Aging With Impunity

Aging With Impunity

Shaindle Schmuckler

Shaindle Schmuckler spreads her energy and humor as a regular contributor to the Atlanta Jewish Times.

Shaindle’s Shpiel

Before we begin, let’s get this straight, I am who I am! I aspire to be no one else. Besides, who would I be?

I find the challenge of pushing the envelope quite exciting. Most of the time, “What shul do you attend?” inevitably leads to “Are you religious?” After all, given my name, it’s easy to make assumptions, and it’s a sneaky way to pigeonhole me.

I refuse to be dragged into a discussion or to be identified by “people our age” or “at our age.” Those statements are a recipe for disaster, an excuse for lost opportunities.

The question that really sets me off: “How old are you?” Are you measuring my age chronologically, by maturity, spiritually, emotionally, by intellectual acuity or by physical prowess?

By the way, I have successfully guessed a few answers correctly on “Jeopardy!” I am known to be an average tennis player. Do these facts make me a certain age? It’s not as if I go around singing the “Howdy Doody” song!

Why should age matter? I am not an age, and I lie anyway.

I lie about my age on the form every time I go to a doctor’s office. Yes, I lie; whatcha gonna do about it?

At a doctor’s office, I sit and wait on the examination table, which is so high I have to climb up as if I am a little girl sitting in a high chair, in a room so cold I could make a snowman, where the nurse transfers the information from the form I have diligently completed to the computer.

She then asks the same questions I’ve answered on the form. But I am nothing if not polite, so I respond with a little smile.

I’m confused. We send people to the moon but can’t seem to invent an app that would simplify the check-in process and make the information available to any physician we choose.

“The doctor will be right with you,” she informs me. Who is she kidding? The doctor will certainly NOT be right with me. The good doctor might be with me eventually, but not RIGHT with me. Thank goodness I swiped the magazine from the waiting room. I must have something to do while I am waiting for the doctor to be right with me. Usually I can complete an entire novel.

The doctor arrives with my folder of medical information, or does he actually have ESPN the Magazine hidden in the folder? I hear Playboy is passé.

We greet each other; he sits on his rolling, spinning stool, first checking the information on the paper form, then checking the same information on the computer screen.

I see a little smile creep onto his face, and I watch it grow into a guffaw. “Are you mathematically challenged?”

I look at him aghast. “Mathematically challenged?” I say, stalling. “No, I don’t think so. Why do you ask?”

“Well, I see you put your age as XX (you thought I would slip up and divulge the number, didn’t you?); however, there seems to be a 10-year disparity between your actual date of birth and the age you’ve given.”

I can’t believe I just blew my big chance to lie about my age and get away with it. I have a dear friend who gets away with it. Obviously, she is not mathematically challenged.

Every year my sisters, Maggie and Joycie, and I have reunions. We are great siblings and even greater friends. Our respect, love and understanding enable us to create some of the most memorable times.

Each year we try to choose a place that is convenient. Joycie lives out West, Maggie lives up North, and I live in the South.

Last year we were at Maggie’s home, where we cooked, ate, hiked and watched movies every night. One morning as we were enjoying breakfast, I announced that I would like to propose a toast. I requested we change our birth order. We talked about this life-altering topic with the appropriate reverence.

After the coin flip, I became the youngest. I then led us in a toast celebrating the new birth order.

So for the last time, I beg of you, don’t ask, and don’t make me tell a lie!


Shaindle believes age is a state of mind. If you would like to share your age-related stories, she would love to read them.

read more: