I turned 45 this month. Coincidentally, so did my character, Jill. Weird, huh?
Until my 40’s, I hadn’t written too many age gags. Here and there, maybe. Now I feel like a good quarter of my cartoons are age-related. In fact, out of curiosity, I did the math on my May strips. Just as I suspected, an average of two per week are age-related. Oy. I sense an ongoing trend.
Here are two recent examples (click to enlarge):
This geriatric-ification of my character was completely subconscious. I didn’t realize I was writing so many of these. But I don’t blame myself. I blame good health.
That’s right. The fact that my middle-agedness is on the forefront of my mind can only be attributed to the betrayal of my aging body. But not the way you think. The fact is, despite a blood disorder and some accompanying brain fog, I feel great. I feel better than I did as a teenager. I’m not bragging, it took great effort to feel this way. In my teens I ate junk food and never exercised (unless you count excessive use of a drawing hand). Today, I’m a health nut and can run circles around my slovenly teen self.
But despite feeling great, I’m…well…45, dammit. That’s such a betrayal — because in my mind I’m still 25. I feel 25. Sometimes, if I step back a few feet from the mirror, squint hard, and hold up my boobs, I almost look 25. Or 35 on a sick day. The point is, half the time I walk around in total denial that I’m middle-aged.
I never thought I’d be so ambivalent about getting older. In fact, I really didn’t think I was until I counted those strips. But I’m glad I can document this in a public way, just as I do about the trials of parenthood. It lets others know they’re not alone.
Also, I have no shame and I don’t mind poking fun of my insecurities. So if you want to feel better about getting older, feel free to laugh at Jill. After all, she’s me.