I saw my 19 year old nephew recently, and he was surprised to hear that my husband and I now have 4 cats. Sean’s deadpan response was “You do realize you’ve become a parody of yourselves?” Yes, we realize it.
It happened slowly. First we decided we would be Childfree by Choice, but promised ourselves we wouldn’t be the weird couple with no kids and too many cats. We started with one little cat. When she died we went to the shelter and adopted 2 cats, sisters, that were about a year old. Flash forward 17 years and they were both gone. So we started again. It’s a long and convoluted story, but we ended up walking away from the shelter with 4 cats. It’s true that we are slightly more defensive when explaining that no, we don’t have children and yes, we have, umm, several cats. OK, several plus one, if you really want to get technical.
And as long as we’re being completely honest here, Dan and I spend a lot of time talking baby talk to the cats; “who’s a good little kitty?” or “you’re just a precious little furball, yes you are.”, and talking to each other through the cats; “go tell daddy to get off the computer” or “go tell mommy it’s daddy’s turn for the remote.” Parody? Absolutely.
Of course, it goes deeper than the cats. We are fully enmeshed in middle age. We are constantly annoyed with the “what did you say?” response that comes with at least half of our conversations. We both do it—yet still manage to be annoyed with the other for doing the same thing, and at the same time annoyed with the other for not speaking up louder. On the other hand, when we make our “morning noises” it seems to come through loud and clear. When did we start greeting each day with “how’s your back/knees/feet/headache?” When is the last time I made it up or down the stairs without emitting involuntary little ache and pain noises?
Dan is at peace with getting older, but I’m feeling ambivalent. In my 30s, I was desperate to still be “cool.” I tried to watch MTV as much as possible, but started slipping towards “Where are They Now?” on VH1. As I prepare to hit my 48th birthday (gasp!), I could not identify a single pop song on the charts if my life depended on it.
Along the way, we dove deeper into the heart of the parody. Dan likes to really play up the whole grumpy old man bit. Although honestly, he is grumpy about a lot of silly things. He also spends a lot of time clipping coupons, and triple checking prices from one store to the next. He goes to bed at 9 and gets bent out of shape if we stay out later than 10 on a weekend. He grumbles, under his breath, incoherently, which in and of itself is kind of an old man kind thing to do. Dan is itching to indulge in a few of those annoying eccentricities to which all seniors are entitled, but I’ve convinced him he’s not eligible for that privilege just yet.
Truth be told, I may be a bit of a cliché as well. I like to rant and rave and express my moral outrage at nearly every news story I hear. When April comes around I sometimes find myself bitching bitterly about taxes until Dan quietly tells me I sound like a Republican. He really knows where to put the knife. And once an avid rider of crazy roller coasters everywhere, the last time I was in an amusement park I heard myself saying getting on a ride wasn’t worth pulling my back out and missing work. I toddled off for something more my speed these days; a nice ride on the carousel. And not on one of those crazy up-and-down horses either! Slow and steady.
So yes, Sean, we see the parody and we’re glad to offer you some comic relief. We shall do our best to keep up the good work.