Lessons of turning 50

By Kirstin Buick
10 September 2013

It’s an f-word for sure – you’ve now earned the right let rip with it occasionally

I RECENTLY celebrated (or endured) my f-word birthday, heralding the start of the decade that comes after the first decade that starts with an F, if you get what I mean. The way things are going, the first s-word decade will be here before I can say aaarrrggghhh and then it’s just a creak and a hobble until the second s-word decade. Before you know it I’ll be slobbering into my soup and telling poor, unsuspecting souls on the bus that “I’m eighty-two, you know”.

Life – it’s all so fleeting, isn’t it? Why, just the other day I was splashing about in a plastic pool, sucking strawberry-flavoured condensed milk out of a triangular cardboard box and popping into the house every now and then to marvel at the test pattern on TV . . . Ah, those were the days.

But enough of these maudlin musings. Somehow I have been on this Earth for an entire half century so I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve learnt (and/or realised) in the letters that spell out this particular f-word. Here goes:

F is for fixing things you’ve given up asking the person you agreed to marry in a fit of giggles and a haze of cut-price booze a quarter of a century ago to fix. The blocked pool cleaner, the squeaking doors, the hole in the hosepipe, the crack in the bathroom wall inflicted by the heel of a flying boot when the hairdryer wouldn’t cooperate, you name it . . . But it also stands for “I can’t fix it, I’m fifty” when it comes to things you really, really can’t face – shimmying up onto the roof to de-leaf the overflowing gutters in a hail storm, for instance, and absolutely anything to do with cars. Hey, you’re a selective fixer.

I is for indulgence. Because you really can flop about on weekends now, unlike when the children were little and needed feeding/company in the loo/keeping apart. These days all they need is a toaster, cash and the car keys – leaving you free to welcome back an old friend who’s been lurking in the shadows for years. Come in, come in, fundamental laziness! How you’ve been missed!

F is for the freedom to say the f-word. This might shock your mom and aunts, but it’s been hard, in all that time you were trying to set a good example to the kids, to keep your mouth clean. Let’s face it, though, your work with your offspring is done – you’ve shaped and moulded to the best of your ability. If you didn’t get it right it’s too late now. So what difference is a little slack in the P’s- and Q’s-minding department going to make? You don’t have to f and blind with abandon, of course, but after years of deprivation you deserve to let rip every now and then. You can always blame it on menopause, the mother****er.

T is for travel. Real travel, not just other side of Sir Lowry’s Pass/Magaliesberg/Drakensberg travel. The best thing about kids is they (eventually, eventually) become less dependent, leaving you free to indulge yourself and your dreams. We aren’t talking major-league stuff here – cruises and five star hotels and shopping in Gucci or anything like that. But it’s amazing what licking a gelato on a French beach or walking across the Brooklyn Bridge can do for your soul. And cheap wine is never as delicious as when it’s sipped in a foreign land.

Y is for all things yummy. It started out being for yoga, and that’s great too, but yummy things deserve a special mention. For years they (chocolate, cookies, whatever) have been held them at arm’s length. But you’re fifty now, for heaven’s sake – give in already! Your body is on the skids anyway. And you can always go to yoga afterwards.

Okay, so: put all the letters together and what do you get? Fifty, fifty, fifty, yeah, yeah, yeah. If I say it long and loud enough maybe I’ll even get used to the fact it applies to me.

- Nicola Whitfield

More from Nicola:

So easily amused

I’m so over exercise!

Stretched to the limit

Image: Peter Morawski on Flickr

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