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What is "a certain age"?
Old 07-05-2014, 08:39 AM   #1
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What is "a certain age"?

Probably everyone has heard the term "woman of a certain age," and of late, I've heard "man of a certain age."

The context is always that of "someone older," and often isn't complimentary [aka persons-of-a-certain-age who insist on wearing unflattering clothing], but I can't figure out how old it's supposed to be. Is it just another term for middle-aged?

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Old 07-05-2014, 08:46 AM   #2
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William Safire wrote a piece on this phrase
IN LANGUAGE - A Woman of a Certain Age - NYTimes.com

It definitely implies old enough to not try to pin down an exact age (so uncertain, rather than certain.)
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Old 07-05-2014, 09:18 AM   #3
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Based on that article, it sounds like it used to mean middle age (forties), and now means any age beyond 35. So, an essentially useless term.

Actually, why age is such a sensitive topic has always been beyond me. You live as long as you live, and having people know your age isn't going to make you die any sooner. Besides, no matter what you do, people can tell how old you are by looking at you. All that matters is how they treat you.

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Old 07-05-2014, 10:05 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Amethyst View Post
Actually, why age is such a sensitive topic has always been beyond me. You live as long as you live, and having people know your age isn't going to make you die any sooner. Besides, no matter what you do, people can tell how old you are by looking at you. All that matters is how they treat you.

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But as we have discussed before, after a certain age (!) one tends to be invisible to the younger crowd. I still recall going to a little pub that my wife and I frequent (normally at about 6)---but this particular day we went later for some reason (about 8). The crowd was definitely younger and it was like we were both invisible. I swear someone was going to sit in my lap because they didn't see us!

I agree though about age, it does seem to be a very sensitive topic. My wife and I are both 55 and we own that age proudly! But I know some people who always shave a few years off. Seems silly to me
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Old 07-05-2014, 10:26 AM   #5
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After I got to a certain age, I was PROUD to provide my age to anyone who is curious! I'm 66 and have lived each and every year to its fullest, IMO. I don't care what the younger crowd thinks about my age, because they just don't know any better, yet. I would never try to masquerade as somebody younger than I really am, although I suppose that if a woman thought she was doing that then she would not want to reveal her true age. But let's get real; it's pretty obvious when somebody is trying to do that.

It did occur to me the other day while dressing that when I was around 20, I used to joke that all older women wore purple. When I remembered that, I deliberately chose a purple outfit which hopefully caused some 20-somethings to roll their eyes.
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Old 07-05-2014, 10:37 AM   #6
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W2R, it's a known thing that older women wear purple, and I think it's because of this poem:

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I'm tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.

Jenny Joseph, "Warning" (1961)

Maybe this also explains the "red hat" ladies.
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Old 07-05-2014, 10:42 AM   #7
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You see....there is no hiding one's age, not really. For example, as a young woman, I loathed being catcalled and insulted while walking down the street. I didn't consider it a compliment (as everyone assured me it was), but a way of turning me into streetside entertainment for people whom I never wanted to meet.

But after about age 42, even though I still had dark hair and the exact same figure as before, the harassing cr@p almost abruptly stopped. Onlookers could tell I'd passed some mysterious threshhold of availability; perhaps something about the shape of the face had changed.

I now get a small, mean joy out of looking directly at construction workers and saying "Hi!" just to see them try to pretend they don't see me. Of course, some of them respond with a very civil "Hi" which is also nice!

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But as we have discussed before, after a certain age (!) one tends to be invisible to the younger crowd. e
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Old 07-05-2014, 11:13 AM   #8
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I get that "Sir" business.

I went through a drive-thru a while ago, and the kid at the window fell over himself with it. I think he called me "Sir" 4 times while getting the food!

So I started calling him that too, and we had, basically, a "Sir" ping-pong match
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Old 07-05-2014, 11:24 AM   #9
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Actually, why age is such a sensitive topic has always been beyond me. You live as long as you live, and having people know your age isn't going to make you die any sooner. Besides, no matter what you do, people can tell how old you are by looking at you. All that matters is how they treat you.
I think people are sensitive about age for a few reasons. A key one is that so often people make assumptions about people based upon age. For example, I've sometimes had people assume that because of my age I don't understand computers or technology. But, I've always been an early adopter of technology and their assumptions are entirely correct. As for people knowing how old you are -- I am much better at it now than I used to be. Now that I'm 60 I realize that when I was younger I was often wildly off on what ages I thought that "older" people were. I notice with my kids (they are college age), they tend to not be very good at guessing age. Also, many people tend to be fairly shallow about judging age. That is, they would easily think a woman who colors her hair and is well dressed is probably 10 years younger than a woman of similar age with gray hair who isn't as well put together.
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Old 07-05-2014, 11:33 AM   #10
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I get that "Sir" business.

