IT CANNOLI GET BETTER
A vecchiaia, old age. My grandmother, my mother, and my aunt said that every time they tried to get out of a car or rose to get out of a chair. Full disclosure: now, I say it.I’m tempted to deny that I’m aging, but I don’t. I’m getting the message.
First, it’s the knees. Walking, climbing, dancing…ah, I remember them well. Then, the hands start to curl and stiffen. It becomes difficult to open a jar of green olives. Thanks a lot, Arthritis. Then one evening, without warning, I find myself holding a book and moving it back and forth, closer and farther, closer and farther, as if playing the trombone, until I can make out the words. When did my hair begin to grey? Eh, at least an $8 box of Nutrisse can fix that. Unfortunately, most signs of aging are more stubborn. Like jowls. Really? No woman should have jowls. I wonder if my hips and thighs widened because all the collagen from my waist up has succumbed to gravity and floated down stream. And, for the love of sweets, how does Medicare work? I totally get why some people are tempted to lie about their age. But as with most things, lying doesn’t make it so. We will always be as old as our tongue and a little older than our teeth, as Kris Kringle answered so eloquently in “Miracle on 34thStreet” when asked his age.
I understand aging. I’ve watched all my plants die. I get that my body will change…is changing. What I don’t understand is how any given food with a fixed number of calories can add 30% more weight to the human body after forty. How? Is this new math, math I’m too old to understand? And as if old age doesn’t arrive with enough baggage, it also positions itself as the nemesis of temptation. Many of AARP age know that no matter how tempting it is to take a walk in gorgeous fall weather, the knees–on standby for replacements–and feet–plastered atop orthotics–aren’t down for it. No matter how tempting that six-hundred-calorie pastry looks, you can’t eat it. It has no intention of going through your digestive system. The entire sweet delight will kick back and live atop your bum and hips until you die. For women of a certain age (flimsy phrase. We all know what it means.) temptation is a daily battle. One cannoli can kill you after menopause.
Isn’t there any scientist out there who could iron out the wrinkles in the aging process? Literally and figuratively. With the money I’ve spent on retinol, I could probably fund the cost of a low-level, assisted-living apartment for at least a few months.
I should be thinking about the proper nutrition to keep blood pressure normal, keep joints flexible, to lose weight. But honestly, now that I mentioned cannoli, there’s nothing but a giant, grandmother-sized tray of Italian pastries on my mind…cannoli…sorry, back to the topic.
Aging, it’s got its downside, but there are perks. The kids are old enough to bathe themselves. Hell, they may be employed and living somewhere other than your house. And you’re smarter. You’ve racked up experience. You’ve been places, done things, met people. You know who you are, and you don’t give a flying rat’s patootie who likes or doesn’t like what you’re wearing. You and your significant other have history. You have friendships that go back decades. Maybe your mortgage is paid off.
So, you have a few more pounds to lug around, and you had to trade stilettos for sneakers–sneakers with every outfit, and I do mean every–and now you carry hard candy in your purse, and repeat things, and watch your salt intake. So what? The confidence and soul comfort that comes with growing into yourself is sweet. Pastry sweet. You can be master of your universe. Better yet, you’re finally free to define your universe. You can leave the tightrope tension of the corporate world and take up crochet. After sixty, there’s time to write your novel, learn mahjong, read books, or paint landscapes. And then there are all those well-earned, senior discounts–movies, train tickets, museums, etc. What else can one do with a freedom sixty years in the making? I cannoli imagine.
And as long as you stay alive, it cannoli get better.
Maureen Mancini Amaturo, though named after Maureen O’Hara, is 200% Italian. Her heritage taught her well to eat, love, and pray. She’s obsessed with cooking for her Italian husband and pure-pedigree children, was first in her family to graduate college (BA in English, MFA in Creative Writing,) and wears black frequently, as much a symptom of her 30+ years as a fashion/ beauty writer as it is of her Italian heritage. She teaches creative writing and has had essays, non-fiction, fiction, humor, and celebrity interviews published and currently writes “Dressing On the Side,” a fashion column she created for her local newspaper.