A Door Unopened

A Door Unopened
Knock, knock...

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Hello? Fifty's Here

Today I am 50. Five decades. Half a century. Two score and ten. No matter what you call it or how you slice it, 50 is, well...let’s say it’s substantial. It's got some heft. It packs a punch and cannot be sidestepped. It means business. Fifty knocks on your door bold and brash as life itself, because that’s of course what it is, and you have no choice to but to answer it.

I propose that turning 50 is like a knock, knock joke.

“Knock, knock.”
“Who’s there?”
Your head rushes as your heart gives a funky double beat. Holy shit! Fifty?! How did this happen? you wonder. You try to gather yourself and hesitate before responding with your gut reaction.
“The person you’re looking for is not here.”
“Oh, please! Don’t be coy. YOU are the person I’m meeting today.”
“Uh…Could you come back some other time? I’m really not ready for you today.”
“Sorry, ma'am. Today is the day, YOUR day, the day you turn officially middle-aged.”
“I, uh…could you just give me a little time to spruce up and get myself together? How about tomorrow? I could meet you tomorrow.”
“Today is YOUR day. Don’t worry. I know what you look like and how together you are and are not. Just open up. I promise not to hurt you.”

You gasp. Is it possible you heard a garbled “much” at the end of that last sentence? You fear this is the case. You calm yourself by taking deep breaths and consider logically what to do. After some reflection, and seeing no escape, as much as you really don’t want to, you determine that you will meet Fifty on your own terms. You decide if you have to do this—and apparently, you do—you will do it graciously. You have your shoulders back and head held high when you open the door and look Fifty straight in the eye.

The big Five-Oh looks decidedly older than the less significant Four-Oh and somewhat more fragile and out of shape. Five-Times-Ten doesn’t seem to be bothered by the thickening of her waist or embarrassed by the dark splotches that have begun to show on her face, although you find these changes rather disconcerting. It's been a while since Ms. Fifty has been to the hair dresser. You can tell because the gray and mousy brown is showing in her part and at her exposed temple. You notice Ms. Half-Century has brought you a copy of AARP magazine, the publication which will from now on grace your mail box every month; it’s there in her jacket pocket. And by the way, that jacket—oof! Fifty needs to get a better stylist because plaid corduroy wasn’t a good look even fifty years ago. You think you might do her a favor by mentioning this and suggesting a nice medium weight charcoal gray wool blazer instead, but you’re distracted from saying anything because you’re not sure but you think you can hear Fifty’s joints creaking just a teeny bit as she shifts from foot to foot. Her sensible shoes—Naturalizers—make you blink, trying to clear the vision. At best, the footwear can only be described as beige, frumpy and cankle-inducing. There is a definite whiff of cantankerousness emanating from the enlarged pores of her slightly sagging skin and you wonder if she’s noticed the faint budding of jowls on either side of her once charmingly dimpled chin. The chin cleft doesn’t reach the alluring depths it used to because it's been filled in with a substantial layer of subcutaneous fat. Whatever sex appeal Fifty may have possessed hit the skids at least a year or more ago. You hold back a shudder, not wanting to hurt her feelings.

She looks at you triumphantly with a certain tinge of smugness thrown in that you suppose is meant to keep you humble. You shake off your dread, tell yourself  that despite any appearances to the contrary, you are an adult and will act accordingly. With a deep breath of resolve you try to make the best of the situation by smiling, extending your hand and saying,
 “Thank you. Thanks so much for coming, Fifty. You’ve brought a lot of changes with you. I want you to know I appreciate the wisdom you’ve shown me in the last decade. You've offered me a deeper perspective and broader understanding of life and how it works. I have more tolerance, am less judgemental and am trying to keep an open, questing mind. There is still so much I need to learn. I want you to know I am truly grateful for your time.”

Instead of shaking your optimistically offered hand, Madam Fifty deposits the wretched AARP magazine into your proffered palm and says,
“You’re supposed to say, ‘Fifty who?’”
“What?!” You’re confused. Here you are trying to be a good sport about all this and Two-Times-Twenty-five is ignoring your good intentions. What in the hell is she talking about?
“You’re supposed to ask me ‘Fifty who?’ That’s how the joke goes. Remember? Knock, knock?”
“Oh. Right.” You want to show Fifty that despite her disenchanting presence you are still in possession of your well developed sense of humor. You play along. “OK. Fifty who?”
“Fifty, your new decade. Geeze, woman! Pay attention. Have you gone senile already?”

You muster a wan smile, shake your head and roll your eyes. Along with being a supremely snappy dresser, Fifty is clearly one bitch of a laugh riot.

My birthday was a lovely evening of family, friends, paella, German chocolate cake and a flow of wine that's fine and sanguine.

Thanks to Mr. Grumpy for a near decade of fun and happiness. I guess when the wife turns 50 it necessitates more drinking .


  1. yer looking great at 50 honey. not a day over 39....

  2. Yes! You are looking great.....I was amazed to hear it was your fiftieth!

  3. Happy 50th! I am not too far behind...like next month! You look fabulous and your son is adorable. "Mr. Grumpy" looks anything but grumpy. He looks radiant and elated. Maybe birthdays/fine wine have that effect on him!..or maybe it is just YOU having that effect on him! :)

  4. Happy Birthday, Lyn!

    You'll find, dear, that your 50's are actually some of the best years of your life. Less worry. Less concern about what others think. Less bullshit. Enjoy them. Like fine wine, you truly come into your own. And far sexier and self-assured than ever! Enjoy.


  5. Happy Birthday, Lyn!

    Again you made me laff after a long cold day on the East coast. S'tha's wot I git ter luk fowad ta Eh Lassie?...and it's coming fast, but I still feel like I'm 18!..that is the Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban talking..so it turns out Tim has the right idea!

  6. Happy Birthday, my dear!!

    Can anyone at 50 be any hotter than you? What is your secret? You don't look a day past the day I met you (OMG, what is that, 15 years ago?). Come'on, what EXACTLY is in that bottle?

  7. I loved it! You hardly look 40 let alone 50, Lyn.



  8. Happy Birthday again! I agree with the others, you don't look your age, enjoy your birthday week!


  9. Yes, as others have said, you look much younger (I might have guessed 39.) I hit 50 a year and a half ago. Don't worry, saying "I"m 50" may seem harsh, but saying "I'm in my 50s" is even worse. OR ... we could go with davidspyle's sentiment. That seems like a healthier frame of mind.

  10. The best thing to do when you turn 50 is hang out with people who are worried about turning 60. You are a chld to them.

  11. Lyn- You look gorgeuos my dear! Wish we couldv'e celebrated together! I had a small dinner party too and don't feel that much older! Happy 50th!

    Laurie L.

  12. "She looks at you triumphantly with a certain tinge of smugness thrown in that you suppose is meant to keep you humble. You shake off your dread, tell yourself that despite any appearances to the contrary, you are an adult and will act accordingly. With a deep breath of resolve you try to make the best of the situation by smiling, extending your hand and saying,
    “Thank you."


    I adored the transition you made between the dreaded fifty (in whom we all here about) and yourself. You provide a visual alternative in embracing the half century arrival by embracing it's virtue and thanking it as if it were it's own entity -declaring you've not experienced finality of life by no means - that you are in an infancy moment, beginning the new half century. Exploring and seeing things that many have or will one day appreciate.

    Indeed, a most enjoyable read.