Wednesday, July 16, 2008

What a Drag It Is Getting Old

I recently "celebrated" yet another birthday. I've had lots of them.

There comes a time in everyone's life, I suppose, when one has to face up to the fact that they are no longer "cool", if indeed they ever were. These days I feel that I'm about as cool as Al Gore. I strongly suspect that the fact that I can't come up with a more descriptive word than "cool" says a lot.

Back in the very early '70s (a particularly ugly decade), I dressed as my peers dressed, talked as my peers talked, and did much that my peers did. When I've seen pictures or had discussions about my life in those days, I wonder how I or anyone could have ever thought it was anything other than ghastly. Imagine purple shirts with puffed sleeves, vinyl vests, boots with 3-inch heels over calf-height that zipped up the sides. Add these things to braces on the teeth, eyeglasses, a teen-ager's moustache, and a Michael Nesmith hairstyle, and you get some image.

Pity me.

And yet, somehow, it was still cool.

In addition to the painful reminiscing, I keep finding myself exposed to more and more fresh reminders of my advancing age and looming mummyhood. I recently read (and replied to) a comment on a blog from someone who was lamenting the fact that they were "getting old" because they were celebrating their last birthday that started with a "2". I'm assuming here that they aren't 299. As if that wasn't bad enough, one of this person's readers commented that they witnessed a birthday party and caught themselves thinking about how nice it was for the young people, "like a 50-year old".

Argh. Yeah, we 50-year olds sit around in our rockers with our shawls over our laps and toothlessly smile down at the young 'uns while waiting for our meds to be delivered.

A lonely man cries for love and has none.
Senior citizens wish they were young.
-Moody Blues

For the first time in my life, there exists the possibility that the next President of The United States will be younger than me.


If I was ever cool, I'm not now. Aside from the oft-cited aches and creaks in my body, here's how I know:

1) I am in possession of not one, but two VCRs, one of which is so old that it will not accept a date past 2007. It still works. This is a form of planned obsolescence that wouldn't have occurred to me.

2) When I last bought a cell phone, I told the 8-year old sales clerk that I wasn't interested in a camera, watching movies or television, fancy ring tones, built-in satellite dishes, flashing lights, tasers, or hurricane tracking radar. I just wanted a phone. After explaining that a few more times, I was shown several models that didn't have very good cameras, or only allowed limited TV reception, or fired only the weakest of laser beams, but I stuck to my guns. There was exactly one to choose from. I suspect that I won't even have that option when the time comes to replace it. The sales clerk still talks about to me to his little friends over graham crackers and cocoa during nappy time, I'm sure.

3) I own a large drawer full of cassette tapes loaded with some pretty cool classic rock music. The only method I have of playing those tapes is a boom-box that stays in a closet in the guest bedroom.

4) I own a boom-box.

5) My hair would have been considered "cool" in 1969, except that now it's got so much gray in it that it couldn't have been cool even then. So the lack of coolness of my hair now spans generations.

6) I have a full-time job.

7) I own a house in the suburbs (that is, the bank owns about 75% of a house in the suburbs and my wife and I each own 12.5%).

8) I drive an Oldsmobile.

9) I don't understand much of today's music, and as such sometimes catch myself making crotchety old-guy statements about it.

10) A disturbingly high percentage of my sentences these days start with some variation of "I remember when..." followed by some statement about how much something used to cost, how difficult it used to be to perform some task, or how I was able to do something with relative ease (and, *ahem*, frequency). Why I feel compelled to impart this information is completely beyond me, and so far people have been very tolerant, often patting me on the head and trying to appear interested while looking at their watches before telling me that visiting hours are nearly over.

He's a well-respected man about town,
doing the best things so conservatively.
-The Kinks

There are some old guys that I think managed to stay cool despite their advanced years. Jerry Garcia, George Carlin, Timothy Leary, Allen Ginsberg. What do these cool old guys have in common? That's right. All dead. But they died cool. I don't see that happening for me.

Then there are the guys that I thought would be cool forever. Have you seen Eric Clapton or David Bowie lately?

These guys could be investment bankers, right? Are they still cool? Hard to say.

Still and overall, despite my advancing years and dwindling coolness, I'm basically a happy guy. I'm happily married to a fabulous woman, I'm fairly comfortable, I'm healthy, I eat well, I get to travel, all things that a lot of guys only wish for. I guess I don't actually have to be cool for the rest of my life, especially if it means dying early.

So just stay off my lawn. And if that Frisbee comes in here one more time, I'm keeping it.


Bilbo said...

Hey, as one Old Fart in Training to another, getting old is cool by definition. If nothing else, it really beats the alternative.

Gilahi said...

I'm not sure that being considered a cool old fart by another old fart is necessarily a good indicator. Thanks for the encouragement, though.

GreenCanary said...

If it's any consolation, I think old men are hot. Me-ow! And your phone/taser idea? GENIUS! I want a phone/taser! I wouldn't mind tasing a few people.

Gilahi said...

When you say "old men", I would presume you mean the Harrison Fords and/or Sean Connerys of the world. Most of us don't fall into those categories.

And the phone thing? I would taser myself in the ear. I just know I would.

J-Money said...

Yep, I'm with GreenCanary. Give me greying temples and a willingness to quote CSN and/or Y lyrics any damn day.

Also, wasn't Mike Nesmith the one with the toboggan? Here's hoping you're no longer using him as a style icon...

Gilahi said...

I can certainly do the CSN/Y thing, but I listened to these lyrics today that I should've included in the blog entry:

But I feel I'm growing older
and the songs that I have sung
echo in the distance
like the sound
of a windmill going 'round.
--Deep Purple

And yes, when I realized that a toboggan wasn't going to net me any of Mr. Nesmith's Liquid Paper inheritance money, I decided that it just wasn't worth it.

