On Being Past My Sell-By Date At Fifty

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 7.236% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

I’ve dreaded turning fifty for one reason and one reason only:

I no longer fit in the right part of the search form.

See, even though I’m not actively looking for partners at this point, I still cruise OKCupid on a regular basis. It’s my equivalent of peoplewatching down by the park; I see who’s in my neighborhood, what they like, maybe check out a few mutual hobbies.

And at 49, for all of 2019 right up until July third, I had been teetering on the edge:

“Searching for partners between 34 and 49.”

That was reasonable. I mean, it’s a good spread of age. But the people who were in their forties?

Most of them weren’t cool with dating men who were 50.

At least on the form.

You know, and maybe they are okay with dating a man who is, at this point, a decrepit 50 years and two days as of this writing, but… I’m not gonna ask ’em. I’ve long said that if someone expresses a preference, it’s kinda douchey to stick your head in and say, “HELLO MIGHT I BE YOUR EXCEPTION?” I think that people deserve to be taken at their words.

And in respecting that, I have crossed the rubicon.

(Which is, to be honest, the kind of phrase only old dudes use.)

Look, I think age striations are important on some level. When I was 38, I could have snuck into some of the under-30 BDSM get-togethers, mainly because some of the members invited me. But honestly? If there’s a place for younger members to congregate, then congregate they should. So I never went.

And algorithmically, I know I have ticked over into the “less attractive” field. Like I said, a lot of the dating services have predetermined age ranges, and I’ll be standing outside those defaults. In the space of a day, I’ve had one of those arbitrary bureaucracy markers, like the birthday I woke up and discovered I was no longer eligible for all the under-12 freebies you could get at fast food places.

There I was, older, and no wiser.

Yet the thing is, I don’t feel older. I continue to be positively and continually baffled by how old I am. I thought when I’d get to fifty I’d have this Snapchat filter-like thing covering all my memories, so when I looked back to my memories of the 1980s they would be sepia-tinted, maybe speckled with a few film-grain markers – something, anything to signal that this memory was thirty goddamned years ago.

But no. I do not feel like someone creeping up on the senior discount at Denny’s. I feel relentlessly young, my memories of the 1990s music vivid and joyous right up until I’m talking to someone attractive – a full-grown goddamned human who I sorta wanna cuddle with – who mentions yeah, she absolutely loved that song when she was in sixth grade and there I was drinking beer in my apartment listening to that song with my first fiancee.

Where the hell did this age come from?

And I wanna respect the age, I do, because while I don’t think there’s anything theoretically wrong with dating outside your age range, I do think there’s something sad about the number of dudes who date women thirty years younger because they get off on that thrill of having someone think they’re older and wiser and more stable, which is an act they can’t pull on someone else in their fifties.

Which, as someone with social anxiety, is a mild concern – at what point do I Steve Buscemi it up, carrying my skateboard into the school to say “How do you do, fellow kids“?

It’s a weird concern, because yes, there’s always going to be those people who say “Don’t be concerned with how others perceive you! Just live your life!” But “How I live my life” is in part defined by making people I like comfortable around me, and part of that comfort is not necessarily being constrained by my age but at least being aware of it, and not being that guy who’s all like “I live two blocks down and I don’t really use my dick a lot but the women have told me they prefer my mouth.”

And right now marks an algorithmic transition stage. I’m still vaguely perplexed every time I look down and see that my chest has become all white hair – aren’t I healthier than ever now? And yes, I am, and I’m wiser than I’ve ever been (which isn’t to say much, but it’s there), and I’m more confident than I’ve ever been, but I am distinctly not twenty-five any more, or even thirty.

I’m fifty. And when I look through OKCupid, imagining the conversations I might strike up with the people in my neighborhood, that search form thinks that being fifty means one thing.

I guess I’ll have to figure out what fifty actually means by myself.


  1. Gayle
    Jul 5, 2019

    In my head, I’m 17. Then I look in the mirror, and there’s a little old lady with a double chin looking back at me. She startles me every single time.

  2. Anonymous Alex
    Jul 5, 2019

    Have you received your AARP card yet?


  3. Jonathan Jordan
    Jul 10, 2019

    I feel you. I have the same thoughts about being 40. I don’t look, feel, or act how I think someone 40 should. But, I find myself sometimes in a situation where my age comes up in an awkward way and I remember I am not that young anymore. It’s a very chilling feeling.

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