The other day a friend said to me, “Bill, for the last two months all you’ve written about is getting old. To be honest, that TOPIC is getting old. Would you please write about something different?”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Oh, come on,” she replied. “It’s as if you get a cash bonus every time you refer to yourself as a geezer. You’ve written about feeling old at your high school reunion and about being jealous of people your age who can retire. You wrote a column about Bugs Bunny, but described him as a grumpy old man, er, I mean, rabbit. And, of course, recently you shared a bunch of fun facts about your middle-aged anatomy, including that your prostate is the size of a grapefruit. Hey Bill, too much information!”
“No, that was just an exaggeration,” I explained. “I’m sure it’s no larger than an orange. And besides, I was going to write that my hemorrhoids are the same size and texture as gravel, but I decided that was a bit crude, so I went with the prostate joke instead.”
“Eww!” she exclaimed. “Good thing you didn’t put THAT in the newspaper. You’re a good example, Bill, of the old adage: ‘Youth is fleeting but immaturity can last a lifetime’.”
Hmm, maybe she’s right. Maybe I have been focused a little too much on the surprising reality that if someone was born in the 1950s, that means he or she is not a young person anymore. I’m usually pretty good at math, but this one kind of snuck up on me. Without warning the calendar suddenly started saying, “Almost 60 years old, pal!” (Yes, my calendar actually speaks to me.) Then a voice in my head innocently replied, “No way, he’s no more than early 40s, right?” (Yes, a voice in my head actually has conversations with the calendar, often without even telling me.)
Maybe I should spend some time focusing on youthful themes. But what exactly is a “youthful theme”? I could write about some of the things I remember from my childhood, such as rotary dial telephones and using wooden baseball bats without batting gloves. Or I could write about paying 40-cents for a gallon of gasoline and composing term papers by going to the library and looking up stuff in an encyclopedia, rather than doing a Google search from the comfort of your bedroom.
But if I write about those things, anyone under age 50 won’t have a clue what I’m talking about, so again it merely emphasizes my impending geezerhood.
I think the key is that old adage; immaturity can indeed last a lifetime. I have discovered that many middle-aged and senior citizens, especially men, had their senses of humor peak in the 6th grade, and now many decades later, the things that were most humorous to a 12-year-old boy are still at the top of the hit parade. (“Hit parade” being another term that people under age 50 do not recognize.)
For example, you’d be surprised how often the tense atmosphere of an important business meeting can be relieved when you suddenly start talking like Elmer Fudd. (“Shhhh. Be vewy, vewy quiet. I’m hunting contwactors. Heh-heh-heh.”) I’m glad to report that over the years I have personally helped many meetings from becoming too tense. However, based on the trajectory of my business career, maybe that should not have been my sole contribution during meetings.
Well, I certainly don’t want to bore people by writing about the same topic over and over again. And I promise not to dwell on, um, gee, I forgot what the topic was. It’s hard to remember things at my age, you know.