Throughout my life I have heard the exchanges, quips and even some jabs about aging, I started to ponder what some really meant. Even more, I wanted to know if they were really true or had the implied intent.
Too old to cut the mustard – Too old to do what is needed, this came from a very old expression where someone was just right for something or the life of the party “cut the mustard”. Later it was used to relate to work or a job, couldn’t “cut it” or “cut the mustard”. At that point it didn’t matter if you were old or not, but finally it became a way to just say you were too old, “too old to cut the mustard”. But not to worry, as I’ve grown older I appreciate the forgotten part of the expression: “too old to cut the mustard, but you can lick the jar”.
You’re no spring chicken – I’d heard this one and just figured it meant you were an old bird, but I decided to check it out. I found it referred to the times before incubators and before warm hen houses. That meant chicks couldn’t be raised in winter, which at the time was in New England. So the spring chickens were the premium when the traders came around in the summer markets. When a Yankee trader tried to sell off an older bird as part of the spring crop, smart buyers would protest that the bird was “no spring chicken”. Now that we aren’t for sale as such, I’d say I would prefer an older bird, wiser and probably more suited to my desires.
It takes me all night to do what I used to do all night – OK, so if you are old enough to understand the expression, no explanation needed. Just gives punctuation to the expression “quality over quantity”.
Over the hill – I know that for those time before, that once on reached a certain age, it was felt that you went over the hill and the rest was just a decline. As I’ve heard “strength is wasted on the youth”. With the mind as active as ever, sure it would be nice to have the strength to do all the things we used to. I can’t say it wasn’t a climb to get to the top of the hill and I’m not sure exactly what year it was for me that I started down the other side, but I have no regrets. Some say if they could just do it over again, well I have to keep looking forward. The kids are grown and families of their own, my kids kids have kids…. Being a great-grandfather and still feeling young enough to enjoy it is not a bad feeling.
I may be over the hill, but who says we can’t use that hill to power the skateboard or wagon on that trip down. With all the conveniences we have, let someone pull us back up to the top and we can ride down with another.