In cricket it’s simple – it’s a milestone to be celebrated. You get 50. You hold your bat up. You smile, shake your fellow batsman’s hand and look to go on. It’s a celebration. You’ve no doubt worked pretty hard to get there, and may have got a bit lucky on the way.
You don’t know me if you don’t know how much I love that game. I don’t even know why. No one in my family did. Ok, maybe that’s why. I was shit at it though, after having played softball all my life. I tried to change to cricket in my 20s but it was too late. I was a dirty slogger and the only use I was to the team was that I could throw the ball and occasionally catch it.
My high score was 27. I remember it because I got my name in the paper.
I was never going to get 50. The sniggers from the opposition – and occasionally my own team – told me that.
But reaching 50 years old, I do that on June 5, 1964. But I’m not so sure what to do when this landmark arrives. Do I hold my bat up? Smile at my family and friends in the crowd or what? Does this number mean I have to act my age? Do I bat sensibly now or do I hit out?
How do you act 50? Should I start thinking about 100 now? Or concede that I’m more likely to edge one to the grim reaper when I’m on 83.
Does it mean that overnight I am going to stop laughing at jokes more suited to a teenage boy’s humour, stop wearing my son’s old Chucks and start draping my mature form in mature clothes such as sensible woollen coats and scarves?
Do I stop dying my hair? Do I stop giggling like a maniac when I’m overtired?
Do I have to stop breaking into spontaneous dance in the lounge to modern catchy music? Am I too old for Spotify? Should I begin trawling old record stores for Glenn Miller LPs? Do I stop tweeting and pretending to be younger than I am at work and online? Well not so much pretending, as not admitting my age.
So many questions.
This is my problem. I don’t actually know how to be. I don’t know what 50 means in real life so I don’t know if I’m going to like it.
As the day approaches I keep seeing articles in my newsfeed on Facebook, and on various lifestyle sites. “You can have the best sex of your life at 50.” “Why 50 is the new 30.” “Stop caring what people think when you’re 50.” “Life begins at 50.” Good god, one even suggested I do my first boudoir shoot. They hit me like a beamer to the helmet, shocking me into the realisation that the day is here. The day when I likely become invisible to some, unemployable to others. Uncertain of myself.
Will I cope with the fact that people will stop saying to me “oh you’ve got good skin”.
What’s left? My eyes? Well they don’t even work properly any more and my life is spent running from one room of the house to another looking for one of several pairs of glasses I reluctantly succumbed to, often to find they are on my head.
My hair. It’s still hanging. But if I let it go grey, should I then cut it?
My body? Sure as hell that ship sailed about 18 years ago.
It’s little things that make me worry. Like the fact I feel I have to prove to people … ok employers … that I understand technology. (Well apart from the DVD, that’s just out and out madness – no wonder it died. Didn’t it?) Twentysomethings assume I don’t get any of it and if they found out I was 50 it’s likely they’d start talking to me differently. Already I’m uncool for knowing how to spell and punctuate and having the temerity to use grammar correctly.
And here’s a really important one. Do I stop saying fuck? I know it’s bad but I spent years in a TVNZ newsroom and I’m damaged goods. On the other hand, it sort of feels as though it’s wrong and a bit undignified when you’re 50 to scatter it through your sentences. (Fuck it.)
Someone posted a pertinent note on Facebook the other day. I reposted it so no doubt you’ve seen it as I am sure you all hang off my every word there.
It said …
And I thought, goddammit I’m going to get my thighs out.
OK, I probably won’t. But as I turn 50, I will be doing a few things. Like saying thank you. Thanks to mum Estelle Davis for getting me through the early years alive. I thank my sisters Adi and Gail for putting up with me being the oldest and all that entails – such as me opening their Christmas presents before they did on Christmas day. My husband Keith for putting up with me. Actually, that tolerance is a bit mutual but after 20 years of marriage there’s bound to be a few bumps on the way … somehow we always end up with a laugh at the end of it. Thanks to our son Nic for … for just being Nic and providing a few laughs – super talented, super lazy, and hopefully one day super successful. (He’s 18 ok, they’re hard to like at that age…)
So what am I going to do?
I’m holding my fucken bat up and pushing on.
Because I know plenty of people who don’t have the chance to.