Aging at the Apple Store

Okay, so I’m at the Apple Store yesterday, here in our fancy-schmancy end of Scottsdale, AZ, sitting at the ‘genius bar,’ — (a counter where you go when you have a question about your Apple product), and a song comes over the music system in the store. It’s an old song, something from maybe the 70’s or so, and I don’t recognize it or pay much attention.

In the meantime, the man sitting next to me at “the bar,” (it’s like a bar, but without food or drink), starts up a conversation with the young kid who is working behind the counter.  They’re both working away on a new iPad. The two of them begin discussing the name of the band that is playing on the store’s music system, and then they both turn to me to verify what band it is.

Well, I don’t know the band, but I listen for a moment and realize it’s clearly a 70’s song, and I look at the semi-bald, pot bellied man next to me, assuming by the mass of wrinkles around his forehead and eyes that he is about my age since men famously age faster than we do.  At minimum, I guess that he’s from a similar musical history such as I’ve had, so I make a JOKE about the young kid behind the bar, being “too young to remember the 70’s.”

The young kid agrees.  Then he adds that he was “born the 90’s.”  (Born in the 90’s and he’s working an adult job? How can that be, … it was just “the 90’s” ten minutes ago.)

So I say to the man next to me, whom I am SURE is of my same era, “Well, I’m at least off the hook, I’m pushing 60 soon so I’m excused if I’m losing my long term memory,” or something to that effect, meant only as a pre-mature and self-deprecating JOKE that I am SURE he would easily and readily relate to.  After all, he’s balding, wrinkled and getting a bit thick in the middle, — the latter, just like I seem to soon be heading toward sometime soon.


(Audible gasp!!! WHAT????????????????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!?????????  HIS “DAD” IS MY AGE????)

OMG, OMG, OMG! (and yes, I use acronyms like “OMG” and I often still employ multiple explanation points, — that’s how out of touch I am with my age.)

This was one of those unexpected life’s ‘moments,’ — the kind that hit you over the head that TIME — has — indeed — passed. I’m now old enough to have a balding, pot-bellied SON with crow’s feet, — rather than that description just being of a ‘peer’ of mine that I might see at a class reunion? The latter had been bad enough.

It’s ironic, I think, when you don’t have kids, or now I guess I’d have to add grand — kids; You are truly and constantly without any sense at all of time having passed, both for the good and the bad of it. Nothing more marks decades gone past other than maybe the changing models of cars, the shrinking size of cell phones, or the gradual absence of side burns and shoulder pads. And damn, I miss those shoulder pads! They made our butts look tiny by comparison. Verg Wang, Donna Karan, I beg you, please bring them back!

Without some kind of clock-minder in your life, like I suppose the daily presence of growing kids must be, your mind and heart STILL fully and perhaps cruelly allow you to earnestly believe that you’re still 39.

So this morning, I’m home alone bemoaning this new ‘reality’ that seems to have entered my life with a distinct thud yesterday afternoon. Dear Lord, could it be time for ‘sensible shoes?

Right now I’m googling the name of any famous woman I remember seeing in the media when I was growing up, and staring at their current age photos to try to discover what the hec a ’59 year old’ is supposed to look like or what I can expect at 62 or 65 or beyond. Who are these women, what do they look like these days and I am now one of them?

I guess the answer is yes. Candice Bergen, Goldie Hawn, Madonna, Kim Bassinger, Kirstie Alley, Twiggy, Christie Brinkley, Sally Fields, Cheryl Teigs, Olivia Newton John, Cyndi Lauper, Whoopi Goldberg, Condoleezza Rice,  Lynda Carter, Oprah herself, and then there’s the ultimate 70’s icon, Farrah Fawcett, who sadly is now deceased … (rest in peace Farrah.)

(BTW; I don’t recommend this exercise. Be forewarned, it may send you diving head first into a one gallon container of Pralines and Cream.)

Could this be one more element of having children that had never occurred to me before this very day? Maybe they’re in your life in part to ease you into your new reality slowly, gently, kindly, year by year. I’m not certain about that, but trust me, this was far too much for this childless women to handle in a single afternoon.

Well, just sharing. Thanks for letting me.

In the grand scale of things like the threat of chemical warheads in Syria, 25% unemployment and utter economic chaos in Greece, the perils of global warming, etc., etc., — I realize this has no place on anyone’s worry list.  Truly, don’t fret, I do fully get that. I’m just another aging female, it’s no big deal.

