This morning, Life in the Boomer Lane was momentarily distracted from the disturbing realization that she was out of unsweetened soy milk, by a loud banging on the front door. Coffee cup in hand, she came to the door to see her sweaty, panting across-the-street neighbor standing on her front porch. The neighbor, who we shall call Linda because that is her name, had just finished her daily training for an impending triathlon.
LBL was reminded that the last time, she, herself, was in such a panting, sweaty state was in 1968 and she was backstage at the Newport Folk Festival, in a van with one of the members of the sound crew. Shaking herself from this Stoned Soul Picnic reverie, she fast-forwarded to the present, in which she immediately realized two things: One was that she was still out of unsweetened soy milk. The other was that during the last 5-10 years, more and more boomer women were suddenly competing in triathlons.
In past years, the entry into menopause dovetailed with a deep psychic need to become a “master gardener.” LBL still isn’t sure what this term means but she imagined a post-50, spade-wielding Obi Wan Kinobe, festooned with LL Bean rubber boots and canvas gloves. The garden had morphed from something pretty to look at to the fulfillment of all human desire. But, just as she acclimated herself to hearing her friends speak in rapturous terms about being able to spend entire weekends digging in the dirt while they attempted to avoid sunstroke, LBL realized that other forms of enlightenment were starting to encroach.
First it was yoga: Bikram, Astanga, Hatha, Kundalini, Yin, Yang. Yoga had developed as many methods and techniques as Kama Sutran sex. After all the possible schools of yoga were covered, it was time to focus on the temperature of the room. Along came hot yoga, allowing one to place oneself in such a position as to be able to see one’s own buttocks sweating. Women said yoga centered them, caused them to be at peace with themselves and the world. They walked around in a permanent state of zen. And, because this zen-like state required a new type of wardrobe, Lululemon stock soared.
But yoga and daily forays into the gym turned out to not be the brass ring of human endeavor. Enter the world of the triathlon, allowing boomer women to experience a joy that, until recently, was reserved for testosterone-impacted male Olympians. Swimming, running, and biking have now became one of the basic triads of life, along with food/clothing/shelter, the father/the son/the holy ghost/ and Manny/Moe/and Jack. Weeds rapidly took over no-longer-manicured gardens, while Grandmas began to request bicycle aerobars and Ironman activity bands for Christmas. Master gardeners had become master triathletes. Muscles popped, while roses wilted.
There doesn’t seem to be an end in sight. LBL envisions the day when there will be yoga/triathlon competitions, in which boomers can alternate between the running/swimming/biking phases and even more strenuous aerobic-acrobatic yoga routines. Rounding that out will be an optional live bear-wrestling event. Judges will be a combination of Cirq du Soleil cast members and pit bull trainers.
LBL will watch it all from the sidelines, sipping her unsweetened soy milk-whitened coffee. She takes advantage of both ends of the spectrum. When people ask why her garden has so many weeds, she tells them she is too busy training for a triathlon. When she is asked why she doesn’t compete in triathlons, she tells them she is too busy with her gardening. When they asked why she puts unsweetened soy milk in her coffee, she tells them to mind their own business.