Michelle Obama recently turned 50 and headlines around the world declared that 50 is the new 40. Doing the media outlet math, that means that in CNN years, I am really only 33. Result! All kidding aside, I enjoy being in my 40s. Sure, there are bosoms to deal with and middle age spread to contend with. There are the beginnings of aches and pains and myopia and you start to Google strange symptoms on a daily basis. There’s the Medusa like reality of menopause staring down at me. But there are plenty of pros too: wisdom, friendship, being comfortable in your own skin (more or less), more disposable income, better taste in shoes…
Recently a friend and I have been having a “who had the worst hair in high school” contest on Facebook. Even reading between the Aquanet lines, it was hard to declare a winner. The 80s were a decade of big hair, bad hair, or in my case, Robert Smith hair. If you are in your 40s or fast approaching that milestone, chances are that no matter how much you may hate your hair now, it looks better than it did in the 80s. So, you see? Another perk of life in your fifth decade. But this post is not about all that. This post is about the one perk you I bet you haven’t thought about.
We would, like, totally kick ass in a nuclear holocaust or a zombie apocalypse.
Think about it. Not only did most of us watch The Day After and take notes, but there are plenty of tubular things about growing up in the 80s that would serve us well should we ever have to sift through the rubble of an atomic fallout or fend off brain-slurping, undead ex boyfriends.
McGyver. How many times did you tune into McGyver or The A Team and watch them create explosives out of a shoe box, a bobby pin and some baking soda? Or open tins with a twig? Set a successful trap with a sock and a prayer? These are skills that would come in handy during even a generic apocalypse, never mind a zombie one.
John Hughes. Repeated watchings of the entire John Hughes oeuvre would make delegation a snap. If you grew up in the 80s, setting up a hierarchy of jocks, princesses, athletes, basket cases, and brains would be—-well, a no-brainer. Need someone to build a radio out of tin foil and scrap metal? Where’s the brain! Need someone to use as bait to draw those zombie suckers in? Where’s Ally Sheedy when you need her?
CFCs. If you ever kept a can of Aquanet or Stiff Stuff in your locker for between class touch ups, you know the power of hairspray. If you ever had a girlfriend who used so much Rave you could taste it over her Bonnie Bell when you kissed her, you know how potent that stuff is. A can of Aquanet and a lighter can go a long way, my friend.
Rotary telephones, typewriters and checkbooks. If you’re in your 40s, you’ve lived a big part of your life without ‘technology”, (barring Walkman and the Commodore 64) Think about what this means. While a group of young guns is struggling to find their way, not knowing how to navigate without their GPS or Google Map, we could, oh, I don’t know, stop and ask directions.
Optimistic Realism. If you are currently in or approaching your 40s, you grew up in a generation in which anything was possible, by working for it. No relying on nepotism or reality television shows or expectations of entitlement. No Mom and Dad arguing for a better grade on your behalf, no cell phones to get you out of a jam. You had to think on your feet on the playground, write a decent essay to get into college, interview for a job in person. Common sense and accepting responsibility will be key components to surviving the coming of the Walking Dead.
Twiddling Thumbs. In between battles for supremacy, there are going to be long stretches of nothing to do but sit around and watch the paint dry. If you’re in your 40s, you’re used to boredom. Remember, we only had 5 or 6 television channels. And no internet. We’ve done it before, we can do it again. We are ok with long stretches of watching the clouds go by.
The Clapper. Think of the confusion this could cause. Lights on. Lights off. All as if by magic. The undead wouldn’t know if it was Night of the Living Dead, Day of the Living Dead or what.
Brain Power. If you can solve a Rubik’s cube, outrunning a zombie herd is no biggie.
University of Life. Maybe that Bachelor’s degree in Sociology won’t help right away, but a BA from the 80s/early 90s has got to be the equivalent of a Masters today. Someday, when the fallout dust has settled and society is ready to be rebuilt, they’re going to be looking for smarty pants like us. Maybe not sociologists and women’s studies majors, but that Liberal Arts degree could just come in handy.
Longevity. If you grew up in the 80s, you’ve seen so many fads and trends come and go that you are wary of anything that promises instant results. Le Disc, Chia Pets, 3 card monty, parachute pants, neon, Ponzi schemes. So when someone comes up and offers you a device that can track zombie movement, or detect fallout radiation, you’re going to take them with a grain of McGyver-made salt.
Transportation. If you grew up before seatbelts, you know the correct way to ride in the back of a pick-up truck without falling out. You could also quite easily utilize unorthodox methods of transportation to outrun zombies and/or ash clouds: roller skates, Big Wheels, Huffies and BMX racers. Green machines.
Psychology. You’d be surprised what you learned and retained from all those Afterschool Specials. You never know when being able to spot which survivor was suffering from an eating disorder, who came from a divorced family, whose dad was a secret alcoholic might come in handy. Knowledge is Power.
Go out in Style. If you’re minutes away from being caught by a zombie mob and having your brain sucked out of your eye sockets, you have the ability to go out in style. Commandeer a parade float and sing Danke Schoen at full volume. Perform a previously impossible lift at the end of a dance routine. Cycle across the moon. As You Wish.
So you see, though sometimes the thought of getting older makes you maudlin, makes you contemplate your mortality, makes you start counting down your days on this mortal coil, there is plenty to be thankful for. I promise, you will like, totally, be okay.
And, if all else fails, you can Just Say No.
Thanks to Goldfish for the Zombie Apocolypse idea, Mrs. DW for reminding me that “kids, girls in particular, have been told that they can grow up to be whatever they want to be—they’ll just have to work really hard to get there. Empowering kids isn’t new. What’s changed is that the second part of the message has disappeared” And to Betsy for highlighting the “hair” in Harum Scarum.
And a very Happy Birthday to several of you whom I know are fast approaching that 40 year old mile marker.