Getting older is kind of weird, and it gets slightly more so every time I go to the doctor. The other day I had an appointment with Dr. Gaete, my primary-care physician, and I asked him the hard questions I’d been dreading having to ask for weeks. “I’m turning 42 in May,” I began, looking for a sign of shock, or disbelief, on his face. “When do I need to have my first colonoscopy, and is it time for me to have a prostate exam?”
Fortunately, Dr. Gaete had the answers I wanted to hear — though he failed to work in anything about how I don’t look a day over 30. He said that unless I’m high-risk, with a history of colon cancer in my family (I’m not), I don’t need to have my first colonoscopy until I’m 50. Ditto, on the prostate screening, if I don’t have any irregular urinating habits like waking up in the middle of the night with a burning desire to go, or worse, with soaking sheets.
I breathed a sigh of relief. In less than five minutes and without a lick of exercise or a dollop of anti-wrinkle cream, I’d managed to drop about 10 years, warding off what I assumed was encroaching old age for another eight. Of course, being the hypochondriac that I’ve always been, I still was not 100 per cent convinced, and continued to imagine a host of other ways that time could catch up with me before May 7 (my birthday).
A day later, it did, though in the mental, not physical, sense. I went to MSN’s home page, saw a photo of the UK’s balding and betrothed Prince William, then checked out a slide show titled “Who’s Turning the Big 5-0 This Year?” and all hell broke loose inside my head. Barack Obama looks great, but I wasn’t as surprised to see him on the list as I was to realize that he’s the first U.S. President who was born in the same decade as me. As for Susan Olsen, sure The Brady Bunch was a billion years ago, but she’ll always be little Cindy Brady to me. How old is Marcia then?
I know that age is just a number, you’re only as old as you feel, yada yada yada, but 50 is still 50. Melissa Etheridge and George Lopez always have read slightly older to me, so no big deal there, but George Clooney? Yes, he’s been rocking salt-and-pepper hair since he became A-list. And yes, he’s clearly out of Zac Efron’s demographic. But he’s the sexiest man alive. How could he be hitting the half-century mark on the day before my birthday?
How could the guy who’s best known for playing TV’s first — and to my knowledge, still the only — suited-up Young Republican student, a time-travelling teen and a teen wolf (Michael J. Fox); Dynasty‘s hottest diva (Heather Locklear); and the first woman I can remember being America’s sweetheart (Meg Ryan) all be heading into their 50s this year? They’ll be forever young in reruns and on celluloid, but I can remember when they were all about Lindsay Lohan’s age in real life, too!
Boy George may not be quite the man he was when Culture Club ruled the charts (there’s a lot more of him to love). Julia Louis-Dreyfus has been making me laugh for what seems like ages. So has Eddie Murphy, who, truth be told, hasn’t gotten so much as a chuckle out of me since the ’90s. But when did time catch up with them? And don’t get me started on k.d. lang, Enya, Virginia Madsen and Andrea Zuckerman (the latter’s Beverly Hills 90210 portrayer, Gabrielle Carteris, already crossed over to the other side on January 2), all of whom MSN left off its list.
The good news? If 50 really is the new 40 — and I’m praying that whoever came up with that one will keep turning back time one decade at a time until I’m 80 — then I’m still as young as I hope I look, and I can put off that colonoscopy for another 18 years or so.
But I’ll probably have one before the year’s out. You know, just to be on the safe side.