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Tips For Adulthood: Five Tangible Signs That You're Middle Aged

“Middle age is when your age starts to show around your middle.” –Bob Hope Every Wednesday I offer tips for adulthood. Yesterday, I...

“Middle age is when your age starts to show around your middle.”

–Bob Hope

Every Wednesday I offer tips for adulthood.

Yesterday, I talked about middle age as a set of attitudes. Today I’d like to complement that idea with five concrete signs that you’re middle aged:

1.You start re-reading classics. I’m a big believer in the value of re-reading. But while in Waterstone’s the other day (UK equivalent of Borders), I saw a bookmark entitled “50 Books To Read Before You Die.” And suddenly I had this panic attack that I hadn’t read every single book on the list.  As it happened, I was already re-reading Wuthering Heights for my book group. But as soon as I saw that bookmark, I ran back to embrace Heathcliff with reckless abandon!

2.You leave Parties Before Midnight. I remember once taking this personality test which asked “Do you leave parties before or after midnight?” I dismissed the question entirely because at that point in my life, I didn’t show up to parties until after midnight. Boy, how times have changed. And it’s not just that I now have to pay a sitter when I go out. I actually find myself craving the solitude of…well, Heathcliff.

3. You decline alcohol because you need to exercise the next day. OK, in truth I don’t do this all that much. But I do restrain myself far more than I once did. For heaven’s sake, I used to smoke a cigarette *after* returning from a run. Or go running…to escape a hangover. Now my aging body does the mental calculation of how that morning run will feel after just one glass of wine and I find myself re-considering it.

4. You Start Renting BBC Mini-Series. It’s one of those sad truths of parenting that once you have kids, you never go out to movies anymore. My husband and I thought we’d be different than everyone else on this score but, of course, we’re not. Sure, we go to see a few of the big hits every year. I’m too much of an Oscar fan to skip those. But most of the time we rent movies about six months behind their release date. Lately, however, we have found ourselves renting assorted BBC mini-series that ran – gasp – in like the 80’s. Worse, we find them bizarrely addictive. Don’t believe me? Check out House of Cards. Tell me if you’re not hooked after Episode One.

5. You buy that Joni Mitchell album. You know that one – Both Sides Now – where she goes back and sings…Both Sides Now, except that her tone’s a little more plaintive, a little more somber, a little more…middle-aged. Worse, you buy it because you saw it featured in Love, Actually in that scene with Emma Thompson crying in the bedroom. And it’s haunted you ever since. Admit it. It has.


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Image: Joni Mitchell self-portrait by Jenny J via Flickr under a Creative Commons License.

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  1. LPC October 14, 2009 at 5:27 pm #

    Well, at least I told my kids to listen to “Blue.”

  2. bechtoldlifeworks October 15, 2009 at 7:14 am #

    BBC mini series – absolutely. My husband and I spent months watching “Upstairs, Downstairs” (from the 70’s no less), and were enthralled by every episode.

  3. daryl boylan October 15, 2009 at 9:55 pm #

    All of the above — in addition to which, let me assure you it only gets worse “as time goes by”.

  4. Lizzie Skurnick October 16, 2009 at 4:00 pm #

    What about, Have no friends any longer with whom you wouldn’t happily spend 24 hours, and/or, are invited by a group of French students to come with them to a club and actually laugh.

  5. Sarah October 16, 2009 at 5:08 pm #

    I’m in trouble!! I’ve been doing #1–4 for years (although #2 has become much worse since having kids).

    I guess I am still okay since I’ve resisted #5.

    • delialloyd October 16, 2009 at 5:43 pm #

      oh sarah, 5 awaits you-trust me. Have you *seen* Love Actually? Say no more….(thx for visiting!)

  6. annie June 17, 2010 at 6:44 am #

    At middle age I suddenly started staring out the kitchen window for long periods watching birds in the garden. My other half and I now have long conversations on subjects such as “…are the flycatchers late this year…”. Seems like many people our age get similarly afflicted!

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