I am the Chia pet of sweat. Without warning, I pop out all over, moisture sprouting like seedlings forced into fantastic shapes in spite of themselves.

They say a woman of a certain age gets touchy, but you’d be snarky too if every fifteen minutes you were set ablaze by a former friend, and no icy lake, pond or river is near enough to throw yourself in.

My fiery internal combustion rises up like the life force run amok from somewhere around my thighs until it hits my head and just about blows it off. At night, if I wake up in time, I can fling off the covers before I’m soggy. During the day, I can scramble out of a sweat shirt in seconds.

Red-hot ears and facial skin you can fold are all part of that glorious extravaganza they call aging.

Aging doesn’t scare me, but it does shock me. I believe that’s the main emotion of my generation, cocky baby-boomers that we are. We may not have been the first generation to sing the song, but following generations are mere infants compared to us when playing the full range of harmonies and variations of the tune “That’s not fair!” What do you mean, the laws of nature still apply? But we’re, like, numerous.

Having said that, and barring hot flashes, papery skin and age spots — okay, and wild cravings and cellulite and loss of muscle tone — I don’t feel much different than I did at twenty. A totally wise twenty, of course, one who allows complete bafflement at the turns life takes to wash over her like the aforementioned icy river, until she gets used to it and floats.

And, as the last sentence demonstrates, fifty going on twenty doesn’t much care if she makes sense.

I have thought about old age, as an academic exercise and for planning purposes. A few years ago, I decided my goal for old age was to be a scrawny old lady. You know, the kind who could fit in a thimble, but never quite stops moving until the wind blows her husk into another realm. I could picture myself at family gatherings in a corner, honored but forgotten. Descendents would bring me food, which I would insist on balancing on my bony knee, leading them with nervous glances to gage the distance between the plate and the new carpet, and hope I wasn’t as infirm as I looked. I would overhear comments expressing astonishment that I could continue to exist on a lettuce leaf and weak tea. I would let out an occasional cackle to startle and amaze the young.

I’ve had great hopes that my sweats — or to be more precise, my glow — oh, forget it, it’s sweat — I’ve had hopes that my heated state would lead me to the desired sere and wizened antiquity. But malign forces and their minions — brownies and doughnuts — work against me, and I see an alternate future of round and comfy Nanahood. Children will fall into a drowsy stupor from my soothing granny aura, or learn a fascination with arithmetic when they hug me and estimate the incalculable number of my belly rolls.

Even if I can’t always choose which parts of it I want, and the packaging gets a bit tattered, life is one of those mysteries I can’t put down. I probably won’t rage against the dying of the light, but I may take it out for coffee. A mocha with a couple shots of espresso and a lemon scone, and the light’s probably good for a while yet.

Actually, I feel a lava moment coming on, so I’ll make mine an iced tea. Size? Rio Grande ought to do it.