I’m starting to get paranoid. I find myself routinely surveying the people around me, and looking for someone (anyone!) who might be a little older than I am. And I often come up empty. I’m an old man at this point, and don’t even like to tell people my age. This is a relatively new development, maybe the last three or four years. I never volunteer my age, ’cause the number is frightening to everyone within earshot. Sure, I know all the cliches:
- You’re only as old as you feel
- Age is just a number
- You’re not getting older, you’re getting better
- 60 is the new 40 (or whatever the fuck)
And others that I’m probably too old to remember. Those things can be packed deep. Also: Who cares what people think? That one can be packed, too. It’s not so much what people think, it’s how I’m going to feel about the situation when they recoil in horror. I’m not concerned about them so much, I just don’t need my fears confirmed. Ya know? Here’s another one:
- Well, it’s better than the alternative
That’s certainly true. But it’s true in any situation. “Man, it’s hot in here!” “At least you’re not dead.” “My new shoes keep squeaking.” “It’s better than being in a grave.” “This burger is overcooked.” “I knew somebody who roasted alive in a warehouse fire, and I bet he’d love to be here to eat that overcooked burger.” So… that’s no comfort to me. It can also be packed.
Recently I find myself getting defensive about my age too. Like at the self-checkout stand at the grocery store… It bugs me greatly when one of those zit-spangled little shits comes over and asks if I need assistance. Why me? Why are you asking me in particular? Believe it or not, despite my gray hair, I know how to operate this complex apparatus. I can even successfully navigate the purchase of a Roma tomato — utilizing the convoluted produce lookup tool — if necessary. I’m able to figure it out. So quit hassling me, Adolph Zitler.
The same thing happened at a restaurant over the weekend. It was one of those deals where you have to scan a barcode to bring up the menu, and the over-caffeinated anorexic waitress wanted to hold our hands through the process. I blasted her with my eyes and she scampered away to probably drown her sorrows in a comically-elongated can of Rockstar or whatever. I go on and on about it in the latest podcast, if you’re interested.
Anyway, I’m becoming one of those grouchy old bastards who sees conspiracies around every corner, and in every shadow.
Ready for another cliche?
- I don’t feel old, I feel like I always have.
I guess that’s good, right? But the tiny (but loud) cynic who lives inside my head whispers that it’s all a false sense of comfort. Oh, you’re old, he whisper-shouts, make no mistake about it. I know… And I realize there are lots o’ people actually older than I am who are probably sneering at my concerns. And I do find small comfort in the fact that my parents are 21 years older than I am, and have apparently been having the time of their lives for the past 10 years or so. That makes me feel a little better.
How are you doing with the aging process? Have you reached my level of insanity yet? Bring us up to date on it, won’t you?
And I’ll see you guys again real soon.
Have a great day!
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I’ve heard several cracks about my age and whats currently going on in the world these days.
That reminds me: Is it OK if I tell people you’re the dad of the guy I used to work with at the record store?
What was the name of the serial killer pictured? The one who cooked his hitchhiker victims over lump charcoal.
The Spatula Slayer
The Maillard Murderer
The Patty Melter (only killed hitchhikers called Patricia)
It absolutely must be the Patty Melter. Applicable too if you knock off a Patrick. Equal-opportunity slaying!
Jeffrey Gottlieb says
Dude, my birfsday was just before yours…big 60…jeez, my dad was 5 years retired at 60. My retirement will be the period between my heart seizing up and my head hitting the desk…pass the beer nuts.
I know old you are!?. Yes, I can relate. Having health issues I never dreamed of 10 years ago. The aging process is not being kind to me. I have the grey hair and grey beard now and I get asked if I have aarp for discounts now. My daughter has been recently asked if I was her grandfather. She tell them to fuck off and she was born when I was 43. Me and my girl always got each others backs. I am the oldest person in my workplace, and bitchy and cantankerous, and everyone knows to leave me alone when one of my turns are coming on. I spend my evenings drinking heavily, rolling one up, perusing the internet and ignoring my lawn. I think the only thing keeping me alive now is walking everywhere I go. The grocery store, the liquor store, the dollar store….yes, walking is keeping me alive. I hope you had a great birfday, Jeff! We just gonna keep getting old together!
I’m slightly older than you are and bristle at the grocery folks who ask me if I need help getting my stuff to the car. OK, perhaps more valid earlier in the year when I didn’t have hair (people want to be nice to obviously sick persons), but I could still bristle even then. I know I’m viewed as old by young strangers, who are too good to pay attention to anyone over 30, and am at the age where I’m ignored by persons who would have really wanted my ‘attention’ 25 years ago.
