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Wait, am I middle aged?

A friend of mine is working on a marketing campaign to sell toothpaste to women, ages 40 to 60. In a teleconference the other day, a bunch of coworkers chatted about what women in this age group are concerned about. Bad breath? White teeth? "Wait a minute," one 20+ guy said, "aren't middle-aged women like that worried about losing their teeth?"

After suppressing the urge to hunt this young man down with my electric toothbrush, I was deflated. I'm 45. Is that middle aged? Middle aged is, like, old.

At one time, 45 did seem ancient. Forty-five was the elementary school teacher I had with the jiggly arms or one of those brittle Mrs. Robinson types. But haven't times changed? Aren't we all living longer, healthier, low-rise jeans lives?

At what age do you now hit the middle?

The dictionary maintains that middle age is between youth and old age, about 40 to 60. Even more disturbing, some passages go on to describe middle-aged adults as showing visible signs of aging, such as loss of skin elasticity (hence the hanging arm skin), gray hair, waning physical fitness, more body fat, less aerobic performance and a decrease in flexibility and strength.

In other words, you're about to grow weak, sick and then die.

I forget my age all the time. In my mind, I'm still young and my teeth are firmly planted in my gums. So I've come up with a list of reminders. You know you're middle aged when

1. The Publix cashier doesn't bother looking up when she gets the "check ID" message on her register.

2. The last drugs you took were Tylenol and Pepsid.

3. The morning after hangover lasts into the afternoon.

4. The elevator muzak is playing songs from when you were in school.

5. People call at 9 p.m. and ask, "Did I wake you?

6. You stop yourself from screaming, "Hey, you kids, get off my lawn!"

7. The last furry thing you touched were the aging strawberries in the back of your fridge.

8. You're older than your doctor, dentist and OB-GYN.

9. Metal detectors on the beach start to sound like fun.

10. You have a party and the neighbors don't realize it.

How 'bout you? Do you qualify as middle aged?