Madonna Turns 50

Published in The Ferndale Record-Journal, August 20, 2008

No doubt you read about it in the news—Madonna turned 50 this week. We may not display our pleasure openly, but I believe this little development puts a grin in the hearts and minds of baby boomers everywhere.

The Material Girl, who has participated in more public writhing than the residents of Reptile World, has officially crossed that line often referred to as “the new 30” by those of us who wish that sentiment was accurate.

Here’s the truth: 50 is not the new 30. It’s 50. And with it comes some stark reality—even for rock stars.

Entering a new half-century doesn’t mean these beautiful people stop rocking. I’m not implying it should. Cases in point: Tina Turner, Sting and Paul McCartney. It’s hard to imagine any of them hanging up the microphone for a life in the Barcalounger. Vital and still entertaining? You bet.

But you have to wonder—is it the same for them as it is for the rest of us? Obviously, not everything’s the same. Money, plastic surgery and personal assistants keep the aging process at bay. But still.

Do famous people get those annoying letters from AARP every month? Do they get bouquets of black balloons for milestone birthdays and maybe one of those novelty mugs for an “Old Fart”?

Do they wrestle with hair in unwelcome places and have to listen a little harder when someone speaks softly? How about birthday banners that refer to them as “Over The Hill.” Does some well-meaning friend drape one of those on the wall?

Maybe. But then maybe, like some people who are not well known at all, they take it in stride and continue to live full and interesting lives because they want to.

In an article by the Associated Press on MSNBC.com, Madonna is hailed as a role model of sorts.

The article states:

‘“I just think she’s awesome,” says Dale Lieberman, a 55-year-old mother of two grown daughters who works at a Marleton, New Jersey, dress shop and seemingly shares little with Madonna, save their age demographic. Yet Lieberman thinks Madonna is a great example of what 50 can be like these days.

“Here’s a woman that’s successful, takes care of herself, looks amazing — and she took the steps to get there. It doesn’t happen unless you take charge.”’

Lieberman goes on to say how much more alive she feels after restructuring her own life circumstances in her 50s that would have been impossible in her 30s.

‘“Sometimes it’s scary how happy and fulfilled I feel,” says Lieberman.’”

I like this because it’s hopeful and optimistic despite the concerns of aging. I also believe it’s true. Mature age can bring magic—even if we don’t have millions of dollars in the bank.

I guess it’s just nice to know that the rich and famous, because they are human, face birthdays like the rest of us. If we’re lucky, we all get older—case closed. And if that sounds like a conundrum, it wasn’t meant to be.

My favorite joke about pop icons of advanced age concerns The Rolling Stones. One comedian said you can always tell which tour bus is theirs—it’s the one going 30 miles per hour in the left lane on the freeway, with the left turn signal always blinking.

Other than laughter, how do I respond to that?

Rock on, my fellow geezers. Rock on.

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