To hell with all of them, I guess. Can’t be bothered by that when I need to reserve umbrage for all the ways my body is letting me down. Because now I can throw my back out by sleeping and somehow forget how to swallow properly, and that shit will kill you if left unchecked.
surreal killer says
78 is the new 45, and 45 is the new 33. Units are in RPM.
I hit 60 in September this year and it has not been kind. Diagnosed with tinnitus last year, now I have balance issues. Two weeks after turning 60 I tripped going to the bathroom at 4 am and broke my right index finger. A week later I tumbled down the stairs and tore a ligament in my knee. Getting old is not for the faint of heart.
During my last visit to my primary care physician, I’m pretty sure he tested me for early cognitive impairment. Either that or he has it and that was why he repeated three question twice during the course of my visit.
Joe T says
My kids call me old man. Not like, “my old man is GREAT”, more like, “be careful you don’t get COVID, because you’re an old man”. Sucks.
Dr Buford says
1) that picture
2) Adolph Zitler
3) “…comically elongated can of Rockstar or whatever.”
I’m only 49 but now look old enough that people think I’m my kids’ grandfather. Fuck it – just another form of stealth mode.
So far this is the oldest I’ve ever been. I consider it proof of my immorality. Having never died, I submit that so far the evidence is in my favor. As long as some Highlander doesn’t show up to cut off my head I expect I’ll last forever. I should probably learn to sword fight just to be on the safe side. But then again, I have Netflix and Amazon prime, so that’s probably not going to happen.
In truth, I’ve been old since about 4th grade. I’m getting closer to my age every year.
I’m in a job where I’m usually working with women who are considerably younger than me. When the subject of age comes up I’ll usually them that they’re old enough for me to have taken them to my senior prom. I’d have had to bring a diaper bag with me, but I could have brought them.
Oddly enough I’m at a new gig and I’m the youngest person in the building. It’s been a while since I could say that.
I don’t much care how old I am as long as I keep getting older.
Pretty sure I’m the oldest in my group of friends, but that’s actually a plus. Instead of my friends all dying, I’ll die sooner. I started a work-from-home job two months ago, and I haven’t met most of my coworkers, so I have no data on that.
Fat is absolutely nature’s botox. I’m 62 but most people think I’m in my 40s. Of course I still get the pleasure of aches and pains.
PS: The edit delay is back! Can you dig it!
I turnt 45 this October and my skeleton is beginning to collapse. My 19yo stepdaughter and her pornstar lookalike friends all look at me with sympathy. I started shooting testosterone this year too and now my dick won’t lay flat – which goes nicely with my powdered hip bones.
I’m pretty sure during my last regular visit to my primary care physician, he tested me for early onset cognitive impairment by asking me three questions twice during the course of my visit. Either that or he has it (he’s been my doctor since I was in college).
Jeff, is there any way you can find a taller photographer? This is the second photo you’ve posted in the last couple of years that makes you look eight feet tall. Nobody looks to be in the prime of youth when shot from “below”.
Having said that, feeling old has little to do with the way you look. It’s all in the damn cultural references. Even out here I yammer on about the Fugs and Topo Gigio and the Vapors singing about masturbation (at least people seem to recognize that masturbation has some currency) and even remember the lyrics to the theme song from Cheyenne (“Cheyenne, Cheyenne, where will you be campin’ tonight?, Lonely man, Cheyenne, will your heart stay free and light?”), but people keep talking about somebody named Billy Eyelash. My technological hopes were dashed last month when my Sister’s Doodles ate my John McCain 3G flip phone. Now I’m trying to learn how to use an iPhone and walking through the store looking down at a random screen generator cursing through my mask. I’d check the television listings for reruns of the George Gobel show (“well I’ll be a dirty bird”) but there are no TV listings anymore. Somebody told me Appointment TV was dead and I didn’t even know it was ill.
And that’s what happens. All the cultural handholds and footholds you’ve used to climb through life fade away: the last thing you see is their Cheshire smile as you tumble from the social climbing wall and awaken in a peculiar new world where Ed Sullivan isn’t broadcast on Sunday nights and his little friend Topo has fled the country. I have become a stranger in a strange land.
Stuart in Oz says
I’m the same age as you Jeff and I feel your angst buddy. My wife is 7 years younger so that’s helping my image a bit! Yep I too feel the same as when I was in my twenties except now I think about consequences of my actions. Oh and my knees are shot!
The Yodler says
When I wake up the second or third time to pee in the night, I catch a glimpse of my father looking back at me in the mirror. And he’s not happy.
