What Happens After 40?

Purim

The Jewish holiday of Purim is coming up in less than a month. Purim is a pretty fun holiday. Not every holiday has dressing up in costume, giving gift baskets of treats, and getting drunk as part of its ritual observances, but Purim does.

It’s considered traditional to make and eat hamentaschen, triangular filled pastries, on Purim. Photo by Anton Uniqueton from Pexels

So, it makes sense that I’ve started receiving emails about Purim events geared for Young Professionals. I’m on a lot of mailing lists and received several emails about events like this. And all of them, after promoting the awesome music and food and alcohol and costume contests that they were going to have at their event, had this:

For 20s and 30s only.

Email/Flyer for Purim events I’ve been invited to

Now, this isn’t a totally ridiculous guardrail. If the organizers were to increase the upper age limit, they’d wind up with much older men creeping on the costumed young women half their age (keep in mind that “Young Professionals” effectively = “Singles”, although they generally won’t kick out the couples).

Hey, some old people just want to party! (I’m very much a “Big Party Judaism Extrovert“, and I suspect I’ll be like this stock photo guy some day.) But I get that the organizers are worried about scaring off the 20-something women. Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

And Husband and I are both still within that age range (for now) so we’re invited. I shouldn’t complain, right? But it begs the question:

What happens after 40?

Well, the assumption is that after 40, you’d be more interested in the regular Purim service geared more towards families. That’s the trajectory most people’s lives follow, so this makes sense from the organizers’ point of view. Actually, if you think about it, so much of community is built on assumptions about who we are at certain ages – marital status, career/financial status, etc.

Except that a lot of people don’t fit those assumptions. There are singles, divorcé(e)s, widow/widowers in the community. There are people in marriages and homes that look good and socially acceptable on the outside but on the inside, that is far from the case. There are people who don’t have the means (financial, time, skill, etc.) to contribute in the way the community hopes and expects, and yet are still a part of it. This isn’t new. It’s always been unfortunate that the community ignores or mistreats those that don’t fit the mold. But it isn’t new.

***

I’ll probably go to one of these Young Professionals’ Purim events. It makes sense. The event is fun, and I am invited. It’s a very conditional invitation, but I meet the conditions.

But it feels like a countdown. To be honest, everything these days kind of feels like a countdown.

Everything feels like a countdown. Photo by Corina Rainer on Unsplash

64 comments

  1. One of the many “artificial” reasons that getting old sucks. You are stigmatized, ostracized, sometimes just despised because people look at you and assume old. While there are some truths in the stereotypes, sometimes there are not. What you are or are not invited to often seems arbitrary. You bring up some very good points in your discourse.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Will you go in costume? There are so many cultural presumptions that persist in all communities that are not applicable or pertinent these days. What happens when you turn 40? You turn 40. You will be a little older, a bit wiser, and SOL on being invited to the under 40 Purim parties.

    Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve never been into costumes. I hated Halloween when I was a kid because I didn’t like the costumes, and trick or treating was out because all the houses were a mile or more apart back then. I wore a traditional costume when I performed with the group for the Canarias when we lived in Spain, but that was a culture exception, which I suppose is cultural appropriation today. Here’s a post on T&L Photos with photos from when we were gypsies: https://photos.tandlphotos.com/blog/2015/7/a-band-of-gypsies

        Liked by 1 person

        • These photos are priceless. Love the costumes and the curly hair!
          I’m not the most inventive when it comes to thinking up costumes, but I find it fun and entertaining to do for an occasion. I won’t go all out, but I’ll do something. Husband will get into it too. I’ve done his makeup a couple times for costumes before. That was entertaining.

          Liked by 1 person

          • The Spaniards used to tease me about looking like Jesus. I never wore my hair loose during Semana Santa. I didn’t want the Penitentes to crucify me. You must have had fun doing your hubby’s makeup.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Haha! Yeah, I can see the Jesus vibes.

            Husband went as The Joker one year and I did his makeup. It wasn’t especially good as I do not really have makeup artistry skill, but Husband is a good model so he pulled it off. Someone suggested I should offer my makeup services, and I was like, “This is literally the only look in my ‘portfolio’. So yeah, if some poor bride wants to look like The Joker at her wedding, she can give me a call!”

            Liked by 1 person

          • Do you wear makeup? With all the performing we did when our daughter was young, she became really adverse to makeup. It’s only been the last few years that she will put on makeup for everyday wearing, and that’s light. Laurie never wore makeup until we started performing. Now she does a little makeup every morning. I never did make up, even when we were performing. These days I’m doing good to take a shower.

