In less than half a year now, I’ll be entering my sixth decade, and I have figured out what I want for a birthday gift. (Aside from world peach. I would always like world peace for a present, but it seems safe to assume that’s not happening this year.) I want people to never refer to me as “50 years young” – or 60, 70, 80, whatever it is at the time. I hope to continue feeling younger than our conception of fifty is (or 60, 70, 80 – just assume for the sake of brevity that I’m including all the future ages I hope to achieve) because I’m already feeling enough of the chill breeze of middle age to understand that the storms of old age are not for the fainthearted. On the other hand, I’ve earned my experience, every bit of it. Even just on a physical basis, I can do things right now that I couldn’t do at 20; I erged 30 km over this past weekend, I hardly ever get sick any more, and if the 5-gallon bottle on the water cooler needs replacing I can do it. I’m 49 and 7/12 years old, dammit, and I have no wish to diminish that or to subscribe to the assumption that only youth has value.

While I’m ranting, don’t include me in a group you refer to as “the lovely ladies”. I’m as susceptible to a (respectful) comment on my achievements, skills or even looks as the next person, but only if you’re really complimenting me for some quality that really exists. (Complimenting a group is fine too – when you know who’s in the group and are speaking of a shared achievement or specific quality common to the group.) When you just slap on the adjectives on the theory that all women love compliments no matter how empty, and that compliments on our looks trump any others, I just feel I’ve been slimed.