I’m the oldest one on my floor of employees, but the two ladies on the first floor are older than me so I’m not the granny of the group. And the owners are antiques.
I always thought of myself as being more on the young and hip side but that came to a screeching halt one day. One of the younger lads was relaying a telephone conversation he had with some irate ex-employee and he said he wanted to tell them to “lose the ‘tude!”, stops, looks at me and says “Attitude” as if I couldn’t possibly comprehend the word ‘tude. We still laugh about it.
Jeff, nice fly swatter.
Too young to be an antique and too old to be retro? (a week and change from turning 73) Don’t have the luxury of weight to fill in the wrinkles, so if I don’t look in the mirror and ignore the back pain I feel half my age.
Have always readily admitted my age, and was only gobsmacked by one birthday – I turned 40 with a vengeance and was forced to process the reality that I was no longer young. Do love the experience I’ve accrued, and not offended by offers of help as my days of slinging a 50 pound sack of flour over my shoulder are long gone.
Stay safe guys.
Things I learned in bypass bootcamp: Ten days of being scared shitless while being in peculiar pain.
1) Read the USDA-required ingredients disclosure of all grocery purchases. I should have known how much sodium, fat and non-dietary emulsifiers are in packaged foods. Jesus, how much salt had I eaten in 65 years to qualify for a heart attack?
2) Smoking might be bad for you.
3) Digital versions of the Grateful Dead catalog will go a long way toward restoring one’s spirit and moving you in a shuffle-step around the ward in the six-a-days. Touch of Grey is particularly inspiring.
4) Chicks dig bigass chest scars — on guys 40 years younger than you.
5) Anxiety — what people used to call stress — is a precursor to a surgical procedure you won’t remember and you’ll never forget.
6) Fast food carries a License to Kill in its corporate wallet.
7) Take your damn pills every day, all twelve of them. Just at the time of life when your memory is sputtering and missing badly.
8) You’ll think #2 will get you off. The vast majority of the survivors in the ward were lifelong non-smokers. (They don’t treat the non-survivors, so I can’t say for sure.)
Hope this helps.
Stop it, John, you’re scaring the youngsters.
I think our generation refers to them as the whippersnappers.
I’ve only snapped a whipper once — I was young and foolish — but I thought that had been expunged from my record.
And what the hell, Clue . . . THEY all have good working hearts and can TAKE IT. Jesus, all of a sudden I’m capitalizing like Hunter Thompson.
Yeah, 2020 DOES that to people, eh?
And take special care of that heart. By the time he was my age, my dad had suffered through two bypass surgeries. Decades of eating a healthier diet has helped me fight off that genetic eventuality for now.
I’m in my 7th decade on the earth and if you discount the heart attack I had two years ago and the heart valve replacement I had last year, I’m in better shape than most 40 year olds. I guess I’m lucky, but I do work out 2-3 days a week and eat better than most people, so I’m gonna take partial credit for that. I retired over the summer but I did rob the cradle with my wife, so she needs to put in 3 more years or so until we can be REALLY retired. I think the corny saying is true….you get out of life exactly what you put in….with a small amount of luck.
Shit, where to start. I will be bearing down on 60 next year, you guys are freaking me out. Couple of gut checks recently, I have travelled extensively for work the past several years (550 flights in the last 5 years), so when this Covid shite hit town, we were forced to work from home. On one of our Microsoft teams Senior Management meetings, our CEO proclaimed to the entire group, “Doug you’re old like me, so you aren’t travelling anywhere”. Yeah, thanks for that.
I had my doctor since I was 12 years old. He saw me go through life like no one else. Now he is retired and our new family doctor starts every sentence with “like…”. My dentist also retired, my eye doctor and audiologist (yes, hearing aids definitely add to the age complex. It is nice to be able to hear though) are both retiring in the next year. Fuck.
But through it all, we endure.
Nice observations, six. When I staggered out of college, Dad told me, “By the time you’re 30 you should have a doctor, dentist, attorney, pharmacist, insurance agent, auto mechanic, and banker with whom you are lifelong friends. You should send them all the business you can and expect them to go the extra mile for you.”
I did just that, and it worked. My dentist, over the years, came in twice on a Saturday to fix me. My doctor was already a family friend, and we developed our own friendship. Etc., etc.
Then, one at a time, they started retiring. My pharmacist and mechanic are the last two standing, and they’re gone in the next year. And the replacement batch is just barely adequate. It’s one of the hardest things about being old.
When I escaped college and had The Talk with Dad, my ambition wasn’t to just endure. In any case, it turns out everything changes, nothing endures. Hell, I’d sue God, but I don’t have a fucking attorney.