            Liked by 1 person

          • When I’m motivated and not running late, I do like to wear makeup. How much is heavily dependent on time, motivation, and skill. I’ve got a steady enough hand for liquid eyeliner, lipstick (arguably pointless now with all the pandemic mask wearing), and mascara, but I do not really know how to apply eyeshadow or anything that requires the use of a brush. I also don’t feel like I’m great at picking the right shade of foundation/concealer and applying it properly. I once had a coworker tell me as diplomatically as she could that I “needed more concealer.” (I guess that’s one of the nicer ways of telling someone that she looks like shit).

            “Performing” = ballroom dancing?

            Liked by 1 person

          • Yeah. That’s rough on the concealer comment. We did Flamenco. We had a small flamenco troupe and we used to perform a lot from 2000 to around 2006. Then school, work and other things got in the way.

            Liked by 1 person

          • BTW Tristan cut my hair last week. She tried out something she saw on youtube. She shaved my hair close around the sides and back and left it long on top like a wide Mohawk. Originally she wanted to leave bangs hanging over my eyes like Mustang Hazel (https://wp.me/p1yQyy-7cP), but I had her cut them back to the top of glasses. It bugs to have hair hanging in my eyes. She and Laurie like the cut, which is all that matters. Folks at the offer aren’t so sure as the comments have been “Interesting haircut!” That’s about like “you need more concealer!” I’m pretty sure you look great with or without makeup.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Did Tristan give you little pony tails like Mustang Hazel too? That would be a very interesting look. Anyway, I’m sure it looks great. Tristan seems very talented. And worst case, hair grows back. My brother-in-law and husband have experimented with home haircuts during the pandemic. Some were successful, some were…interesting, shall we say, but several weeks later they were fine. Actually, Husband has gotten much better at cutting his own hair. I would never let him anywhere near mine (I went to the salon as soon as they reopened in my state) but he’s managed to do a pretty good job on his own hair. The concealer comment was less insulting than my comment makes it out to be, but I can’t give the work context here. You’ll have to believe me that she really meant well. She was actually one of the nicest people I have worked with.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Are you ready for this? Laurie made me cut her hair for years. Cutting a woman’s hair when you are not trained is one of the most stressful things you can do. Even though hair grows back, if I had screwed it up, I would have never heard the end of it. I told Laurie that any sensible woman does not allow her husband near her hair. You are a sensible woman. I asked my ex-barber if he cut his wife’s hair. He said “Oh lord, no!” I finally got Laurie to go to the stylist. It cost $400: https://photos.tandlphotos.com/blog/2017/8/hair. Well worth it, in my opinion. Tristan and her friend died my hair blue in 2016: https://photos.tandlphotos.com/blog/2016/6/im-blue

            Liked by 1 person

          • Laurie is a very trusting woman. I cannot fathom asking my husband to cut my hair and then still being married to him afterwards. Also, my husband would never agree to do this. Laurie seems really happy with her look. I like the blue hair. I’ve been wanting to dye my own hair a funky color – think bright pink, purple or red or some combination – for years, but I never had the guts to do it.

            Liked by 1 person

          • You should go for it. Bright pink sounds good. I just remembered a hairdresser joke.

            A woman was ging to Rome and went to the hairdresser. She told the hairdesser she was going to Rome and the Hairdresser to her Romes the worst. Too many people, you can’t see anything for the crowds, etc. It’s not worth it. When the woman got back from Rome, she went to the hairdresser again. The hairdresser asked how Rome was and didn’t suck like she said? The woman told her not at all. It was fantastic, they got to see everything, played in the Trevi fountain and when she went to the Vatican, she got the winning ticket for a visit with the Pope. The hairdresser was a bit astonished. She asked what she talked to the Pope about. The woman said life, current events and a little theology. She told the woman when she was ready to leave the Pope whispered in her ear. The hairdresser said “Really? What would the Pope want to whisper to you?” The woman answered, a simple question. The hairdresser asked what the question was. The woman said “The Pope whispered, and I quote; ‘Who fucked up your hair?'”

            Kind of long for a lame ending. You should go with bright pink.

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          • I’ve heard that hair dresser joke.

            Re: funky hair color, I tend to always keep my eye open for other jobs, so I was often interviewing and I didn’t want to risk it. I might be able to get away with looking like a My Little Pony, even on an interview, but I just didn’t want to risk it.

