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I confess. I read them furtively, ensconced in my mother's bathroom, embedded in her boudoir. An irrepressible zine-aholic, I thumbed their pages long before I understood what I was reading. Problems and pleasures far beyond my years flashed before my eyes. More often than not, fascination was flooded by fear. But despite my early forays into the arcane arena of adult magazines, nothing prepared me for the day when I found a copy of the oxymoronic "Modern Maturity" in my own mailbox, addressed to me.

There are things I acccept about being fifty, albeit grudgingly. Despite the miracles of modern optometry, I can't read the small print. I've had enough years of reproductive ability to deliver many of the other parents volunteering at the school fair, let alone their children. Though the hand is steady and the color clear, lipstick bleeds into every nook and cranny surrounding my upper lip. For a recent business jaunt, I packed enough moisturizer to rehydrate the Sahara.

But despite my increasing awareness of decline and decrepitude, the "life style enhancers" offered in publications for the allegedly "older and wiser" seem as foreign to me today as they did while I thumbed their incomprehensible pages 20 years ago. Ads assail me for folding glasses that make tiny print legible, potions to brighten dentures, and "adult" communities in sunny Arizona or Florida. I could win a free scooter, save money on prescriptions, or achieve "amazing comfort" for my heels. In the emotional pocket I reserve for situations I don't want to approach, there is a nagging awareness that someday I will welcome these services. But 50 no longer seems to be the gateway to geezerhood. I still love carousels, ice cream cones, colors and crayons. "I am so young at heart", I reassure myself. "So young...'

I listen to the radio in my past-modern minivan, now more a conveyance for antique sideboards than elementary schoolboards. Classical music or "golden oldies" keep me alert enough to drive instead of daydream. I like my music (and most people, too) soft and subtle. Suddenly the halcyon description of a facility for assisted living jarred my journey. For an undisclosed fee (probably more than most who need assistance have accrued), Cranky Acres (the real name has been disguised to protect us all!) offered to provide nutritious and medically appropriate meals, assist with all elements of personal hygeine, and encourage all senior inhabitants to maintain a semblance of their former lifestyles.

I accessed my inner thoughts, waiting impatiently while the radio broadcast its badinage. "More adult literature", I mused. "Not for me. I'd much rather wonder Who Wrote the Book of Love". My reverie came to an end seconds before the ad, giving me time to hear yet another description of Cranky Acres, where they put the style in senior life. I nearly veered off the road as I heard the four most frightening words in the English language. With clarity and calm, the announcer intoned, "Ages fifty and up." I shifted into overdrive and gunned the engine. Zzzooooooom! This is what fifty looks like. (Not to mention, sixty, seventy and eighty...) You'd never guess what a minivan can do, until Cranky Acres starts looking for you!

Written by Marcia Brown Rubinstien
May 25, 1998

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