The Third Age: Discrimination

I remember when the phrase "3rd age" started popping up, I thought it was something more transcendental than "New Age", more  California cookie stuff.  It wasn't until I was almost there, that I understood, the 3rd Age meant people between 60-89.  I guess if you hit 90 you enter the Twilight Zone.

So here I am, in the so called 3rd Age.  I look nothing like the pictures of those kindly, gray haired, grandparent types.  I don't think I ever will.  It's not my style.  However, my age, is written in files that are accessed by the government, doctors, and of course Facebook.

I have never seen my age as a limitation to anything, except short skirts in the summer.  In the winter I can cover up those ugly knees with tights.  I put streaks of blue and purple in my platinum blond hair.  I wear skinny jeans. Probably most important is my active lifestyle.  Nothing slows me down.

This year, I started to notice age discrimination when I went to the doctor.  In Argentina you really don't have a regular doctor.  If you have something urgent you go to a guardia or urgent care center where they do not have your medical records.  In fact, your medical records are all over the place since you never have a regular doctor. 

Earlier this year (before Cacho the new pup) Maxi and Jerrybrown were having turf wars in my bed. This was going on as I slept, and I ended up with a shoulder I could barely move and in pain.  It didn't go away after a few days so I went to the "guardia" of my HMO/PPO.  

Before you see the doctor, they have your info on the screen.  When they called my name I walked into the room.  The doctor was about 35 and overweight.  He never bothered to look up at me from the computer.  All he knew was that I was a female, 66, and had a sore shoulder.

"Your problem," he says to me, again without looking at me, "is that you don't do any physical activity." Whaaaaaaaaat???  "Excuse me," I tell him, "but I do."  Still with his head stuck in the computer he responds "You need to do pilates or yoga AT YOUR AGE."

"Would you please look at me,"  I say to him.  "I am very active."  Dr. Chubbo looks up.  He is surprised.  I am not sure what he was expecting to find, but it wasn't me in my Old Navy summer gear.  "ReaLLY," he comments.  "What is it that you do?"

I tell him I go to the gym 3 times a week for 1.5 - 2.0 hours, I walk no less than 6 km a day, and I dance tango twice a week.  "Oh" he responds, "you don't do any stretching, this is fundamental for your AGE."  I am supposed to take advice from someone whose only exercise seems to be to lift a fork to his mouth?  I let him know that I stretch for 30 minutes at the end of my workout.

He's angry.  I can tell that.  He figured he could spew his canned rap about losing weight and doing yoga or pilates, and get rid of me fast. He gets up, comes around and yanks my arm, which of course kills me. "There," he says, "That's because you don't do yoga or pilates.  You need to do age appropriate exercise."  I want to slap his fat face, but I restrain myself..obviously.

This was not an isolated time.  It seems that every doctor I go to, has this rap.  I am sure they are disappointed they can't add the lose weight to their memorized speech.  Well one did, and I asked him if he knew what I weighed and how tall I was?  That was when he looked up, and realized that losing weight was sort of a stupid thing to talk about...with me.  Again, another overweight doctor.

The last doctor I went to was a woman, and a dermatologist.  This one was about 40 something and plump.  Her first words to me were "Do you do any physical activity?"  Before I could answer, she said "Of course not, not at your age."  "Doctor,"  I said to her, "look at me.  Do you think I would look like this without a good diet and exercise?"  I lifted my sweater to show her I have a flat belly, while she obviously does not. "Well it could be genetics." she answers.  "Not at this age."  I respond.

She asks me what kind of physical activity I do, and again, before I can answer she answers for me by saying "Yoga, right?"  "No,"  I tell her.  "I hate yoga, it's boring."  I then tell her everything I do, and she says "Why so much exercise?"  Is this an idiot or what?  I tell her, "Because I like exercise." and then looking at her I ask "What kind of exercise do you do?"  She is thrown by this.  "Yes, you."  I say to her looking at her stomach.

I am sure there was a time when younger people were more active than older people, but this no longer always the case.  I know plenty of people half my age or younger who never exercise, or do not exercise regularly, who eat fast food and drink too much.  All you have to do is take a look at the general population and you see too many overweight young people.  My gym in the afternoon is full of people in my age group, and none of them are doing pilates or yoga.  They are working out, and they are serious about it.

