Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - Sept. 18, 2003

It's all downhill from here - or is it?

Last week I went to the dentist to have three cavities filled. Then I stopped by the eye doctor to have stronger lenses put in my glasses. Monday the dentist put in another filling, so I'm hoping that will be it for awhile.

I wonder if the "repairs" had something to do with turning 50.

Before she left last summer, my sister gave me a notepad with the cranky Maxine cartoon character saying, "Age doesn't make us forgetful. Having way too many stupid things to remember makes us forgetful." I have been forgetting a lot lately. Maybe all those jokes about people falling apart and forgetting everything once they reach the half century mark are true.

And if those reminders that I've reached some sort of milestone aren't enough, there are plenty more. The American Association for Retired People recruitment mailings I've been getting drive the point home. The letters from the Social Security folks advising me how much my income will be when I retire don't let me forget either. I also notice newspaper ads for Senior Citizen Appreciation Days - the ones that offer a discount if you are 50 or older.

Those "cute" sayings on birthday cards are no help either.

"Old as dirt."
"Old fart."
"50 isn't old ... if you're a tree."
"It's all downhill from here."

Oh, there are a few uplifting ones such as "Fifty is nifty," but they are in the minority.

I'm beginning to feel like Kathy Bates' character in the movie, "Fried Green Tomatoes" - "too young to be old and too old to be young."

In the same movie, Jessica Tandy's character tried to help. "You just need some hormones, honey," she said.

Maybe along with the visits to the dentist and eye doctor, I should have scheduled one with our physician too - perhaps I need some hormones!

Recently the girls and I went to the movie "Freaky Friday" in which the mother and teenage daughter find themselves in each other's bodies and forced to live each other's lives for 24 hours. I could relate to Jamie Lee Curtis's character when her teenage daughter first catches a glimpse of herself inside her mother's body. Horrified, she cries, "Ew, I look like the crypt keeper!"

When I look in the mirror, I sometimes wonder where all those crinkles came from. OK, OK, they're wrinkles, but crinkles sounds better.

The Census Bureau says a Baby Boomer turns 50 every eight seconds. If that's the case, I had a lot of company as 10,800 of us reached that age on Saturday.

On the flip side, there are a lot of great things about reaching this milestone. I'll never again have to worry about taking school tests or wondering how I did on them. Now I'm the one writing them and I only have to worry about finding the time to grade them. I no longer wonder if someone will invite me to the prom, presuming I even cared if there was a prom. And going to bed early? Once it was punishment, but now it's a treat!

Art's 93-year-old Mom helped me put my age in perspective. When I mentioned turning 50, she exclaimed, "You're just a kid!"

A few of those 10, 799 other people who turned 50 Saturday may have received special homemade gifts as I did. Art and Mariya put together a video of my life, and Katie created a small clay slab with 50 etched on it with colored pencils. But I'll wager none had a "cake" like mine. Art came up with the idea of making one from things I really like. It had 138 Oreo cookies stacked six-high to form the numerals 5 and 0 and 55 Hostess Twinkies standing upright around the edges and between the numbers to form a border.

That was a nifty 50!

Art made my special 50th birthday cake with Oreos and Twinkies.

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