Around the Island

Jenifer’s Journal: Crone countdown

You’re never too old to play. You’re only too old for low-rise jeans. — Ellen De Generes  

When you read this today, Thursday, Dec. 2, the “countdown” will have begun. At 11:20 p.m. (but who’s counting?), Mrs. Herbert Eklund’s baby girl, Jenifer, will be turning … wait for it (I did) 75-years-old. This is the place where you’re supposed to be thinking: “No, impossible! That little slip of a thing 75?  Never!”

Thank you (just in case some sightless person is thinking that), but I’ve decided to call this column Crone Countdown because even I, Queen of Denial that I am, can’t rationalize any longer — 75 is pretty damn old. I’m crossing over into “crone” territory now for sure.

It’s about time, really. We already have a Codger column in the Reporter. Webster’s rather affectionately defines “codger” as “an often mildly eccentric and usually elderly fellow,” while providing a considerably more acerbic description for “crone”: “a cruel or ugly old woman.” 

The few synonyms listed are equally flattering: hag, hellcat, trot and witch. When does a woman qualify to be called a crone? Do I hear some of you hissing through clenched teeth, “Over my dead body”? 

According to life coach Diana Frajman on her blog “In the Celtic tradition of the three aspect of a woman’s life, or the triple Goddess, we see them as the maiden – the innocent child or youthful woman, the mother – the nurturer and the crone – the wise old woman. In some cultural traditions, women become crones when they reach the age of 50 and in others it’s when she enters menopause. Today, a woman becomes a crone when she dammed well feels she is”.

A “triple goddess,” she says. Well, O.K., I’m down with that, besides, I’m a Boomer. To quote myself from a little show I wrote, “Boomerolgy,” I’m “the last fleck on the first wave (1946) of the Baby Boom generation.”  The fact is, if we Boomers have succeeded in anything (and great debate attends upon whether we have or not), it’s in fulfilling the prophecy signaled by our generational moniker many of us “babies” have managed to avoid, if not growing older, then certainly growing up

By the end of this month there’ll be a year’s worth of us who have turned 75 since last January. For the next 14 years the world can look forward to a burgeoning bumper crop of crusty, crotchety codgers and crones probably all still listening to the Beatles and sneaking cigarettes behind the garage (not to mention borrowing their grandkid’s jeans, ergo the opening quote). 

Out of curiosity I Googled some of my fellow “first wavers” and it turns out that, aside from poor “cousin” Donny, it’s not really a bad lot. Those “forever-youngers” include Diane Keaton, Cher, Steven Spielberg, Sylvester Stallone, Sally Field (c’mon!) and Jimmy Buffet. Jimmy Buffet. I rest my case.  

Maybe my generation’s timing is finally perfect. We spent our youth as lab rats for that still-reigning tyrant, technology —TV, nuclear war, the pill, etc., etc. — with the only consistent instruction ever given to us being:  At all costs, stay young. 

So for better, but mostly worse, we have. But as a group I think we’ve also retained more than a modicum of our youthful spirit, our idealism, and our naively inflated great expectations of ourselves and, save for the chronic threat of its nuclear destruction, the world we thought we had on a string.

Maybe we need that kind of sophomoric Boomer brand of pessimistic optimism more than ever. It’s funny, now that I’m running out of “future,” I finally feel that I have one. In the nick of time I find myself really caring about the world and the chance that, assuming I can manage to stay healthy enough, I can in some way make a positive difference.

The fact is, I feel much younger now than I did as a single-parent 20-something back in the day. If that heralds the coming of this crone’s second childhood, I say bring it on. It surely will be an improvement on the first. 

Though, you know, maybe I just have a personal prejudice against “75.” From the time I turned 25, ages with a “5” in the one’s column have seemed more stodgy somehow, more ponderous than say, 26 or 27. In fact, 76 sounds so much lighter and more effervescent than 75 that, if I manage to survive long enough, I just might decide to postpone my cronehood until my 80s. I’ll keep you posted.

When enough of us start croaking they can call us Late-Boomers, I suppose, but, in what’s left of the “meantime” I intend to follow Whitman’s lead: “Hence forth I ask not for good fortune; I myself am good fortune!” 

Happy Birthday, JEM!