Coming to Grips with Pushing 50

Halfway between 48 and 49, I keep getting tell-tale signs that I’m not as young as I used to be. Here are 14 of them…

1. I used to be The Chart King. This year I became a nostalgia queen.

The Grammy nominations were announced this week, and for the first time in history, Ive never heard of a single Best New Artist nominee. Meanwhile, the only Album of the Year contender whose competing opus I’ve listened to in its entirety is Lorde’s Melodrama. She’s also the only nominee who isn’t a person of color, so if she wins, the Grammys will be deemed racist once again. If I cared, I’d be rooting for her by default (he types while ducking from blunt objects the Beyhive throws at his head).

Jay-Z, whose 4:44 is also nominated for Album of the Year, was born, like me, in 1969, so it’s good to know a guy my age can still score major Grammy love. After all the complaints over Beyonce and Kanye West never winning that particular award, wouldn’t it be something if her husband and his on-off bestie beat them to it? The possibility of that grand irony should make me care again — but I still don’t.

2. Australia doesn’t want me because I’m not 45 or younger anymore.

Today I found out that the cut-off age for me to qualify for permanent residency in Australia is 45. Does this mean that even if I hadn’t quit my editing job in Sydney last February after two years and three months and had kept it to get my PR, I still would have been a few years past eligibility? If I ever bought into that “Age is nothing but a number” crap (and I never have), now I know for sure that the higher the double digits, the more age is so much more than a number.

3. I’ve never been so recruitable, but…

Despite my decades of experience and my “impressive” resume, my next full-time gig remains elusive. I know it’s partly because I’m too ripe and over-experienced for the jobs I could have gotten in my sleep back in, say, my mid-thirties. On a 100 percent-positive note, back then I wouldn’t have had the stored-up financial resources to wait out unemployment in places as fascinating as Bangkok, India, Berlin, Prague, Budapest…

4. The folks with the hiring power have gotten so young.

Speaking of my bust of a job search, many of the people who have been interviewing me are noticeably and considerably younger than me. Maybe they don’t want to feel like they’re bossing dad around.

5. I would go out tonight, but I haven’t got a stitch to wear.

I know. What a forty- and fifty-something musical reference (The Smiths!). But I just can’t drag myself out to explore the bar/club scenes in foreign cities anymore. During the last 11 days in Prague, I haven’t gone out at all, and during my previous month in Berlin, I only went out once. How times have changed. I used to shudder at the thought of missing a Friday or Saturday night out on the town, in any town. Now when I’m in bed before 10 (and I usually am), I don’t miss a thing.

6. Status updates are so mid-forties.

On the subject of things I don’t miss, I’m in the middle of my second extended Facebook deactivation this year, and I’ve never been happier not knowing what’s up in the lives of so many people I never actually talk to.

7. I’m sounding more and more like my parents did 20 years ago.

I find myself saying things like “You’re still young” and “You’ll see when you get older” regularly in conversation. Now I know how my parents used to feel.

8. Good lighting has never been so important.

I’m regularly hedging my age on dates — “over 40,” “in my forties,” “in my mid-forties,” if I’m feeling particularly bold. Getting that “No way!” look from guys in their twenties and thirties who thought I was closer to their age is even better than sex, which I rarely have anymore. Damn all those unflattering angles!

9. Age restrictions on gay meet apps sting.

I keep realizing that I’m probably older than almost everyone I see on the street, on trains, on planes, on Grindr, and on Scruff. Suddenly I feel a rush of relief every time a hot young grid guy’s profile says he’s “into daddies.”

10. No company is the best company.

I have no interest in making new friends. In fact, most of the time, I’d just rather be alone. I always predicted I’d end up a Garbo-esque recluse, and I’m already getting good practice.

11. Sleeping in is waking up at dawn.

Snooze button? I’m actually excited when 6am arrives because I’ve lived to see another new day.

12. A headache is no longer just a headache.

It’s harder to brush off minor aches and pains as being merely transient annoyances. Every one signals the potential end because, well, I’m not 30 anymore. I’m still young enough to remember when 30 was the end and old enough to realize how silly I was back then.

13. Jane Fonda, who will turn 80 next month, inspires me now the way she inspired people forty-something and older in the ’80s.

Did you see her at the Emmy Awards? I can’t decide if celebrities are aging better than they used to, or if the older I get, the less ancient “older” seems. Who needs Australia when you’ve got stars like Fonda, Christie Brinkley, and Helen Mirren to restore your appreciation of vintage?

14. I long for the past, embrace the present, and look forward to the future.

To quote a big Jesus Jones hit from the good old days when big hits still really mattered: “Right here, right now, there is no other place I’d rather be.” Thank God and praise Jesus (no relation — for those young enough not to remember 1991) I mean it as much now as I did then and probably still will tomorrow.

Brother Son Husband Friend Loner Minimalist World Traveler. Author of “Is It True What They Say About Black Men?” and “Storms in Africa”

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