“I got a sweater for Christmas but I really wanted a screamer or a moaner.”

My friend saw that on a sign in Vancouver, B.C., outside a restaurant known for their funny signs. I know it’s risqué, especially for me, but it’s also one of the funniest things I’ve ever read. For some reason, the more I say it to myself, the funnier it gets.

Maybe, just maybe, it’s because five days after Christmas I turned 60, and I think that’s about the age my mother lost her filter. As I recall, one day she was as prim and proper as the queen of England and the next, she was telling a joke about the difference between bowling and sex. I’ll spare you that one. No pun intended.

But suddenly, she was telling this joke to me! My mom who never, ever, ever talked about sex except to tell me that an aspirin could keep me from getting pregnant.

"How does aspirin keep you from getting pregnant?" I’d asked.

“You keep it between your knees,” she whispered.

Now, I’m the one laughing at a risqué sign and putting it in a newspaper column for the whole world to read.

Maybe the decades just do that to all of us. For years we are vibrant, productive and well-behaved members of society, but as time creeps in, and things around us start to change, we wake up one day and we realize that not only have we lost our reading glasses, we’ve lost our filter, too. And we don’t care! That’s the beauty of it!

When I turned 55, the fact that I could order cheaper meals off the back of Denny’s menu couldn’t make up for the horrendous realization that I was no longer important to advertising executives. People between the ages of 25 and 54 are their key demographics for everything except Depends undergarments and ED drugs.

Sports cars, soft drinks, razors? Those commercials aren’t for us. They know we drive sensible sedans or SUVs, we drink decaf coffee and some of us don’t even need to shave our legs anymore. It stopped growing on our calves and pops out on our chins instead.

Don’t get me wrong. We’re still important as we get older, just to a different crowd. Two days before my birthday I received my Golden Buckeye card and a flyer from a funeral home, offering a special on pre-planned funerals. Happy birthday to me!

There is something deliciously satisfying, though, about being older. You care more about the important things and you couldn’t care less about the unimportant.

I see how quickly my kids grew up and I also see all the things I did wrong. My 15-month old granddaughter is the beneficiary of that wisdom and maybe that’s why grandparenting is so much better than parenting.

We also stop worrying about what other people think. Sad to say, that’s how I was raised.

“What will other people think, Robin?” That’s a question my mom asked me over and over. Consequently, I grew up to be a people-pleaser who cared more about what other people thought than what I thought, and I was timid and fearful of confrontation.

Thirty years ago, I had a news director I'll call Shirley, who would leave nasty little notes on my desk every Friday during the six o’clock news. She would be gone when I found them, and I would stew about them the entire weekend, which was precisely her plan. (Whoever said bullying ends in high school?)

This went on for months. I was in agony but fearful of confronting her. She was my boss, after all.

Finally, the weekend headaches and stomach troubles got to be too much and I walked into her office one Monday afternoon with all the courage I could muster.

"Shirley, it’s obvious that you don’t like me," I stammered. "It’s also obvious that this newsroom isn’t big enough for the both of us so one of us better get another job. I think I have the better chance of doing that, but when our general manager asks me why I’m leaving, I will tell him it’s because of you."

Perspiring and shaking, I walked out of her office.

And you know what? I worked there two more years before leaving, and I never got another note.

At 60, I would call that person out after the first nasty note. I wouldn’t even wait until the next Monday to do so. I still work with a few bullies and jerks from time to time, but I haven’t lost my filter so much that I will call them out here. However, I deal with them swiftly and directly now, and that is part of the freedom that being 60 brings.

They say 60 is the new 40 and 9 p.m. is the new midnight. I think I’m really going to like this decade of caring less what other people think. Maybe I’ll even defy those advertisers and buy a sports car and cases of Pepsi, which I can drink while pre-planning my funeral.

Oh by the way, I got a sweater for Christmas. It was a red turtleneck.

 

Contact Robin Swoboda at Robinswoboda@outlook.com.