Roxanne Tellier – The Last Taboo


The latest round of celebrity deaths has shaken Baby Boomers to the core. Even if they hadn’t thought of the artist, or listened to their music in decades, the sudden realisation that another part of our youth is irretrievably gone, resonates.

deaths 2016

It’s not the physical body of the artist themselves we’re mourning, though.  It’s how the music made us feel, what it was like to be young and dumb and possessed of hopes and dreams and aspirations, along with a strong and energetic body that could propel us to our heart’s desires.  The music spoke to us and for us; it knew what we were going through, and how that made us feel. That’s what dies when a beloved artist passes …  the feeling of being known and understood, and the belief that anything is possible.

old age not for sissies

If those we grew up admiring are dying, can we be far behind?  Does this mean we’re … old? No man, we’re not old, we’re vintage. Classic. Retro. Seasoned.

“Old.” There’s your last taboo, the last epithet used to put you in the corner with the other discarded toys.  After a lifetime of experience, the shaming of the circumstance of age is meant to strip you of dignity.

We did it ourselves, back in the day. “Don’t trust anyone over 30!” “Hope I die before I get old!” “Better to burn out than to fade away!” oh yeah. That kid stuff felt good to roar. The oldies had the money and power, but we had what really mattered – sex, drugs, frenetic energy and amps that went to eleven.

is there life after youth

Our disdain for those we saw as stodgy was justified.  Politicians were rigid and pedantic. Businesses were run by old, white, men in suits. Boomers’ parents had lived through a depression that depleted them physically, and often emotionally.Many had been in service in WWII or Korea – they’d lost a lot of youth’s gloss by the time they procreated. And for so many of our parental units, the prevailing mores of the time, the sharp division between what males and females were allowed to do, prohibited them from just plain having fun, once they had kids. Grownups weren’t supposed to be silly, after all.

Sadly, many of those parents also didn’t make it to their golden years. A lot of really good dads (and moms) got that gold watch at 65 from the job they’d had since they were kids, and didn’t make it to 66. Their worlds, long circumscribed by the 9 to 5 workday, and how decent people supposedly lived, left them worn out and unable to handle retirement.

Still others, now in their 80’s, 90’s and older, are hanging in, but with failing physical and mental health. Many of us belong to the ‘sandwich generation,’ with kids still trying to find themselves, while we try to help our elderly parents. That’s a tough gig.mature woman judi dench

I had a few rollicking debates this week with people just as committed to their opinions as I am to mine, and – predictably – those who couldn’t actually back up their opinions with facts were quick to anger. The insults flew fast and thick … I was a libtard, a fascist, ignorant, naive. And then, that insult that they thought would be the killing blow … I was just too old to understand.

The trouble with having that ‘weapon’ in your arsenal is that I don’t consider my age to be an impediment. In fact, it’s an enormous asset in understanding the world. When I was in grade school, we actually had to learn, memorize, and study to get to the next grade. There was no pushing along of those who failed to achieve – I knew one guy who stayed in grade 9 for the entire length of my stay in high school! For four long years, he ruled grade 9. He just couldn’t graduate from it.

And spitting “old” at me as those it were a curse doesn’t work for the same reason that I’m not frightened of being told that I’m going to hell when I die. I don’t believe in hell or religion, and haven’t since I was 21. I see age rather like I see religion: some bow down to it and obey its rules. Me, I ignore and abhor the concept of living my life by rules put into place by those who are interpreting the stories that they heard from a friend of a friend who knew this guy… You can keep it. I live by one rule; Do unto others as you would have them do to you. That about covers it.

The idea of aging, as we know it now, is so far out of whack with reality that I find it laughable. I know 80 year olds that could run intellectual rings around much younger, eminent scholars. I also know 35 year olds so enmeshed in living by society’s strictures, that they look and act like crones, bent down with the weight of the world. Baby – life’s what you make it.

I wish to hell that the white and grey peppering my black hair looked as distinguished as those men in the media who’ve aged so very gracefully that they’ve blossomed into sex symbols in their 60’s, but apparently that is not to be. I refuse to let nature take over, so I’ll keep colouring it and wearing it long as long as I can get away with it.  I will never, ever, EVER succumb to the current septuagenarian style of severely short back and sides for both men and women, not for fear of looking ‘old,’ but for fear of appearing like just another clone in an asexual crowd.

aging sophia loren

So, spit your invectives, call me “old,” as though that will shut me up or close me down. You’ll find you’re wasting your time. Aging is now, more than ever, perspective. It’s a gift, denied to many. It’s only a curse to those who feel they’ve put in their time and would like to go, now, please. For those who’ve cultivated a good attitude, solid friendships, a sense of wonder, and a trust in today’s youth, it’s a world where we finally have time to slow down and see without blinders, a world full of endless possibilities,  a world we can watch unfold without being expected to take responsibility for what happens next.

