American psyche

Perhaps you've heard the popular cliché, "Fifty is the new 30." This idea is being propagated, I suspect, by people like me - ie, people approaching 50. It's a nice thought: even though one has been living literally since the world was presented in black and white and there were people in the streets who'd recently come back from defeating Hitler; and even though one has witnessed major sea changes in ethos and zeitgeist in fashion, art and music, and has actively participated in these changes, one is still, in terms of health and mental alertness and readiness-for-life, as fit and wonderful and appealing as a 30-year-old.

Sadly, this is a big lie.

If I'm as fit/wonderful/appealing as a 30-year-old, does this imply that the 30-year-old is as fit/wonderful, etc as a 10-year-old? Extrapolating further, is the 20-year-old as fit/wonderful, etc, as a foetus? The statement "50 is the new 30" necessitates a fundamental disruption in the time-space continuum - requires that, between my 30th and 50th birthdays, nothing deleterious happened: no degradation/ageing of my physical form; no hardening of my heart via bitter experience; no appearance-affecting sadness associated with all the death, illness and futility I have observed over those 20 years.

So, sorry, no: 50 is not the new 30.

Scientists have confirmed this. They have found that 46 is the new 30. Which means, by implication, that 30 is the new 14, 16 is the new foetal stage, and foetal stage is the new 16-years-before-your-parents-even-met stage.

But wait. An update's coming in.

Turns out - sorry for the mix-up - 50 is now the new 34. Wait, no - they're changing it again. Fifty is now the new 39. That's odd: 50 seems to be getting older, more like itself - oh, wow. For a brief second 50 was, strangely, the new 50 but... I have some bad news: 50 is now the new 51! Yes: if you're turning 50, you are worse off than previously believ-

Hang on. This is bad. Fifty is now the new 67! Which means foetal stage is the new early teen years! (On my street is a high school, and a busload of foetuses in leather jackets just showed up, smoking pot!) Things are going downhill fast: 50, it has just been announced, is now the new 97! Perhaps it has something to do with global warm-

Hold on. It seems to be coming back down now... oh, thank God. Fifty is now the new 80... now 72... now 64... 58, 55... Hooray! Hooray! There is dancing in the streets! Even the foetuses are dancing! All is well!

Fifty is 50 again!

We are all, once again, just exactly as old as we are.

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