On a random January Sunday, I invited a few of my friends over for cocktails and dinner. While everyone was having a great time enjoying the food and imbibing on margaritas, I noticed a central, unwelcomed, theme in the conversation; ageism. Knowing that gay banter can frequently be tongue-in-cheek, pointed, flippant and “shady,” I initially brushed off the comments as I am mostly thick-skinned. After the event, I found myself frequently lost in thought reflecting on the critical behavior of my friends. There were a few revelations in my retrospective. Firstly, my guests were not all gay, so everyone was in on the “fun.” Secondly, the age of my guests ranged from 27 to 36, placing 14 years between myself and the eldest guest. Thirdly, a mob mentality persisted. Every guest participated in the “let’s poke fun at Scott’s age” bandwagon.
While I certainly understand my friends having some fun and being a bit silly, I was quite taken back with the ferocity of the criticism. Aging is something I can’t escape. Frankly, I believe I’m managing my aging quite well. I’m quite happy about making it to midlife essentially unscathed. I’m healthy, financially secure, fit, and confident; qualities that everyone should be proud of. Having those qualities overlooked then being pointedly attacked for my age, didn’t have me doing cartwheels about the people I called my friends. Friends should prop each other up, not snarkily criticize them.
Many years ago I was having a heat to heart conversation with my mother and asked her for her best piece of advice on life. She didn’t hesitate one second to say, “Keep your friends varied. All ages and all walks of life.” I’ve tried to embrace that philosophy, but I find a sourness growing towards my younger friends due to their fixation on my age. There’s so much more to talk about and engage in other than sophomoric attacks on age. So mom, I’ve changed your mantra a bit to, “Gather friends who are varied, smart, intellectually engaged and supportive.”
I second this meme from Pinterest, apparently quoting Angel Bassett.