Older people know that how you look doesn’t matter as much as how much you make others laugh.  We see through shallow people, and gravitate to those who enrich our lives through kindred spirits. We dress for comfort, not fashion. We know there’ll always be another Saturday night, so missing a party is no big deal. We don’t have to be up on every musical or artistic flash in the pan … if they’re that good, and we’re both still around, we’ll hear about them eventually. We can say “no,” without worrying if it bothers others, and without explanation.


Aging a curse? Au contraire, mon frère …  without all of society’s rules bogging me down and harshing my mellow, getting older looks far more like a blessing. Something tells me I’m gonna love my second childhood even more than my first.


Roxanne’s column appears here every Sunday 

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dbawis-button7Roxanne Tellier has been singing since she was 10 months old … no, really. Not like she’s telling anyone else how to live their lives, because she’s not judgmental, and most 10 month olds need a little more time to figure out how to hold a microphone. She has also been a vocalist with many acts, including Tangents, Lady, Performer, Mambo Jimi, and Delta Tango. In 2013 she co-hosted Bob Segarini’s podcast, The Bobcast, and, along with Bobert, will continue to seek out and destroy the people who cancelled ‘Bunheads’. 

7 Responses to “Roxanne Tellier – The Last Taboo”

  1. I love your perspective, Roxanne. I have never felt any particular age, and throughout my life, I’ve had deep and meaningful friendships with people much older, and now with people much younger than me. I’ve known people on different intellectual planes who were kind and lovely and very cool to hang with, and smart people who were not so kind or lovely. The best part of ageing, is being able to see through nonsense quickly. I no longer waste time and I don’t care if I’m perceived as being “in a hurry.” I am in a hurry. I’m in a hurry to slow down.

    Funny you mention coloring your hair… Since last November, I’ve been letting my hair revert to its natural color, which is now mostly silver and white. Like you, I’ll never chop my hair off, so I’m just putting up with the now-two-inch-roots. Every month, I have a half inch trimmed off, so in another eight months, I’ll be all set. I fully intend to get better discounts!! No, I shall DEMAND them. 🙂

    • Thanks for your kind words, Virginia! I agree … the best part of aging is seeing people from the inside out. I’m blessed with dear friends, and I will keep on collecting more, because .. damn it! … some drop off along the way, through no fault of their own. The ability to continue to make good friends is a gift, and it’s clear .. you have the gift! 😉
      I’ll not cut my hair either. Tho’ I do threaten every month or two to colour it turquoise. 😉

  2. Ha….. well you know how I feel about the subject. No one, absolutely no one, is harshing this mellow. Betty and Veronica will show those young whippersnappers….. Beautifully stated Rox. Who said “getting old ain’t for sissies.” Doesn’t matter. Love yourself. Love your family and friend. Love life. We may only get one kick at the can so my motto is “kick it for all is worth”….. and don’t forget to dance. You banged the nail on the Arctic Blonde head. 🙂 Love it!

    • Great topic and good timing on being told I am old part ! It’s just my son trying to inform me most of the time that I should be doing this or that !Like eating healthy and exercising I am aware now more than ever of my age because of him and my mirror and aching feet etc.
      I am a survivor ,survived the 70’s barely ,and wish I saw the Eagles live instead of now seeing them and learning about Glenn Fry when he has passed away. Today’s world is much different and I now listen more to my elders and try and learn what makes them keep going. One 99 year old lady customer said she doesn’t know how she is that old, it just is. She will 100 in October !
      Hope I can have the same attitude at her age !

      • you CAN have the same attitude! Just don’t listen to those who “know what’s best.” … they have their own row to hoe. Know yourself, and listen to your body. If it’s telling you you’re good .. you’re good! I firmly believe we all have to take control of our own bodies and minds. What works for one person doesn’t work for the next.
        So .. if you’re feeling good, keep on doing what you’re doing! If not, find out … from someone with a degree .. how you can fix it. And if you can’t .. well, I’m a firm believer in the old saying “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
        cheers! 😉

    • … 😉 thanks, kiddo … Betty and Veronica .. can’t be ignored … 😉
      Still the two smartest in the room …. 😉

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