|Kitchen, by Liza Lou (Whitney Museum of American Art)|
“Stay home as much as possible”
— Centers for Disease Control
I’m embarrassed to admit, when first reading that CDC advice for “older adults,” my reaction was to spin a joke, adding, “... groan audibly when rising from chairs, and complain incessantly about how young people today don’t have a work ethic.”
Because older people are already there. Staying home as much as possible is a marker of age as much as the calendar. That, and complaining.
But it isn’t much of a joke if you have to explain. Yes, older adults have caution down cold, no urging from the federal government necessary. We old folks always act like airborne death is waiting right outside the front door. Mortality rears up when we contemplate almost any activity. I have not actually said to my boys, “For God’s sake, don’t go anywhere or do anything.” But I’ve thought it, and opened my mouth to say it, then held back.
You could try spinning that into a virtue. Argue that excess of caution is how you live to be old in the first place. Though cautious myself, I retain just enough trace afterglow of youth to view that as a liability. All this fretting about the weather. My parents do it so much that I flinch at the idea of carrying an umbrella. It seems a defeat; leaving it behind strikes a blow against timidity.
Notice I include myself as “old.” What is an “older adult” anyway? The CDC isn’t much help. A page called “Indicator definitions—older adults” includes both “persons aged ≥ 65 years” (not me) and “Older adults aged 50-64 years” (definitely me). I’m tempted to trot out the “you’re as old as you feel” chestnut. But I knew a man who was 102 and didn’t consider himself old. Spoiler alert: He was.
Events seem to be hurtling past the “older adults” distinction anyway. Literally while I was writing the above, the Sun-Times told employees it is planning a one-day work-from-home test for most newsroom staff.
Yes sir! As someone who has worked from home, to a greater or lesser degree, for decades, I welcome my brethren. Any advice to my newly homebound colleagues? Remember to shower once a day, whether you are going out or not, as an ablutionary gesture toward civilization.
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