When I’m Sixty-Four by
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Doing yoga in Mexico at age 63

Paul McCartney famously wrote the lines “Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m sixty-four” when he was 16 years old, although he didn’t put it on an album until Sgt. Pepper nine years later. It was released in the summer of 1967, when I was turning 16, the same age he was when he wrote it. Sixty-four seemed like an impossibly old age to me, as it undoubtedly had to Paul when he penned those lyrics. It was fun to sing along to it, but it had no meaning to me. I couldn’t have conceived of ever being that age.

On my last birthday I turned 65 and received my Medicare card, and I can’t imagine how that happened. I still feel like a kid. I have dreams where I am back in college, and I am the me that I am now, and none of the other students notices that I am not the same age as they are. I still like going to Disneyland, and I play Pokemón Go. I am pretty good at yoga, and I took up tap dancing last year. I love to travel, and I try not to complain about how much less legroom there is on airplanes now or how annoying all the security in the airports is.

But I have to confess, I do notice some of the effects of aging. If I sleep on an air mattress or in a lumpy bed, my back hurts in the morning. I like having my own bathroom in hotels, instead of the communal one down the hall. And when I fell on some uneven steps in the park near my house, it turned out that I broke my ankle. That was two months ago and I am still feeling some pain from it. That never would have happened when I was younger. Also, I have apparently shrunk. I used to be 5’8″ tall, and now I am only 5’6½. What happened to that inch-and-a-half? Now I am the shortest one in my family, my son and even my daughters tower over me.

When my hair stylist was touching up my roots recently, I told her I was thinking of just letting my hair go gray. “Oh no, you can’t do that, you’re much too young,” she said. She sounded like she really meant it, and that was very gratifying.

I have noticed at the last few college reunions that it seems like the women in the class are aging better than the men, for the most part. Maybe that’s because the only women who go to the reunions are the ones who feel good about their appearance, whereas the men aren’t concerned about their looks. I am basically happy with the way I look now, although I am thinking about having my eyes done. Maybe I’ll wait until I turn seventy. Stay tuned.

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Characterizations: right on!, well written

Comments

  1. Thanks for opening with your great recall of that hokey harbinger of age, sung for the millennia by Ringo. I recall doing exactly the same arithmetic. Sixty-four? Unable to picture myself at that age. Oh, and don’t touch a thing. Or maybe that’s just Hollywood calling…

    • Suzy says:

      Love your phrase “hokey harbinger of age,” although I do like the song, with its music-hall sound and the clarinet quartet. Have to correct your memory – it was sung by Paul, not Ringo.

  2. Betsy Pfau says:

    Love that you dream about being back in college, but the “current” you and no one notices – brave psyche! And having your eyes done. My husband won’t allow plastic surgery, or I’d think about it too. I was singing the Beatles tune to my friends and classmates all last year. Now they are all getting their Medicare cards; me in December, assuming we still have a government by then. My hip was finally feeling better after all the walking in Venice, then last Saturday, as I was getting on the private water taxi to the airport, a wheel from my bag didn’t make it on the ramp to the dock, pulled the bag over, me with it, I did a graceful fall (according to eye-witnesses), but my hip is again hurting. Hopefully nothing too serious. Growing older is not fun. By the end of the very busy week with less and less sleep in Venice, I could really see it around my eyes! And I should really dye my hair more often, but it costs too much. I hear ya, sister!

  3. John Zussman says:

    Your story captures that strange experience that many of us have, when we still feel young inside but the physical evidence that we’re not starts to mount up. I used to run the trails in the hills behind our house; now I’m content just to hike them. I started yoga in my 50s and find it a gentler alternative to the more active, bone-jolting sports of my younger years.

    Every time I read your title, it sets off an earworm in my head. I am currently trying to chase it out with Saint-Saens, but it’s a persistent little bugger!

  4. John Shutkin says:

    As usual, a terrific story — and, as noted, a very “ear worm-y” title. Of course, the dream of being back in college is one that we all share — along with the one about having to take a test one hasn’t studied for and the one about finding oneself naked on the fifty yard line of a packed stadium (pretty much the same dream of vulnerability, really). Interesting that you dream about being your current age when back in college; I think in mine I remain “age appropriate” for college, right down to the sideburns.

    Your observation about the women in the class being more put together than the men was quite astute and certainly applied to my 45th last October, and I think you have nailed the exact reason for it: a self-selectivity of the women who attended. Put another way, I have yet to hear any of my male buddies say that they were considering not attending because of their currently less than Adonis-like appearances. Present company included.

  5. Glad I just caught this story of yours in the missed feature!

    I feel like you Suzy, wondering how I can have gotten to be (gulp) 77 when I still feel like me!

    And some mornings – even in my own bed – I wake with a back ache, have lost a few inches (and gained more than a few pounds), take a heckuva lot of doc-prescribed pills every day, and boy do I need my eyes done, where did those bags come from?

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