In 1989, Joanne Palmer left a publishing career in Manhattan and has missed her paycheck ever since. She is a mom, weekly columnist for the Steamboat Pilot & Today, and the owner of a property management company, The House Nanny. Her new book "Life in the 'Boat: How I fell on Warren Miller's skis, cheated on my hairdresser and fought off the Fat Fairy" is now available in local bookstores and online at booklocker.com or amazon.com.

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In 1989, Joanne Palmer left a publishing career in Manhattan and has missed her paycheck ever since. She is a mom, weekly columnist for the Steamboat Pilot & Today, and the owner of a property management company, The House Nanny. Her new book "Life in the 'Boat: How I fell on Warren Miller's skis, cheated on my hairdresser and fought off the Fat Fairy" is now available in local bookstores and online at booklocker.com or amazon.com.

Joanne Palmer: Repeat after me

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Joanne Palmer

Joanne Palmer's Life in the 'Boat column appears Wednesdays in the Steamboat Today. Email her at jpalmer@springsips.com

Find more columns by Palmer here.

— “Awww, your baby is so cute.”

As soon as this seemingly innocuous comment left my mouth I realized, much to my horror, that I had become “one of them.” I had become one of those women who, instead of squeezing the Charmin only want to squeeze and make a big fuss over every baby I see. Not only do I want to squeeze their pudgy little legs and play paddy cake, I also enjoy peppering the parent with all sorts of questions:

“How old is she?”

“Are you getting any sleep?”

“What is her name?”

I remember taking my son to the store as an infant and getting stopped by older women who do exactly what I do now. Most of the time I was so sleep deprived I could barely carry on a conversation, but I did enjoy the fuss being made over what surely was the cutest baby in the whole wide world. I just always thought I would be in my upper 80s before I began doing it myself. (In case my son happens to be reading this, please note I am not ready to become a grandmother.)

This baby obsession is what I now refer to as one of the warning signs you are firmly older than 40. Here are a few others:

■ Security words. If you are frustrated by these, renew your AARP membership. I am referring, of course, to those cockeyed, blurry words that pop up on websites just before you are ready to purchase something. By the time those words come up I am ready to buy my item and get on with it. But no. There are these impossible-to-read words to contend with — the last ones I encountered were something like “heseep” and “togeyo.” I sit there clicking other options until either I can read them or I run my laptop upstairs to my son and let his young eyes deal with it.

■ Reading glasses. Are you wearing them? If so, it’s time to reserve a spot in the Shady Acres Retirement Pavilion. I gave up on “regular” reading glasses long ago because I could never find them. Now I rope a pair of Clics around my neck and I’m good to go.

■ Hearing. Do you have to watch movies at full volume? Do you dread crowded restaurants and bars for fear you will not be able to hear the person across the table? Have you secretly thought the term “hearing impaired” described you? If you answered yes to any of these questions you are on the shadow side of 50.

■ Frisking. Do you frisk yourself? Several times a day — OK, about once an hour — I pat myself down in search of car keys, cellphone and wallet. Car keys, cellphone, wallet. Repeat after me: car keys, cellphone, wallet.

■ Brain farts and senior moments. Do your conversations sound like this:

“I was talking to, um, you know, ah, that person you used to work with ... um ... the one with red hair ... oh wait a minute, I’ll think of it, just a minute, well, hmm ... maybe not ... oh, nevermind, I’ll call you when I think of it.”?

If this is familiar, you may want to review your bucket list.

■ Age games: Does everyone look as if they’re barely old enough to drive let alone perform a medical procedure on you? I thought so.

■ Moaning mornings. Are the first words out of your mouth each morning, “Oh, what did I do yesterday?” Then, after five minutes of gimping around everything loosens up and you are ready for that 50-mile bike ride — just as soon as you can find your cellphone, car keys and wallet.

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