BUT, — if you’ve also had such ‘moments’ too, please, — DO feel free to share! –


Jeanne Butare is an avid photographer, a published author, a magazine contributor, a world traveler, a perpetual student of psychology and sociology, a periodic television correspondent on network news, and a former investigative interviewer of high-trauma victims and eyewitnesses in high profile criminal cases. Her book, ‘Portraits of Guilt,’ was an Edgar Award nominee and she was a recipient of the national Women in Business ‘Magnificent Seven’ Award in Washington, DC..  

Her work and life story have been featured in LA Times, The Oregonian, San Francisco Chronicle, The Washington Post, The London Times, German Vogue, on the covers of US and French Reader’s Digest, in Biography, People, McCalls, Redbook, National Geographic and Elle magazines, in La Repubblica in Milan, The Moscow Times, US Magazine, Australian edition, and Time Magazine’s China edition. She’s worked on such notorious cases as the Oklahoma City Bombing, the Susan Smith child drownings in SC, the Polly Klaas kidnapping in CA, the Ennis Cosby murder in LA, the Elizabeth Smart kidnapping in Utah, the Molly Bish kidnap and murder in New England, etc. Her iconic drawing of the Unabomber suspect was featured on the cover of Newsweek Magazine. 

She was chosen by Time Magazine as one of the ‘Top Ten Innovators’ from a world wide forensics field for her pioneering work in interviewing high trauma eyewitnesses and crime victims. She’s taught investigative interviewing skills to the Militia in Moscow, Russia, in Tokyo, Japan, Beijing, Shanghai and Hangzou, China and taught trauma victim sensitivity skills to multiple task forces comprised of special investigators of political assassinations in the war zones of El Salvador. 

In addition to frequent photographic expeditions in Mexico and abroad, she also spends time with her husband Joe in their homes on the coast of S. MA, in Scottsdale, AZ and the place they nurture their inner-22-year-olds the most, San Miguel de Allende, MX. She has no children and earnestly believes she’s still 39. 

5 Responses so far.

  1. avatar Joan Larsen says:

    Jeanne .   .   .  I realize that this sounds like I am one-upping you BUT as far as I am concerned, I still feel like I am 27.  And when you feel “young” and feel good about yourself — and men still turn around and look (or better still, edge up to you at parties to talk), I have come to believe that age is only a number.  When I hit my 50s, I had found my stride in life.  I had confidence to burn as life was going VERY well.  .  . but now, a little later, it still is!!!  We take care of ourselves – our physical selves – as best we can … and while we can’t compete with the celebs that way, we can hold our own. 

    My latest story:  I just went in for a physical so the nurse is going to weigh me and is holding my chart with my age prominently displayed on the front.  She looked down at it, saying I think I picked up the wrong chart.  I will be right back.  And after a while she was.  “Will you tell me your birthdate?” she asked.  (don’t you HATE that!) But I told her.  She said she couldn’t believe this as she would have guessed 20 years younger.  And then asked if she couldn’t bring the nurses in to “look at me” as they won’t believe it either.
    And they didn’t — and a couple said that they want to look like me then at my age.  “How do I do it?” I was asked.  I swear estrogen has been the fountain of youth for me and have taken it since I was 41.  The positive effects are astonishing (and I will leave it at that).  

    But in life I don’t miss a bet.  I work at a job that challenges my mind, I travel, I write, and — OK I admit it – I am still in love with my husband who I met at 17.  What a dreamboat he is, wanting to always go to the ends of the earth with me.  

    So I think I am 27 and feel great — and by God, I am going to live each day to the fullest while many of my friends have taken a seat in front of the TV.  You are only as old as you feel, Jeanne, and when you can keep up on about every conversation no matter the topic, you are in demand I have found.  What’s not to love?? 


    • avatar Jeanne Butare says:

      Thank you Joan! Totally agreed. I think there’s also a physiological component in that if you do think of yourself as ‘young,’ somehow elements of your physical health go along with it. I think this only because of seeing people who seem to ‘lean into’ the myth that post-50 that they “should” slow down, travel less, be grand-parental perhaps as it was defined generations back, and sadly they do seem to age more radically and rapidly than others. So one’s mind-set, at least I do believe, has a great deal to do with it. It’s not denial, it’s just plain old attitude. I like your thinking. Thanks for your reply! JB

  2. avatar anneh says:

    Oh Lord.  When will it stop?  I truly wish we women – and, yes, I say “we”women because I am guilty of this on occasion myself – would stop making our outward appearance and the quest for eternal “youthfulness” such a priority and such a value.  We need to stop the madness and stop buying into the media’s promotion of “youth equals beauty” directed at women.  I have two young daughters and my sincerest hope is that by the time they are over 40 they will be living in a society that values older women much more then they do now.  It is so difficult – not to mention objectionable on so many levels – to feel like you have to keep up with all of the “youth obsessed” women using botox, plastic surgery, and whatever else to hold on to their “looks”.  Sigh.  We are our own worst enemy I’m afraid.  It’s demeaning and, in the end, it’s just plain impossible if your idea of beauty is looking 20 years old. 

