my idea for the reunion:

  • Have t-shirts printed with stupid sayings on them, you know the ones — those passive aggressive insults about aging that we started getting on birthday cards once we hit 30. (Mine will say “Mutton Dressed as Ham.”)
  • Wear the shirts. Sweat.
  • Strip off the shirts and burn them in the bonfire that we didn’t get a permit for, making lots of smoke.
  • Get arrested. (For decrepit nudity, but we’ll tell everyone it’s for crimes against air quality.)
  • Woo-hoo!!!
  • Hot naked yoga in the cell.

Barring family calamity, I’m going to the reunion — arm flaps, frizzy hair and all. But no shorts.

How about you? You comin’?

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4 responses

  1. I won’t tell you the significant # of my high school reunion this year, but yes, I’m going. Here’s the big woo-hoo: I think my class has passed the age when anybody cares about all that crap. At last.

    1. Does that day ever really come? About the physical vanity stuff, probably. About the rest? Hope so.

  2. I am never going to a high school reunion ever again. I went to my 10 year one and did nothing but stand around by myself wondering what the heck I was doing there. That’s exactly what I did in high school! But if there’s hot naked yoga, then maybe I’ll go…

    1. Sorry, meant to reply to this before. I went to my 15th year reunion, with the same result you had. The one person I really wanted to see didn’t show — turned out she’d made a big scene at the tenth, and vowed never to go again. And now, after writing this post, I’ve cancelled the trip. Not for fear of boring classmates, just a big chunk of life got in the way. Since reconnecting with classmates on social media, I don’t think I’d ever have a mind-numbing, hair-twiddling reunion, again — but some of the old “mates” might actively snub me. Which would be cool.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

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