I’m 39 and Holding!
My recent birthday dragged “double nickels” kicking and screaming into my psyche. Now, several recurrent thoughts occupy my feeble mind: Sandra Bullock in a wet tee-shirt (although I’ve forgotten why); honey-flavored pitted prunes (obviously, a desire to remain a regular guy); and, a late night snack with Jack Kevorkian (excuse me, Doc, is that Grey Poupon in your bag?). This sudden awareness of mortality bites like a pit bull in a post office.
In a positive vein, men on both sides of my blood line typically live full lives. Grandpa McCormick died at 93. Grandpa Noble at 95. Averaging these, I figure I’ve got 39 years left. And if these are Jack Benny’s 39 years, there’s nothing to worry about. However, a dichotomy exists in our approach to aging today. Supposedly, we’re living longer. Heaven forbid if that’s the case! If heredity has my clock wound to somewhere between 93 and 95, my greatest fear is that the coming 39 years will be dedicated to avoiding things that might kill me: Fat, cholesterol, sodium, nicotine, alcohol and caffeine.
Those ingredients my grandfathers didn’t know could kill they didn’t. We’re not good at tolerating senior citizens today. Even though they represent one of the fastest growing market segments in the United States, and control billions of dollars’ worth of discretionary resources. And, how have they managed to amass and control such great wealth? That’s a ‘ve stopped spending it on rich food, good booze, cigarettes and cigars, designer coffee, and all the other stuff that could kill them before they hit 100.
Today, we honk at older folks who act confused at stoplights, turn too sharply, or poke along below the speed limit. We raise our voices when they don’t readily understand what we say. We become impatient when they can’t make up their minds over chocolate or vanilla. And, we laugh off the compulsive rituals they’ve followed for most of a century without thinking twice about their actions. Why do we do these youngsters schlepping through Middle Age? Perhaps to convince ourselves we’re not like that; although we’re headed in the same inevitable direction. We’re probably reacting out of fear.
We can’t imagine what we’ll be like as we approach Old Age, and are afraid we’ll become one of THEM. But is that all bad? After all, they’re alive. More than that, they’re living. When I see an older couple walking – close together, hand in hand — she might take her purse, give him a shot alongside the head and say: “Straighten up, you old fool!” This doesn’t concern me. Although, that’s probably my wife and me in 39 years. That image makes me sad. apprehensive. remorseful. Such an image encourages me to embrace seniority, not sulk from it. wife hit double nickels nine months before me!