            Maybe one highlight of aging is when you get to the stage of “fuck it” and quit caring what people might think and just do what you want anyway because life is short.

            Liked by 1 person

          • That old joke gets around. Understandable on wanting to present a “normal” look, whatever that might be these days, for interviews.

            Liked by 1 person

        • I should add that Purim is a little like Halloween in the costumes aspect. But the emphasis is more on giving out treats and actually there is also a commandment to give a specific amount of charity. One will often receive treats as well, but the focus is more on the giving. More like the reverse of trick-or-treating in that sense.
          Yeah, trick-or-treating doesn’t really work when the houses are so far apart from each other.

          Liked by 1 person

          • I like the giving aspect more than the receiving. Now that there are more houses and kids, we still don’t get trick-or-treaters. Our property is too scary. We lived in town when we were first married. There were lots of kids in the hood, so we thought that equaled lots of trick-or-treaters. Wrong! We bought a bunch of candy and no trick-or-treaters showed up.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Out here, the schools offer Halloween parties, the malls offer trick-or-treating from store to store, and churches offer trick-or-treater from car trunk to car trunk. Apparently it’s still popular to go from house to house in what we call the Heights. I’ve heard people take their kids from the valley to the heights to trick-or-treat.

            Liked by 1 person

  3. I am a buck short of 77. I am thrilled to be alive. The NYT obituaries are strewn with people who didn’t last as long as I did. I have no problem missing young people’s parties though I love weddings because they are cross-generational. My wife knows I haven’t strayed or made a complete fool out of myself in all of our 45 years together, so we have a ball at weddings. I am sad for those old guys who are predatory with younger women. It’s something they should learn to control. I have a different set of problems with which I must cope. We are all just trying to get by, by the grace of God. May He guide our journeys and make us whole.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. That’s horrible to be so discriminatory with an invitation!! AAUGH!! I hate it when people aren’t inclusive! Well, let me tell you that I’m 44, and my life is very unconventional. [I just happened to glance around at my rainbow environs just now.] I hate the confining ideas that you should be focused on certain things at a certain age! Like it’s all a contest to conform! AAUGH!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve seen events for older singles advertised from time to time in my community. I have no idea what they are like, as I’m not in my 40s and 50s and not single. It’s definitely better that we have them than not, but I’m the wrong person to ask about whether my community is meeting the needs of the older singles.

      Liked by 1 person

        • Husband and I (childless and not happy about it) are currently under 40 (barely) and thus, still welcome at the young professionals’ Purim events. Even though we aren’t single, we’re still welcomed and we enjoy it. I was reflecting on the fact that in the not very distant future, we will no longer be welcome at these events for 20s and 30s, and yet, there won’t be an alternative that’s a great fit either, since I do not have a ton of confidence that children are ever going to happen and that the family-centric events of Purim will be a good fit. I could have explained this better.

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  5. Re countdown, I think the trick is to stop counting. I have to say that around 40 was when it began to slowly dawn on me that I was going to get old. I was working with a group that included some pretty young guys, at the time, maybe in their twenties, and I was gradually pushed out of their circle. I’m not sure what the trigger is, but part of it had to be my own attitude towards them in turn. But whenever that starts to happen to you, you’ll feel it, I’m sure, and it’ll be easy. Just be ready and willing to make the changes or you’ll be unhappy. Own your dotage!

    That’s my wisdom-of-the-day from an old guy, as our pedantry is now somewhat tolerated.

    Liked by 1 person

    • “I think the trick is to stop counting.” – this is a very good point.

      I think you’re right that there is a natural transition when at a certain point, you don’t want to hang out with people that much younger than you either. Unless it’s in a professional networking context with people just starting out in my field, I don’t really have anything in common with anyone in their 20s either. I also don’t have anything in common with people my own age either, but that is a different problem.

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      • I’ve heard it said that we generally consider people our “peers” if they are within 15 years older and 15 years younger than ourselves.
        I think not having everything in common with their peers is what makes people interesting.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Eh, maybe? That’s like a 30 year range though. I’m not sure I’d really consider either the 21-year-olds or the 51-year-olds to be my peers. I had a really good friend who was 20+ years older than me, and we were close, but I don’t know that I thought of her as a “peer” exactly. Friend, definitely (and her death was devastating), but peer, no.

          Liked by 1 person

          • I think the range would get larger as you get older. Starting with, like, 1 year up or down at the age of seven. I thought about this–the rule of thumb. may have made more sense in an earlier, more agrarian society. Today, there are such large cultural differences between age groups it’s hard to say.