Dixie said...

Da-aad. *said in an exasperated tone of voice*

You are, perhaps, the absolute coolest father ever. Certainly the coolest one I could have asked for. Come on! Most of my friends' fathers are overweight, balding, and like to sit around watching basketball while reading the finance section of the newspaper.

You, well, you go to concerts, travel, have awesome long hair, listen to fantastically good music, have a wonderful sense of humor, and have a blog, for chrissakes. You freaking rock.

Here's the man who took me to my first David Bowie concert when I was 17, and I was proud to be there with you. You introduced me to sushi. Your 50th birthday party (all 7 days of it) was insanely fun. You're going to see Johnny Winter soon. You recently met Keith Emerson. I want to meet Keith Emerson! All this awesomeness, and you're still there for me when I need someone to talk to.

You're the dad that makes my friends jealous of me for having.

You're not cool. You're awesome. It's higher up on the "cool" scale. And sorry, but this is one comment I had to make as your daughter. Maybe when I start my blog I'll do a post called "my dad is cool" even though you never mention me in yours. :p Love you!

Dixie said...

And by the way, David Bowie is still cool. I don't care if he looks like "an investment banker," I just figure he got classier with age.

Gilahi said...

Um. Wow. I feel compelled to state for the record at this point that my daughter was under no duress (at least from me) to say the above.

Thanks, Dixie.

Bilbo said...

Hey, wait a minute! Let's go back to GreenCanary and j-money and the part about old guys being hot!! I'll stack my gray hair up against anybody's! And let us not forget Jimmy Buffett's lyric about "growing older, but not up." I think that's where we're headed, here.

J-Money said...

I agree with you and Jimmy, Mr. Bilbo. My metabolic rate is pleasantly stuck too, I hope.

Also, Gilahi, props for the use of "Mother's Little Helper" as a post title...

Gilahi said...

bilbo - I suppose you're right. If young folks want to idealize us and fantasize from afar, what can it hurt?

OK! I'm virile and sexy and oh, so desirable, partly because I'm unavailable.

j-money - To paraphrase Charlie Harper ("Two and a Half Men"), you're only as old as the guys you feel. And the title thing was pretty much a gimme considering the subject matter. But thanks.

bozoette said...

We're not hip anymore either, but at least we're fab and groovy. And although I also have a boom box, I wish I could say I still had my 8-track tape deck and CB radio.

Gilahi said...

We are groovy! Especially when we wear tie-dye.

I had 8-tracks and a CB.

My boombox does play CDs, which was a very cool feature when I bought it.

Capitol Hill 20210 said...

Happy Birthday - ok don't feel old - I am 35 and have the following in my posession:

Atari 2600
Some old 8-tracks
Records -yep one is of Peaches and Herb and Don Ho lol they were my dads
Beta Max Videos - oh yes!

Gilahi said...

Thanks! Do you have an 8-track player? Do you have a beta video player? Do you have anything on which to play records? Do you ever play Pong or Space Invaders?

I still have a couple hundred records, but my turtable is packed up with them so they never come out.

Gilahi said...

Oh, and by the way, my Mom is big Don Ho fan as well.

"Tiiiiiny bubbles...."

GreenCanary said...

P.S. Congrats on making yesterday's Express!!! Woo!

Bilbo said...

Zipcode - not only do I have records...I have 78 rpm records. It's been years since I've owned a turntable that could play them. Sigh.

J.M. Tewkesbury said...

I started to read this entry, but then I nodded off. Next thing I knew, I was waking up with keyboard marks on my forehead and drool on my touch pad. I probably should have had a nap before I sat down to read blogs. God, getting old sucks! ;-)

Gilahi said...

Canary - Wow!!! I had no idea! That's the joy of living/working in the same area and not riding the rails. I didn't see it and didn't know about it. Thanks!

Bilbo - 78s? Man. I concede. My CD-playing boom-box can't compete with that.

Gilahi said...

J.M. - It was all I could do to write it. It would've been longer but it was 3:00 and the early-bird special at Ponderosa was starting up.

Herb of DC said...

In a recent cover story The Advocate proclaimed this "The Age of the Silver Fox."

Gray hair is in! The gays say so!

Ok you probably don't read that magazine. And this knowledge gives me no comfort since I have little hair left.

Gilahi said...

So what comes after The Age of the Silver Fox? The Age of the Naked Mole Rat? The Age of the Mexican Hairless? Don't give up, your time may be coming.

GreenCanary said...

I would just like to state for the record that old men ARE hot: laugh lines, eye crinkles, self-assuredness. You don't need to be Harrison Ford to be hot. (Though, with me, it helps if you are bald and captain a starship. Like Jean Luc Piccard.)

P.S. I like your daughter! She's spunky.

Shannon said...

Gray is IN? Awesome, I'm chucking the Feria Bronze Brown and letting my streak flag fly.

Oh, wait, it's only old DUDES that are hot.

PS - I use a CB radio and a 1970s slide projector as bookends.

Gilahi said...

canary - I am not bald (nor even balding) and thankfully so. Never even been on a starship, much less captained one. I've LISTENED to some Starship, but frankly I like Airplane better.

I like my daughter, too. :-)

Shannon - There are some really hot older women out there. Tina Turner springs to mind. There are others.

Cool bookends. Very retro.

NG said...

Don't count yourself out just yet... I have a cassette tape player... IN MY CAR.

Besides, I wouldn't mind living to be 299 if I could do it with a daughter that thought so highly of me.

Gilahi said...

Well, at least you don't have an 8-track player in your car.

Wanna buy some tapes? :-)

Let's see... when I'm 299, Dixie will be 271. I'm guessing we'll still be able to see The Rolling Stones in concert together.

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