I find it very annoying to have overweight doctors assume because I am 66, I stay at home and eat queso crema on crackers while watching Cronica.  (Cronica is a cross between Fox News and the National Enquirer.)  Come on people, get with the program, you guys need an exercise program not only for your body, but for your heads as well.

 


Living in Argentina: Bienvenido Cacho Milonguero

If you aren't a Facebook friend, then you probably don't know that in February, my little family grew.  Now in addition to Maxi Novitz and JerryBrown Novitz, there is Cacho Milonguero Novitz.  It was never my intention to have two dogs, and for sure Maxi and JerryBrown were not thinking about this either.  But you know, shit happens.

I had this friend in the milonga - Juan Carlos.  He had two strokes and was hospitalized.  He had a year old puppy he called "Pichuco" that he obviously could not care for.  A good friend came and took the former Pichuco to her home, where she lived with her two cats.  Unfortunately he terrorized the cats and was a real quilombero.  She wanted him to go to a good home so she posted on Facebook that he was Juan Carlo's dog and that he needed a home.

I don't know what happened to me.  I saw this little black puppy with a sad face.  He was really cute.  His pictures and the post were shared by many people I knew, but no one wanted him.  Everyone that he was adorable, but not enough to step and say they would take him. IMG_20190209_134607613

I felt bad.  I offered to take him as a fostered dog.  I was leaving in a couple of weeks for a 6 week trip to Europe, Morocco, and Miami. (What a combination) That weekend Karin came with her daughter and the former Pichuco in a carrier.  I met her downstairs with Maxi.  Maxi was thrilled.  She could not wait until he came out of the carrier.  But the poor little guy was overwhelmed and he could only cowe before Maxi and yes, JerryBrown.  JerryBrown decided he was worthless since he didn't know how to play.

He knew no commands.  He didn't even come when you called him.  He had worms and fleas.  He seemed very sweet but meek.  That lasted until the next day when I fed him.  He turned into a snarling, snapping, biting, gargoyle.  He was scary.  He bit me, he tried to bite Maxi (she was faster) and JerryBrown escaped to his hobbit hole.  Food was obviously an issue with this guy.  Google to the rescue.  I fed him upstairs in the bathroom with the door closed.  He could eat in peace and know that no one was going to take his food away.

He didn't know how to ask to go outside.  This meant 10 walks until he got the idea he was supposed to go outside and not inside.  We would go to the pet store Puppis and he would pee on the floor there.  Male dogs mark. I never had a male dog.  But everyone loved him.  He attracted attention wherever we went.

I was leaving soon. Maxi always goes to her former dog walker in Palermo when I leave.  I sent Juan a Whats App with Cacho's picture, age, weight, etc.  Juan is in a network of dog walkers who look rescue dogs and find homes for them.  He was very optimistic about being able to place the dog formerly known as Pichuco.

Then a few days before my trip, he came and sat down next to me. He gave me "the look."  It was a sad look.  It was like he knew he would not be here permanently.  I felt bad. In that moment I realized that he was such a sweet puppy, smart, and trainable.  OK, we have to change your name.  I thought.  Since he doesn't respond to Pichuco or Troilo or Coquito. (All names people in the milonga said were his)

I believe that animals choose their own names.  I started. Cory Booker?  No response.  Negro, Negrito. (He did respond but seriously, that would not be such a great name.  Blackie.)  Houdini. (He was the great escape artist even when tied up)  Shadow. (Because he followed me everywhere)  Then one day after getting into to it with JerryBrown I told him "Sos un cachito de mierde" (You are a little shit. Cachito is from Cacho which means piece.  It's a nickname for many men) He looked up at me. "Cachito?"  He feebly wagged his tale and from then on he became Cacho or Cachito or even Cache.  He liked that name.  He came when called.

He left with Maxi to Juan's with a long list of behavior issues.  Juan is like the dog whisperer.  I was 5 days into my trip and he sent me a Whats App.  "Food isn't a problem anymore."  Throughout my trip I got Cacho and Maxi updates until one day he said that he could get him adopted.  "Noooooo"  I told him, he's ours.

It's now been 4 months.  I never felt like I shouldn't have done this.  He is a sweet dog.  I hate to say this, but much sweeter than either Maxi or especially JerryBrown.  He is learning.  I cannot get him to learn any commands in Spanish.  He rebels.  He knows them all in English: sit, down, come, and we are still working on stay and leave it.   He's difficult.  I think it's his being a male..and an Argentine male at that. Getting him fixed should help many of his macho issues.

