In our callow youth, whenever we overheard “old people” conversing, we thought it was so telling: old folks seemed to have nothing worth discussing but for the current condition of their body parts. Arthritis, hammertoes, hernias, who is the best chiropodist in town, bowels, etc.

We had no idea that if you have been friends with the same group of people for more than forty years, all the other topics of conversation have been long exhausted. There are no new jokes. Gossip about divorces and affairs is not possible, because the affairs have all been consummated and the divorces litigated. There is the news, but good grief, these days the news is so fraught we are afraid if we discuss it, someone will have a heart attack.

So it’s back to the state of our skeletal systems, our digestive missteps, the results of various medical tests, and who has the biggest bunions. It is a topic we can all relate to–sort of like in the old days, when we could discuss our tennis scores or how many sit ups we did in the mornings.

My knee hurts. It seems to rebel especially when I go downstairs. “That’s nothing!” A friend replies. “I think I have Lyme Disease. All my joints ache.”

“But I may have a tear in my meniscus,” I reply. (I think this is great, because it sounds like the kind of injury an athlete might have). Another friend chimes in with “My chiropractor says that he has never seen such a twisted spine.” I have no riposte for that.

“I am going to try hot yoga,” says another friend, who hasn’t yet qualified for medicare. “I think all that heat will be great for my sciatica, and it opens the pores.” Before I can figure out how pores and sciatica might be related, she adds, “My acupuncturist highly recommends it.” Again, perhaps I have not recognized the health significance of opened pores.

When you pass a certain age, your list of experts changes. In my thirties, I had

  • A shrink
  • A nanny
  • An aerobics instructor
  • A Weight Watchers group leader
  • Elmo and Big Bird
  • Dr. Spock
  • Chef Boyardee
  • Martha Stewart

Now that I am facing my own mortality and considering getting a recliner, I have

  • Dr. Oz
  • A chiropractor and massseuse on speed dial
  • Ina Garten
  • AARP
  • WebMD
  • A colorist (only my hairdresser knows for sure)
  • Anderson Cooper

I no longer scoff at people in restaurants chatting about open heart surgery, Preparation H, what’s new in heating pads, or those beds that go up and down. I love hearing about the latest pill for insomnia. Our friends get pretty hyped up when it comes to discussions of which foods lower blood pressure (watermelon, praise God, is on the list), because we are all here, we are all disintegrating, but we are fighting the good fight.

And honest to God, there DOES come an age when absolutely nobody goes on diets any more.


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