We've gone and done it.
Gone and got ourselves old.
I can attest to this, as I fall near the young end of the baby-boomer generation--children of lusty soldiers and home-front heroines who came together with such passion following WWII, they made so many babies they didn't know what to do.
So they changed the shape of the country, creating a bulge or boom of humanity that rolls through modern times altering America and the world. More schools, bigger auditoriums, new sights and sounds and foods and drugs to feed our affluent tastes.
Those at the front of that bulge are eyeing 60.
Those toward the back, like me, are staring 50 in the face.
I've managed to mess around and get myself a half-century old. And I'm going to celebrate it, like it or not, my family tells me.
Fifty's nothing, my older friends say, look at me. But that's not the tune they were singing when it happened to them I'll bet.
No doubt, they were taking the measure of this strange new milestone every which way, just as I am.
Let's see, I'm more than one-fifth the age of America.
I'm so ancient I was grown the year Elvis left the building for good.
I'm twice as old as my mother when she birthed me.
I'm older than several presidents when they took office.
I'm old enough to remember when "Talkin' Bout My Generation," by The Who, was a brand new song, and it's famous line, "Hope I d-d-die before I get old" didn't seem appalling.
Man, we're singing a different song now.
I betcha this very minute old Pete Townsend's working on his abs, doing some sort of cutting edge aerobic stomach-crunch workout. And I bet he's singing the, "T-t-take those vitamins before ya get old," song.
Bet he's singing the pump-iron, song.
The, walk, run and bike a long ways down the road, song.
The, lay off the carbs and hydrogenated oils, song.
The, get that blood-work done, song.
The, grin and bare it when the doctor says, "Bend over," song.
Oh the indignity of age.
Still, I've known for some time something that never occurred to me as a youngster--that getting old is not the worst thing that can happen to you. In fact, it's about the best thing that can possibly happen to anyone, if you consider the alternative. There's only one.
Maybe that's why, of all the many ways we mark the passage of time in this country, we celebrate two more than most.
One is New Year's, which I find to be a joyous time. The novelty of millions of people moving en masse into a new year is a birthday party for us all. Nothing grim about it for most of us.
The individual birthday is more complicated, at least for me. It brings me down man. I seldom feel like celebrating. To celebrate a birthday is akin to being pushed through a chute that leads to, well, I'd rather not talk about it.
I don't know whether that's a rational response or not. I tell myself that bit about how getting older is the best possible thing, and make it a point to give thanks because giving thanks is the best way I've found to be happy, and I've much to be thankful for. I've never felt younger, what with the running, biking, swimming and climbing mountains--even if they're relatively little ones. Why, I can do things I could never do at 20, and I do them surrounded by wonderful human beings. I should celebrate every day.
Just not on my b-b-birthday.
But that's antisocial, and my family is having none of it. You WILL celebrate your birthday, they tell, and you'll like it.