Two incidents came into view this week that concern our cultural perceptions of aging, behavior, and limitations. Both stories were meant to be humorous examples of old people acting inappropriately. But who decides the definition of “old,” and who decides what is inappropriate?
The first story was in the Minneapolis Star Tribune newspaper under the “News of the Weird” column. An angry gentleman repeatedly rammed his car into another car until the police were called to sort it out. It was a road rage case that normally causes people to say, “What was his problem? What a jerk!” However, in this story, what is supposed to make it funny is that the angry gentleman is in his 80’s, and the people in the car he was ramming were his siblings who are in their upper 70’s and early 80’s.
The second story was told on Jay Leno’s Late Night show. Apparently a 71-year old woman was caught having sex in her car with a 54-year old man. His monologue punch line was this—
Jay Leno: A 71-year-old woman was arrested for having sex in a parked car outside a bar with a 54-year-old man. Police aren’t sure what they’re going to charge her with. They’re still waiting for the dust to settle.
I’ve said this before, and it’s worth repeating—laughter is healing and wonderful. I also believe we shouldn’t take ourselves too seriously at any stage in life. My point in mentioning these stories is that it is too easy to see older people as “different” from main stream society. I’m asking why we feel that way. Why can’t an 80-year old succumb to irrational road rage? Why can’t a 71-year old woman desire sex in a provocative location? Nobody thinks it is strange if younger people have sex in their car, so why the big whoop in this instance? We should be applauding her limber ability instead of scoffing at the urge for sex “at her age.”
My grandmother was pretty shy about showing affection and was prudish in her views on sex. It was how she was brought up. I will always remember a visit I paid to her house when I was in my early 20’s. Grandma was reflecting on how much she missed my grandfather and glanced at me with a mischievous expression. “I don’t think I was very good in bed,” she said. “I watch the soap operas and know I was never like…that. I wonder, now, if your grandfather was happy with me.”
I bet if Grandma had a chance for a do-over she’d be going for more rides in the car with Grandpa. I’m just saying, age has nothing to do with behavior. 🙂