Seriously, How Old Are You?


Some people claim there is a scientific way to establish how old you “really” are.  To provide this service they ask you questions about how often you have sex, drink alcoholic beverages, ride a bicycle or go for a walk.  They’re also likely to inquire about your relatives, how frequently you read and whether you still eat red meat.  From all of this they claim to determine whether you are actually younger or older than your birth date indicates.  Unfortunately they don’t look at the most reliable factors, like how loudly you groan when getting out of the recliner or how many reruns of The Andy Griffith Show you know by heart or whether you believe a rocking chair to be exercise equipment.         

But the real honest to goodness truth is you can pretty much tell what age group you’re in by the television commercials you watch.  When is the last time you saw an ad for Chuck E’ Cheese?  Trust me when I say that if you see Betty White or James Garner hawking a product you are not watching Music Television (MTV).  Advertising is not what it used to be.  They don’t just put up ads and hope the right folks see them.  They know whose watching what.  That’s a little scary isn’t it? 

In doing research for this article (don’t laugh) I switched to a program called “Jackass.”  If you haven’t heard about this program, let me briefly explain it is about people doing incredibly stupid things.  Things like trying to jump over a car traveling 30 miles per hour and headed right toward you.  In your wildest teenage stupid period you wouldn’t have been able to dream up these stunts.  I’m betting Robert Wagner is not extolling the virtues of a reverse mortgage on this show.

What did surprise me, however, was an advertisement by a major insurance company which we’ll call All City.  Why would an insurance company advertise on a program where gross stupidity is celebrated?  Not only would I not want my insurance company insuring the show’s participants, I wouldn’t even want them insuring anybody who watches.  Sure we’ve all done stupid things, but we mostly thought they seemed like a good idea at the time.     

If you see two or more advertisements for Viagra and related products during any one television episode, the show you are watching has been designated for the more mature audience.  Speaking of Viagra, do you think it ironic they now come in soft tablets?  Have you ever noticed how happy the actors pushing dentures always seem to be?  I don’t know about you, but the idea of keeping my teeth in a glass overnight doesn’t make me smile.  Oops, that’s not a mental picture I wanted.  

Speaking of happy, I also can’t help but comment on the fact that all those women wearing Depends seem pretty darn pleased with themselves.  Again, not something to wish for, but better safe than sorry I suppose.  Whatever you are watching when you see these ads, it’s clear the advertisers are not assuming you will be returning to college for another year. 

Lately I seem to catch the aforementioned Robert Wagner bragging on the merits of a “Reverse Mortgage” with great frequency.  Just another way to spend the kids’ inheritance I guess.  An old southern comedian (Brother Dave Garner) said they ought to have insurance that pays you now, and your kids have to pay it back.  He thought maybe you would have a very quiet funeral.

So switch off the news or oldies and see what the younger folks are watching and note when diapers are advertised there’s generally a child crawling around.  The best advice about aging that I’ve ever seen goes something like, “Do as much as you can as long as you can.”  So get out there and do something.

Originally published in Modern Senior Living

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