2019: The Year I Officially Got Old
I was loitering in a Walgreens drug store pretending to look at magazines but in reality I was really waiting for a tall man in a raincoat to step away from the rack of pill organizers I had my eye on. Finally, after what seemed like hours, he left and I quickly took his position in front of the display rack. I prayed nobody I knew would happen by and catch me in such a compromising position.
Never in my life would I have imagined there were so many options for pill containers, or that I would need one. I gazed upon rows and rows of containers designed to hold a single day, 7-day, or even a 31-day supply of pills. They came in rectangular, square, and round shapes. Many had AM/PM compartments. The smallest were pocket-sized and the largest looked to be the size of my laptop computer. One even looked like an egg carton.
Truth told, I have a lovely antique silver pillbox. It’s shaped like a book, but unfortunately it won’t work for my needs because I must take numerous pills at different times of the day for a variety of ridiculous ailments. Hence my surreptitious visit to the Walgreens.
After 10 minutes of hand wringing, I ended up selecting a plastic purple-and-green colored, seven-day luxury model with morning and evening compartments. It was the least ostentatious of the bunch but nowhere near as classy as my small silver book. I hid it behind a bag of Doritos and used a self-service checkout machine. Thankfully, I slipped unnoticed out of the drugstore. The date was August 28, 2019. The time was 12:30 p.m. I remember it so vividly not because I still have the receipt, but because it was the moment I officially got old.
Between you and me, I’ve never really cared about growing old. This past year, though, aging reared its head in a variety of humiliating ways to remind me I’m on the steep downward slope of life. Permit me to share a few examples.
One morning I boarded the Metro, minding my own business and listening to music. When I looked around to check my travel progress, I realized—much to my chagrin—I was the only person whose earphones were still tethered to his iPhone. Everyone else on the train car was under 30 years of age and sporting ear buds. I was mortified, as I might have been if I were wearing a fanny pack….
Another morning, at Starbucks, a very handsome young man made a grand gesture of holding the door for me and calling me sir as I entered. I swear he winked as I walked past. When I next saw him, he was holding hands with his girlfriend. The little bastard was just being polite….
I was having my teeth cleaned one day when the dental technician suggested I consider getting braces to straighten my teeth. Old people, she explained, tend to have crowded teeth, which makes it difficult to floss and leads to gum disease. Good lord, I thought, how bad were they? Shortly thereafter, I sprung for Invisalign® braces. Now I understand exactly how senior citizens fall victim to roofing and window replacement scams.…
Finally, there was the Buttigieg for President fundraiser I attended where one of the candidate’s staffers proclaimed how great it was to see so many older Democrats come out for Pete. Multigenerational support! I looked around, expecting to see an army of aged Dems stamping their walkers and waving their canes. All I saw was my reflection in a mirror.…
Yes, 2019 was a rough year and I’m sure glad it’s over. I’m not sure my ego could take much more. But at least my pills are organized and my teeth are straight. What more can an old man ask for? ▼
Rich Barnett is the author of The Discreet Charms of a Bourgeois Beach Town, and Fun with Dick and James.