Tuesday, February 18, 2014

What's Wrong with Being Old?

In seventh grade I had to do a report on Utah's Washington County. It looks like this:

The rest of Utah looks like this:

Naturally, people go there to retire. It's our mini-Florida. In my report I wrote, "Lots of old people live in Washington County because of the warm climate." I printed out all three pages and showed it to my mom. She told me to change "old" to "elderly" and print it all over again. It wasn't polite. I did, but I couldn't see the point. Don't old and elderly mean the same thing?
Recently, I've been pondering the difference between "teenager" and other terms, like youth and young person. I prefer youth, partly because teenager is a relatively new term and most languages don't have an exact translation. But I've talked about this before. Also, teenager is easier to sneer since it has those nuh, guh, and err sounds that are so much fun to draw out.
I don't get offended when people call me a teenager and, as you can see, I use the word in my blog's name. So why should old be offensive?
Age is like having boxes of stuff. When you only have a small amount, you hoard them, and each year is precious. Heaven help the man who calls a six and a half year old merely six. But when you have forty, they just pile up and consume space. You start to feel ashamed. You wonder why you ever bothered counting in the first place. You're no longer proud of what you got, and strangely enough, you're jealous of people who have fewer boxes than you.
It's ridiculous. Why is getting your sixteenth box something to brag about, but your sixty first is something to hide? Birthdays don't mean anything unless you let them. Congratulations, the planets are in the same alignment as they were when you were born. Old is old, young is young, and there's no reason to be ashamed of what your age.

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