Thursday, July 13, 2006

Hello Ms. Botox, Hello Mr. Viagra

The last frontier of discrimination is not with respect to women or gays. Nor is it particularly unfair or unjust. No injustice is being committed; no immoral acts are being performed. Yet it is pernicious and hurtful. What I have in mind is the discrimination we all make on the basis of age. In general old people hang with, date and marry old people. Young people socialize with, date and marry young people. Middle age people stick to middle age people. Ageism is directly responsible for the isolation and loneliness of the elderly.

It’s even worse than what I just described. 60 year olds, who are not exactly spring chickens, will be damned before they socialize with seniors 75+ year old. A 40 year old, who can still remember being carded, feels ill at ease with a 55 year old, who is facing the ultimate carding ignominy, AARP membership and senior discounts. And so on all the way down to preschoolers who refuse to play with toddlers.

Ageism is less obtrusive for men because there is a long standing and tolerated practice of men dating down. Men tend to date women younger than themselves, and to a large extent women go along with this unfair tradition, frequently because they have no choice. Despite its acceptance, dating down has a limit. A five years difference is ok, twenty raises all sorts of questions. A few men continue to marry women much younger than themselves, but a few men do all sorts of things.

There are two developments that have made age discrimination more painful. The first is the introduction of drugs such as Viagra for erectile dysfunction. Before Viagra men’s aspirations were constrained by their capabilities. Now every senior citizen can experience a second adolescence. Mazel Tov! The sadness comes because a 75 year old stud is still 75 in all other respects. He might be eyeing the under 45 set, but he still wants to be on time for the early bird special.

The second development that is making ageism more painful is the increased acceptance of botox and cosmetic surgery, even in conservative and traditional circles. Most people are in better shape today than their parents were at their age. Once a woman convinces herself she doesn’t just feel younger than her age, but actually looks younger than her age, she is much less inclined to passively accept the practice of dating down. In fact, she might want to do some dating down herself. People don’t seem to realize that even if you look good FOR your age, most everyone including botoxniks LOOK their age. Each of us has this natural ability to judge how old a person is, and this ability does not involve counting wrinkles.

All this leads to a one big comic mismatch. A 65 year old man, who was willing to settle in with a 55 year old woman, is now looking for a 45 year old. The 55 year old gebotoxed woman who was willing to hook up with the 65 year old, is now looking for someone 50, might settle for 60, but will in no way consider walking around with an old man of 65.

I’m going to talk to Rebbetzin Jungreis and Dr. Phil and find out what can be done to solve this problem.

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