    • avatar Jeanne Butare says:

      Anneh, Yes, perhaps the media does endorse the concept of “youth equals beauty” as you suggest, and for the sake of your daughters, I do hope that changes for them, as you mention.

      But this “Aging at the Apple Store” musing, (see above) isn’t related to being “youth obsessed,” or have any connection at all to “botox and plastic surgery,” — so to steer back to the point, it’s about figuring out today’s realization of where one IS on the spectrum of aging, as it has in fact changed so much within our own lifetimes. Health has changed, nutrition has changed, our exercise patterns have changed, children are born to women at later ages, in some cases safely enabled by medical advances unheard of only a few decades ago, .. certainly our geographic and academic worlds are more expansive, life expectancies have changed, too, etc., etc. But societal and/ or attitudinal changes are a little harder to measure.

      I recently ran across a photograph of my white haired grandmother who was in a oversized floral dress, her stockings rolled down to her knees, she had black lace up shoes and an apron on and was standing at a kitchen counter. That kitchen was her whole world. On the back of the photo, in faded ink, was the date. She was 43 years old at that time.

      The point: Forty three then, isn’t what forty three is now, so it’s great news, things HAVE dramatically changed, (think Jennifer Anniston, Christy Turlington, Gwen Stephani,..all presently age 43, and imagine them dressing and/or acting like ‘Aunt Bee.’) I don’t think any one of us believes or even likely wants to “look 20” at 59. Yes, that mere concept would certainly be “demeaning” as you suggest.

      But my feeling is quite the opposite. I think most of us want to fully own our experiences and accomplishments that in fact, only time has allowed. So the question then becomes, — what IS 59? Or 48, or 63 or …. in-present-day-terms? <– That's the sought after answer. The previous paradigms have been quietly but radically redefined over time and there is no overt answer sheet as to what each age as we go through them all, is "supposed" to be, feel or look like now. That's the subject of this discussion and what the moment at the Apple bar brought into question. It's not about wanting something we don't or can't have. It's about realistically defining by today's values, where we each are now and how to move our own paradigms into the present tense.

      You've introduced an interesting element though, if things have changed this much within OUR lifetimes, certainly in ways my then 43 year old grandmother likely never could have imagined, then looking forward, I wonder how they'll change over the course of your daughter's lives? That's kind of fun to ponder! Thanks for your response.

  3. avatar Linda says:

    I love this! And can defintitely understand how time is measured. I became a grandma for the first time in 1994 at 37. At the time, my own friends were still having babies and I was constantly correcting strangers I was not mom, I was grandma. And if I think I was having a hard time of keeping it straight, my grandson when he was small would think nothing of asking any woman with a touch of gray if she was a “GG”! In his mind, they would have to be since grandma did not have the gray. Made life interesting

    Now I work in a enviroment where the age group is mostly 25-40. Babies to me and the age group of my own children. Occasionally someone will ask me if I have any grandchildren yet? Yep, seven – from 4 to almost 20 years old, at that point they do not have much more to say. 🙂 Not sure if I would want to know what they are thinking. Children have a way of reminding you of time passing. They seem to be on overdrive and I tend to wish each moment lasted a little bit longer. They see time as years to spare, rushing and pausing with little continuity in days passing.

    Yet, I have no desire to wish on doing it over. At times, I am beginning to feel like a history book. Events of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s which were part of growing up – to the young are now lessons from history books in school. I listened one day to a couple young men debating if the moon was really wallked on – or just a fabricated accomplishment by way of film. Sorry boys, at that time film probably could not have produced the reality worldwide as it did when it happened.

    I was thinking the other day about a conversation my mom debated over when she was 35, on whether to attend a high school reunion and remember thinking “you are so old, nobody would remember you”! When the years behind us are short – what lies ahead seems like eternity to play in, then we reach the point where maybe we should really take time to play before life becomes shorter. I have loved it all! Just need to decide what I choose for my next 30 years.