It occurred to me the other day that I have been around for a long time. I realized this when someone was talking about remembering where they were when the planes hit the twin towers. These types of events help define generations. My generation is best defined by remembering where we were when John Kennedy was shot. I was walking the halls of my elementary school in Jacksonville, FL as the news came that would change our world. Those were stressful times anyway. I remember 1962 and my dad driving us out to Jacksonville Beach where we saw a line of warships from horizon to horizon headed south to Cuba. Later that night I saw a sky full of planes headed in the same direction. On top of this there was a weekly exercise we were doing in school called, “Duck, and cover.”
“If you see a bright flash, duck under your desk and cover your head; there has been a nuclear explosion.” As if a 40 year old wooden desk which was half-rotted from three generations of gum stuck to its underside would protect you from the bully in the next row, much less a nuclear blast.
So one day recently, as I was trimming the hair growing out of my nose, I suddenly realized that I am now approaching old! It wasn’t so much the memories of the 60s as it was trimming the hair. Why is it that at some point around age 40, when hair begins getting sparse on your head, it suddenly seems to re-surge in many other less complimentary parts of the body? For the first 40 years of life, I don’t remember ever having to trim nose hairs. Now I can’t go a week without trimming them, lest my wife see me and demand that the trimming commence. And it’s not just the nose, I have hair growing out of my ears, too. And what is the deal with eyebrows? Again, 40 years of wake up, leave, come home and sleep has suddenly turned into, “What in the world is that caterpillar doing on my brow?”
Something else I have noticed. A friend told me I would know I was getting old when I started going “Ughhh” when I get up out of my recliner. Shoot, I have been saying, “Ughhh” for years now when I sit DOWN in my recliner. And yet I continue to sign up for the church softball team every spring. Each year I tell myself, “Just one more year.” Then I go out and play with guys half my age, turning double plays and hitting .600 and somehow, between administering massive doses of Advil and Ben-Gay, I complete another year. What a sense of pride as I limp into the house to tell my wife, “I went three for four tonight…UGHHHHHH,” as I fall into my recliner.
Older people have a tendency to sit around with their peers and talk about their ailments. I learned this years ago when my wife and I sent our daughter to stay with my parents for a week. About the middle of the week we called to see how things were going. “Dad, please don’t ever send me here again. All Papa and Gramma do is sit around with other old people and talk about what hurts and what doctor they went to this week. I wanna come home!”
My wife and I are trying to avoid this scenario by hanging out with a circle of friends 20 to 30 years younger than ourselves. They simply do not tolerate such talk. Our conversations go more like this:
Friend: “Elijah is a little cranky today, he is cutting a new tooth.”
Me: “Yeah, I’m a little cranky myself, I just lost a tooth. Hit it with the scissors while I was trimming nose hairs. Where is Ryan today?”
Friend: “He and David are out hunting bugs. And, by the way, what’s up with that caterpillar on your forehead?”