Fresh Ideas: If age ain’t nothing but a number, I’ll take 36, please
For the Nevada Appeal
I just passed a big birthday, which one I won’t say. You probably shouldn’t believe me anyway. I come from a family of liars.
One branch on my family tree simply can’t be trusted. Not the Proddy Irish immigrants, nor the Germans. It’s the Swedish branch. The salt-of-the-earth farmers from Blue Earth County, Minnesota. That branch.
Or perhaps they’re merely guilty of extreme vanity. You see, for years (and years) my two great-aunts, Sis and Doris, lied about their ages, making themselves younger by as much as five or 10 years. But they kept their figures and touched up their hair. Maybe no one would notice.
As she aged, Aunt Sis definitely had the kind of beauty that benefitted from soft-focus and dim lights. And distance. But still, she was something. For decades she put on a fresh coat of makeup every night before going to bed, swearing, “If I died in my sleep, no one would recognize me!”
Aunt Sis even bragged that once, while working in her front yard in a sundress at the sprightly age of 65, some teenage boys drove past. Seeing her trim figure and her platinum blonde curls from behind, they whistled and honked the horn. You can imagine their shock when she turned around. But like I said, you shouldn’t trust her. She might have been 75.
Sadly, this was not a victimless crime. Just ask their brother – my grandfather – Walter. He started out as the baby of the family, but as years went by, somehow he overtook his sisters and became their older brother. The girls certainly couldn’t have a bald baby brother. I mean really. How would that look?
It wasn’t until Sis and Doris died that the family discovered just how far they had taken their little ruse. Each of their multiple life insurance policies and bank accounts attested to a different birthday. Real smart, girls. Real smart.
Although my Uncle Gene married into the family, by middle age he too had succumbed to the culture of deceit. At 55 he told people he was 65, thus always insuring himself a “Wow, you look great!” Pretty smart. For a liar.
So is it nature or nurture that is to blame when I recently discovered that my own baby brother had somehow passed me by? He does have more gray hair than I do. And three times as many grandchildren. It only makes sense that he’s older. Right? I always wanted an older brother. Little ones are such pests.
Besides, just last week my Wii Fit told me I was only 36. Close enough, in my book.
• Lorie Smith Schaefer is a retired teacher.