I turn 60 this month. I can hear you asking yourself: “How can anyone so adolescent be getting so old?” I’ve heard that hundreds of times over the years from my own family.
It’s a legitimate question. After all, everyone I’ve grown up with is living a mature life, with sturdy, well-maintained homes and things that get fixed with something other than duct tape or Krazy Glue.
They have lawns where they cut the grass in these impressive diagonals. (I understand it helps prevent the kinds of clumpy, spotty, Serengeti-in-drought growth patterns that characterize all the lawns I’ve ever mowed.) They rake or blow their leaves every fall. (Thanks to a prevailing wind, the neighbors take care of my leaves for me.)
They caulk annually. They change the oil in their cars every 3,000 miles, and can replace wiper blades without the services of a 16-year-old auto parts trainee working his first day.
They mark the things they put in their freezers with dates, so that when they decide to thaw something—I don’t know, shrimp maybe—they can tell whether it’s still good to eat, as opposed to something frozen during the Carter Administration.
They have a cover for their outdoor grill. (I actually do have a cover for my outdoor grill!) They use the cover to cover their outdoor grill. (Um, they got me there.)
They can record on their VCRs while watching something else on TV. But they also knew to get a DVR or TiVo and stop trying. (I, on the other hand, maintain one of the most extensive collections of blank, blue-screen videos in existence.)
They know the Cubs will never win a World Series, just as their fathers and grandfathers before them knew.
They kept their day jobs. They became Republicans. They know to include napkins when picking up takeout.
And on and on.
In my defense, I’ve managed to get by so far. True, it’s taken a wife who’s remained remarkably youthful in spite of the burdens I’ve so lovingly provided her over the years, and children who realized at a very early age (6, I think) that they needed to become self-sufficient or face adolescence and adulthood believing The Three Stooges is sidesplitting, bend-over, roll-on-the-floor funny, and that Velveeta is a vegetable.
But I have made some accommodations to my advancing years—I’ve had to. It has nothing to do with maturity, though, I assure you. It’s simply about knowing that some things are going on physically that have to be acknowledged—like going to the barber and accepting that most of the work is being done in areas of the head and neck that hadn’t previously grown hair.
Never having been a person who is keenly aware of his immediate surroundings, I’ve taken to double-checking myself to ensure I’ve put on my running shorts in the morning before jogging through the neighborhood. And I’ll accept that if I want to stay up for Monday Night Football next season, I’ll have to make a stronger commitment to taking afternoon naps.
But there are some constants I plan to take along as I proceed gently into that good night, maturity or no maturity—namely a belief in extraterrestrials, cheese, and any movie made with a monkey in it.
Reid Champagne is happy to report that old writers never die—they just forget where they put their commas.