Editorial: Laugh with the over-the-hill gang

Column By Melissa Martin

Melissa Martin

We spend our younger days climbing up the hill; high school graduation, college or employment, buy a house, tie the knot, kids and dogs. Trade in the sports car for a minivan. 

Eventually, the kids leave home and you’re at the top of the hill — looking over into the valley. After the empty nest grief passes — it’s party time. Bring out the doughnuts for breakfast. Eat cookies before dinner. Cake is the main course. 

Surprise! Turn 50 and your family and friends throw an over-the-hill birthday party with tacky but comical over-the-hill decorations and party favors. You unwrap lots of gag gifts: wind up Racing Grannies, Senior Moments Board Game, Emergency Underpants Dispenser, Golf Club Urinal, or the book “How Not to Become a Crotchety Old Man” by Mary McHugh.

And your oldster pals make up names for street signs: Constipation Station, Laxative Lane, Droopy Drive, Baldy Boulevard, Aging Avenue, Sagging Street, Forgetful Freeway, Potbelly Parkway, Erectile Dysfunction Junction, Hemorrhoid Highway, Bifocal Bay.

Before you know it, you’re rolling down the hill. Or hobbling down the hill. 

Surprise! Turn 70 and receive a retirement party. Your golf cart gets decorated with lights, balloons, and adult diapers. Ensure on the rocks is served because booze makes you snooze. Spiked punch makes you pee. Spicy salsa makes you gassy. 

Thud! You land at the bottom of the hill. Time to fake aches and pains so your adult children will cater to your needs. “I need a vacation to the Bahamas. I need a hot tub. I need a Karaoke machine.” Pretend to be crabby and boss them around. 

Ask for Maxine greeting cards. According to Hallmark, “Nobody knew that Maxine’s crabby character, gracing the covers of a few Shoebox cards, would become famous. But it didn’t take long to see that Maxine’s irreverent quips about aging, the workplace, retirement, political correctness, and of course sex (or the lack of it) had struck a cord.” John Wagner says Maxine was inspired by his mother, his maiden aunts, and his grandmother. 

One blissful aspect of joining the over-the-hill society is the senior citizen discounts. Yippee. Free coffee at some eateries. 

And humor leads to the release of endorphins in the brain; our natural “happy hormone.” So laugh it up — but squeeze your bladder to avoid pee-pee pants. 

“Why is laughter the sweetest medicine for the mind and body? Laughter is a powerful antidote to stress, pain, and conflict. Nothing works faster or more dependably to bring your mind and body back into balance than a good laugh. Humor lightens your burdens, inspires hope, connects you to others, and keeps you grounded, focused, and alert. It also helps you release anger and forgive sooner. With so much power to heal and renew, the ability to laugh easily and frequently is a tremendous resource for surmounting problems, enhancing your relationships, and supporting both physical and emotional health. Best of all, this priceless medicine is fun, free, and easy to use.” www.helpguide.org/.

“Laughter protects your heart. Research has shown that laughter has an anti-inflammatory effect that protects blood vessels and heart muscles from the damaging effects of cardiovascular disease. How this happens isn’t entirely understood, but it seems related to lessening the body’s stress response, which is directly linked to increased inflammation. Regular, hearty laughter should probably be part of every heart disease prevention program.” www.forbes.com/.

So, as you journey down the other side of the hill, keep laughter in your pocket or purse. Hoot and holler with the over-the-hill gang in your neighborhood. 

And it’s better to be over-the-hill than under-the-hill. 

Melissa Martin, Ph.D., is an author, columnist, educator, and therapist. She lives in Southern Ohio.

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