            Liked by 1 person

  6. I hear you. I don’t know what happens once you hit forty, other than that they assume you have kids and go to family events instead of young people’s events. My community is small, so we generally ONLY do family things. Sometimes I go for a bit and leave when it gets too much for me. It would be better if E was here and we could do things together. But to be honest, Purim with autism and social anxiety (and sometimes depression, although not this year) is often more of a chore than a fun event and I’m already feeling a bit anxious about it.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I find myself less down about Purim this year vs. last year, but it’s not my favorite holiday. I don’t love the young family-centric stuff. I don’t even like the egalitarian communities I typically go to because I get a lot of pressure to read Megillah and I don’t really know Megillah trope well enough to feel confident about doing this. Reading Megillah also brings up memories of my friend who committed suicide which is another reason I do not enjoy doing this. I mean, I’ve done it, but I don’t like reading Megillah at all.

      We probably have a Purim seudah invite for this year, so I guess we’re set on that too, but I just feel kind of unsettled about Purim. I hope it works out for you and that you have a Purim celebration that is enjoyable and manageable.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, it doesn’t help that I rarely get invited to a seudah, and my parents often work and don’t do much of a seudah either, so I’m left doing it alone. I think I might have to be at work this year, and I’m not sure if that will be good or not.

        I can understand Megillah leining issues, it strikes me as the hardest thing to lein, given the need to get every word perfect AND audible despite all the noise, plus it’s so long and without a break.

        Liked by 1 person

        • In the egalitarian world we’ll typically switch leyners every chapter so I wouldn’t even be leyning that much but I still hate it.

          Working on Purim is good and bad. There was one year when I was quitting one job and starting another over Purim and I pretty much missed out on Purim entirely because it was so chaotic. Not the best Purim I’ve ever had, but strangely not the worst either.

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  7. After awhile, it becomes more difficult to relate to adults who are younger than us. It can be a hard pill to swallow for many of us. It’s just another stage in the process of living. I ponder this on the brink of my seventh decade on this planet.

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  8. Everything feels like a countdown! How true. You are right when you say that we are bound my notions that have been created and if we don’t fit within those parameters, we are as good as outcasts. I remember when house-hunting with my partner very few, practically nobody, was willing to give a house in a decent gated community to two men for we aren’t the traditional family as one expects. So much so that a certain agent was unwilling to even show a house citing it is too expensive, you won’t get it, the owners shan’t give it to you although there were no harm in looking. The moulds that we make!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I had a really hard time with this even in my 30s. The 30s events for young professionals were clearly marketed at singles events. And even the non-singles events, even when there weren’t children, there were basically two conversations happening. If they knew you, “how are your kids?” (long update follows) and if they didn’t know you, “Do you have kids?” or “What do you do for a living?” I stopped going during the height of my infertility treatments and if they’d not been ultimately fruitful, I’d probably still not go. It’s awkward. Super awkward. And since I wasn’t child-free by choice, it was painful as well awkward.
    While I say that, though, I understand that no one space is going to be perfect for all of us.

    Liked by 1 person

    • There’s awkwardness now too. Like the fact that we’re so much older than everyone else at a young professionals’ event. Or the time that a new young couple with small children moved to the area and some other congregant was like, oh, you must go meet other young people, here’s JYP and they were all like, “oh do you have kids too and what are the schools like here” and I was not even a little interested in making conversation with these (probably nice) people. Everyone assumes we’re happily child-free and it’s not true. No space is going to be perfect, true. It just more insulting when the places that I thought were perfect really aren’t.

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  10. As we’re watching Expanse, we’ve been sharing “lessons” we’ve learned from it. It’s a show set 4 centuries in the future, and guess what? It’s still us vs. them (it’s actually one of the main themes). So whoever “us” is now, it looks like we’ll find a “them” in the future. Is there always a good justification for those guardrails? Is age, even with the seemingly reasonable justification of “keep the old lechers out” a good one? Is there a shortage of young lechers? 🙂

    Not sure if it serves as comfort to all the “them” that are dis-invited, but, as Groucho Marx said “I don’t want to belong to any club that would accept me as one of its members.” 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • I hear you on the “us” vs. “them” dynamic. Even amongst “young people”, Gen Z and Millennials don’t have that much in common with each other. And 20-year-olds justifiably don’t want to hang out with the aging Millennials who are now about 40. The age-gating doesn’t necessarily stop the creeps, as there are plenty of creeps of all ages.

      Ah. classic Groucho Marx!

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