He hasn't quite figured out that JerryBrown is the man of the house...and he is..the intruder.  Don't mess with JerryBrown.   Jerry Brown  will win everytime, and when he gets in trouble, Maxi comes and drags Cacho away by his neck.  These guys actually like each other, although sometimes it's hard to tell. IMG_20190210_191037107_BURST001 IMG_20190210_191037107_BURST001

I love watching them interact.  I suppose it's like having 3 kids.  Here we are. IMG_20190211_110618473

 


Musings: Sucking Face Takes On A New Meaning

I have these days where I don't want to go to Facebook.  Those days are now getting closer and closer together.  Facebook is like the refrigerator on a rainy day.  You keep opening it to see if there is anything new or different...but it's the same old boring stuff.

Don't get me wrong.  Facebook does have a place in my life.  I am able to stay in touch with friends all over the world.   I can see new events I might want to attend, and I get news I may or may not want to hear.

The issue I have with Facebook is that people have gotten so rude, and sometimes so mean to each other. It's as though being able to hide behind the screen allows you to virtually smack the face of another person.  It's as though the only opinion that counts is your own.  This issue is not just Facebook, but  social media in general. People are not interfacing.

The act of discussion is being left behind.  I now experience people, friends, who are unable to have a conversation.  The more people seem to interact with their screens the less they are able to have a two way discussion.  This situation is not relegated to only young people, but people of all ages.  I find this maddening.

I am not talking about people online, but people you have face time with or even speak to on the telephone.  When I returned from my most recent trip, friends asked me how my trip was.  I was gone 6 weeks to Spain, Portugal, and Morocco, plus some time in Miami.  There were few exceptions either here in Argentina or in the US where my friends listened to me.  

They would message me to see if we could get together so they could hear about my trip or call me to see how it was.  More often than not I would start to talk about my experiences only to be interrupted by the other person.  They would begin to tell me about stuff that was not earth shattering.  The cost of vegetables.  What their dog or cat did.  Something that happened at work. The truth was, they were not really interested in my trip.  When I finally asked one friend if they really wanted to hear about my trip he told me "I saw your pictures on Facebook, it looked awesome."  In other words flipping through a few pictures on Facebook was enough.

image from www.abc.net.auWhat I notice is that all of these friends either work online or spend an inordinate amount of time online whether it be on their computer screens or telephones.  One friend would probably shrivel up and die if his cell phone was stolen.  It is never out of his hand, and is usually in front of his face.  You sit there like an idiot waiting for him to finish up what is so important..and he never does.  "I have so many friends." he tells me.  "It's so hard to keep up with all of them."  So what am I?  Chopped liver?

I have gone on dates with men who spend most of the date WhatsApping their daughters. (First and last date..) Once a fellow started out our date by texting.  After what seemed like forever, I finally said to him "You know,  you don't have to take me out if you don't want to.  (We had met online and this was the second meeting) If you would rather not, it's not a big deal to me.  You can just take me home."  He looked at me like I was crazy, not understanding.  He didn't get it.  When I mentioned that he had spent the first 10 minutes on his phone his response was "I have lots of friends."  OK, yeah. "Well I have lots of friends too.  So should we have a date where you are on your phone chatting with your friends, and I will be on my phone messaging my friends? If so, why am I here?"  He didn't get it.

How many times have you been somewhere and noticed groups of people who are together, but on their phones.  I don't get it.  You decide to get together with a group of friends and you spend that time on your phone???  Doesn't anyone  else think that is weird?

I think it's great that articles and studies are now being published warning about how technology impacts the social development of children. Parents in Silicon Valley are now restricting the access to  technology from their children.  Children need to learn how to have relationships and that will not develop if their main relationship is a tablet or phone.  I notice now rather than put kids in front of the TV, a tablet is shoved into their hands.  When we went to restaurants or long car rides, my parents gave us books.  Children now have tablets with mind numbing games.

Many times when on the bus, it is usual that people are looking at their phones.  I include myself in that group.  I have the Kindle app on my phone and I read.  It is also usual to hear kids screaming at their parents for the parent's phone. Yesterday a woman got on the bus.  She was most likely from the north of Argentina or Bolivia and poor.  She shepherded her 3 children onto the bus. The two older children who were maybe 7 and 9 sat together.  The woman sat with her 3 year old.  The two older children pulled out books to read.  This was something I had not seen in  years.  Maybe there is hope.