(Betsy Soloway Aisley)

Opinion Please do not put a party hat on my head — and other indignities of old age

Elaine Soloway, a Chicago-based writer, is the author of the memoir “The Division Street Princess” and other books. The Emmy Award-winning television series “Transparent” was created by Soloway’s child Joey Soloway and inspired by their family.

You know the scene: A white-haired woman sits in a wheelchair. Her head lists to one side. There are banners and balloons celebrating her 100th birthday. Caregivers and relatives clap as they help her blow out her candles. And atop the head of this woman — who has survived all these years and most likely buried many dear ones — is a child’s party hat.

That sort of thing makes me livid.

I am 83 and have no idea if I’ll ever reach that three-digit number. But I’m warning my children and friends that if they dare to top my noggin with such a monstrosity, I will use every bit of strength to rise from my chair, grab a cane if there’s one handy and whack them all in the head.

Ungrateful enough?

It appears that with each year added to our age, others want the number to slide in reverse.

Here, for example, is a well-meaning but extremely irritating greeting that has actually been directed at me: “Aren’t you adorable?”

I hear that and look around to see if there’s a newborn or a dachshund nearby. No. It’s meant for me.

Okay. I am a slight 4 feet 9 inches tall, and I do resemble a miniature of a real, live woman. But I have children in their 50s, grandchildren, a master’s degree, four published books, a blog! For goodness’ sake, I was a specialist at an Apple store!

“Adorable” in no way matches me.

“How tall are you?” a grinning stranger will ask. “Not very,” is my innocent quip. But what I’m saying in my head is, “How stupid are you?”

While we’re on the subject of my height, which has slipped from a peak of 4 feet 11½ inches — I do use humor to ask for assistance at the grocery store. “Tall Person,” I will say as I approach someone who matches that description. “Could you retrieve that bottle of tart cherry juice on the top shelf?”

Tall Person will typically look around, point to their chest to confirm I’m speaking to their 6-foot length and answer with a sweet, “Of course.”

But in other contexts, when people try to help — grabbing my arm to assist me across the street or doing the same as I walk down banister-less stairs — things get more complicated.

I abhor the first and welcome the second. I am exceedingly grateful that daily exercise has enabled me to walk miles. You’ll see me striding to Trader Joe’s, backpack bobbing with my steps, as I speak aloud to the deity who has enabled this.

Arm-grabber: I appreciate you. Really, I do. But if we were to race, I might get to the other side before you.

Banister-less steps are a different matter. I had a total hip replacement on my left side in 2012. It was then I learned the comfort and necessity of that wooden or metal sidekick. If it’s missing, and we’re trotting up or down those vexing stairs, I will play sweet grandma and welcome your arm. The point is: Let me ask first.

Whenever I get the chance, I announce my age. I do this because it’s a disservice to us older folks if we hide it. To me, that’s saying we’re ashamed to have lived so long. We’re covering up an important fact, as if we’re descendants of a long line of serial killers.

One way I’m protesting against the popular image of an old person is to be a showoff. On my 80th birthday, to celebrate my achievement of finally learning how to swim (the crawl, with flippers), I got a tattoo on my right biceps. I’d gotten my first on my left — my kids’ names and images reflecting them — for my 60th. But the newest has not shut me up.

Letter to the Editor: I am not adorable. I am accomplished and active.

Any opportunity I get to show off my tattoos — I wear sleeveless blouses year-round — I say, “I got this latest for my 80th birthday!” Then I add: “That was three years ago.” I want to make sure my audience recognizes that people of my generation are still walking and talking.

If you’re a woman of my vintage, I ask this of you: Do not dye your hair. Do not get cosmetic surgery. Do not lie about your age. Be proud of the years you’ve lived, the talents you’ve contributed to your world and the importance of your being a witness to decades of history.

And maybe, get a tattoo.