I went through a drive-thru a while ago, and the kid at the window fell over himself with it. I think he called me "Sir" 4 times while getting the food!

So I started calling him that too, and we had, basically, a "Sir" ping-pong match
I ask them if they spell it "Cur"................blank looks abound.
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Old 07-05-2014, 11:34 AM   #11
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I learned that lesson early. When I was 18, I was one of the few old enough to serve beer at the beach where I worked in the summer (in those days it was 18 in NY).

I routinely carded customers with no problem, but one day I carded a guy who was absolutely incredulous. He showed me his driver's license and he was 29. That made me realize just how hard it can be to guess someone's age.
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Old 07-05-2014, 12:51 PM   #12
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I've never minded being called "ma'am," and it never makes me feel old. Then again, I came of age in the South, which may have had something to do with it.

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I get that "Sir" business.

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Old 07-05-2014, 12:55 PM   #13
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My husband worked at a Jersey Shore hotel during college summers. One of his tasks was to stand watch at the hotel bar for teenagers trying to come in off the beach. Since the young ladies wore bathing suits and didn't have anyplace to keep a driver's license he had quite a time trying to decide whether they were 21!

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I learned that lesson early. When I was 18, I was one of the few old enough to serve beer at the beach where I worked in the summer (in those days it was 18 in NY).

I routinely carded customers with no problem, but one day I carded a guy who was absolutely incredulous. He showed me his driver's license and he was 29. That made me realize just how hard it can be to guess someone's age.
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Old 07-05-2014, 07:16 PM   #14
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Recently the waiter at a Swiss Chalet restaurant addressed me as "dear". It's a shame I won't be going back, because I like their chicken.

Memo to all waiters: My name is NOT Dear!
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Old 07-05-2014, 07:49 PM   #15
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I ask them if they spell it "Cur"................blank looks abound.

Sounds like someone served in the military.


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Old 07-05-2014, 09:01 PM   #16
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Well I am not up with today's terminology. Recently my GF was walking with a male coworker to lunch and she told me a street kid approached the man and said "OG do you have a cigarette I could bum off you." My GF said he was mad, not about asking for a cigarette (which he doesn't smoke) but the OG reference. Of course I was clueless to the term but it is urban slang for "Old Guy". He told my GF he doesn't think he is old at 50 something.


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Old 07-05-2014, 09:11 PM   #17
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Recently, i read that WHO groups 65+ into elderly and i was bummed.

About a week later, i shared with my DH that a guy at the gym had glanced at my chest. (I am 58). For decades, I growled at that---furious, how DARE that jerk?!?!? ---and suddenly, i am grateful? That a guy glanced at my saggy chest?!?!!? I don't color my hair, don't wear makeup, but apparently still have identity/aging issues.

It's OK.....i hope. Probably the last time and he was most likely a perv. There you go. : >
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Old 07-06-2014, 06:37 AM   #18
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AARP's membership age is 50, IIRC.
So I guess that was considered the official beginning of old age in at least somebody's eyes.
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Old 07-06-2014, 08:57 AM   #19
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Where did the punk think he was, the 1960's? Counting on random strangers to carry cigarettes went out with ashtrays in cars.


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a street kid approached the man and said "OG do you have a cigarette I could bum off you." k
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Old 07-06-2014, 09:16 AM   #20
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Runners don't mind disclosing their age, or getting older. Many races have awards or at least results by age group, and results often show age, so there are no secrets.
When someone hits a landmark age such as 40, 50, 60, etc, they are often congratulated for getting into a new age group--unless it's known there are a couple of older fast locals they are now competing with. And sometimes you look forward to that fast 49 year old aging out of your bracket. I ran a smaller race a few years back where I finished 2nd in the 45-49 group, would've won the 40-44 group, but would've been 4th in the 50-54 group. Also, with advancing age you get a slower qualifying time for the Boston Marathon, so some will just hope to keep their current marathon time for another couple of years to qualify. There's even an age grading calculator some use to adjust results by time to supposedly evenly compare runners of various ages.
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