Swift: 50 brings wisdom, confidence and liberation

Dear 50, Why did you haunt me? Why was I so afraid of your middle-aged Spanx-choked shadow, your threat of 4 p.m. dinners and raincaps tucked into unwieldy beige purses?...

Tammy Swift
Tammy Swift

Dear 50, Why did you haunt me? Why was I so afraid of your middle-aged Spanx-choked shadow, your threat of 4 p.m. dinners and raincaps tucked into unwieldy beige purses?

When I was much, much younger, I thought of you as old. Anyone who was 50 was surely doomed to a future of "Matlock" marathons, bejeweled track suits and intense concern that any gathering of teens had to be a gang. It would become a life of wondering what your young co-workers meant when they talked of Tinashe and trying to explain to them why your Don Knotts reference really was hilarious. It would boil down to using Snapchat to send friends pictures of butternut squash (no euphemism intended), forgetting where you parked and popping glucosamine like candy.

But I apologize. I should not have judged you so harshly. I was so very wrong.

So far, you have turned out to be the best roommate in the world.

People think you're wise. Suddenly, I no longer need to prove myself. At some point, I transitioned from a young and obnoxious knowypants to Gandalf. People will look at my crow's feet and motherly thighs and remember that I've been around for half a century. Younger people will ask me for advice, raising their voices for fear I can't hear them.


Of course, the downside to becoming the resident sage is that people also assume I am completely clueless about technology, and can only operate a pay phone and an abacus.

People think you're decrepit. At this stage in life, I really don't have to malinger. I have developed real problems like osteoarthritis in my lower back - and I can spend a half-hour telling you about it.

However, I am not yet residing in an iron lung. Even so, younger people want to take care of me. If I try to lift anything heavier than a jar, people run in and say, "Let me lift that for you." My godchild runs downstairs to fetch things when I whine about my knees. Young, good-looking men open doors for me - not because they think I'm hot, but because they assume the weight of the door will shatter my brittle wrists.

People assume you can't remember anything. Thanks to age and pre-menopause, I have the memory of a rock. Others have become very tolerant and forgiving of this. If I forget something important - such as a good friend's birthday or whether I am wearing pants - I can always play the age card. This can range from, "I'm sorry I forgot that but I was busy subscribing to AARP insurance," to, "Who are you people and how did you get this number?!"

People think you're invisible. Men no longer view me as a sex object. Some women may be depressed by this, and indeed it is an unfair, untrue and close-minded societal bias that correlates attractiveness solely with youth. I, on the other hand, have found it liberating. I no longer have to compete, because I haven't even been invited to the race. I can go to the grocery store with my hair uncombed. I do not have to stand in photos so I look thin. I can be fully appreciated for my wit, character or brain.

Well, when I'm not forgetting my keys.

So, thank you, 50. You've been pretty cool.

Now go fetch my purse, because my knees hurt.


Readers can reach columnist Tammy Swift at

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