Geeks Vs Loneliness: feeling obsolete

A few words on growing older without losing yourself

Hello, and welcome to Geeks Vs Loneliness, our regular spot for discussing the trials and tribulations of being human. This week, I’m thinking about ageing, Batman and dancing like there’s no-one watching.

It’s a truth universally ignored that humans age. That the clock ticks round, the hair thins and the ovaries stop popping.

My generation is sometimes referred to as the squeezed middle. Well, my middle is right now squeezing its way out of my skin in new and unwelcome directions. My ligaments are giving way to gravity. At what stage do I switch from the frilly side of M&S lingerie department to the beige boulder holders that glower across the aisle? Right now I’m hanging onto the silk and satin for dear youth. Even with the physiotherapy referral hanging over my creaking left shoulder like a badly fitting bra.

Then there’s my eyebrows. It’s like Wolverine has moulted on them. And now he’s colonizing my chin. Bristles are appearing in places where the sun does shine and highlights them beautifully for all to see. This is not me.

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Obsolete. Is that how Batman felt when he observed Superman with his primary colours and virile kiss curl in Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice? The whole film is testament to a mid-life crisis in which he wants to knock the younger, fitter, cloak flicking stud down a peg or two. Preferably by hoofing him with those humongous platform goth boots. Nobody wants to be last year’s hero. Even with a Batmobile to play with.

I’m in the Bat Cave on this one. Complete with matching mid-life crisis boots. Too old, too clunky, too stuck in the past for an upgrade to superstar status. So I’ll fade into darkness with my fuzzy chin thanks.

Life these days gets distilled into statement memes: ‘Dance like there’s no one watching!’ Available on all good fridge magnets. I’d just like to dance like it’s 1992 thanks. D:ream lied to that dance floor when they said “things can only get better”. And that’s before the new normal of a three-day hangover after two pints of lager.

The peri-menopausal state has its complications. Like night sweats during a heat wave. I watched Mariella Frostrup’s engaging documentary The Truth About Menopause (available on BBC iPlayer). No one told us what was on the distant horizon in school during those talks involving condom cloaked bananas and puberty. Having spent several nights this summer wishing to tear my own skin off I can understand why.

Mariella does take five minutes to consider Manopause – a dramatic drop in testosterone that happens to a small percentage of men. I’m guessing it’s hard to adjust to the passing of youth for all of us: hair gone rogue, burgeoning health complications and concerns, ageing parents, multiplying children, mushrooming life expenses. Uncertain futures. Age is no respecter of gender.

But you know, I don’t wish to be twenty again. I don’t want the vodka hangovers, the ricochet of emotions, the uncertainty of not knowing who the hell I was. I also had terrible hair. I’ve grown into my skin – scars and bumps, ginger wig and all. I have worries and problems, but I’m a bit more savvy when dealing with them. I look to people like the wonderful Stan Lee who held onto his sense of wonder and curiosity throughout his life, and the joy he found in creation. He blossomed post forty.

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Like Batman I am going to pull on my big boots and go kick up some leaves. Enjoy the world about me for what it is. Appreciate that my creaking carcass is still capable of three hours on the dance floor to hair metal on occasion (even if my stomach muscles today are reminding me that they exist in painful disharmony with the rest of my body). I sang my little heart out without irony to Skid Row’s Youth Gone Wild. At twenty I’d have considered myself too goth for that pleasure.

So if you’re feeling a bit Bat today take a moment to think about what makes you smile. A twinge of nostalgia perhaps, but don’t live for the past. Incorporate it into the future. Reboot yourself. It might need a bit more maintenance these days but there’s life in the old system yet.

Mariella’s programme can be found on BBC iPlayer, here