Column: Yeah, it’s my birthday. Shut up about it

by |
01/12/2013 8:00 AM |

There’s a chance you may no longer spot yours truly at the post office, dump or supermarket, all the hot spots that provide most of my opportunities for social interaction, for the next year. I’ll explain.

A few months ago a financial planner I know was waxing knowledgeable about individual retirement investments, particularly how the risk vs. reward ratio should change as the blaze from the candles on one’s birthday grows in intensity. The closer you are to retirement and the more candles on your cake, he proffered, the less risk you should carry in your portfolio.

I have a question: What’s this “retirement” stuff you hear so much about? I’m part of an age class where “retirement” is something other people do when their birthday cake can set off a smoke detector. We, however, will work until we drop or until the Publishers Clearing House prize van, or whatever the heck it’s called, shows up, whichever comes first.

So why might I forgo all my usual haunts? It’s because this investment fellow said he has observed that people who live to 60 have a good chance of making it to 80.

And on New Year’s Day 2013, yours truly hit the big 5-9. I figure that if I don’t venture outdoors for the next 355 days or so, my chances of hitting the big 6-0 will be greatly enhanced. True, that doesn’t take into account a tsunami slamming into the East Coast or a piece of the International Space Station smashing through the roof. Then again, after a year of “Judge Judy,” “The Price is Right” and “Dancing With the Stars” those might be welcome occurrences.

The big 6-0. Damn, Sam. Perhaps its time to expand my portfolio to include stock in Ben Gay, Icy Hot Patches, Extra-Strength Tylenol and that “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” gizmo. Do they still market “The Clapper”?

Of course this whole age business is relative. First, I have four relatives — siblings, that is — currently in their 60s with one fast approaching 70. And, of course, out here, you’re still a punk kid at 59. A senior discount at the movies or a cheaper cup of McDonald’s coffee? Fuggedaboutit.

Still, I’ve passed several thresholds to old age, perhaps the most startling being the first time a local police officer began his greeting with “Mr.” While many, many years have passed, I still can’t shake the feeling of being a young man in his 20s during the 1970s, driving a rust-bucket worth no more than $150 with questionable tires and a slightly out-of-date inspection sticker, always keeping a sharp eye out for “the fuzz,” who didn’t much like kids with hair to their shoulders.

Then there’s coming across one of the gazillion show biz “news” programs on cable profiling stars I ain’t never heard of — that is, until they get arrested or put out a sex tape. Or so I’ve heard.

Speaking of cable, the kids are grown and out of the house so there’s no one around to hear me wax pedantic about how we only had a 19-inch black & white TV when I was growing up and it only got channels 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 11 and 13 and you’d watch crappy shows for hours because no one wanted to get up and turn the channel and if one of the large vacuum tubes blew out, your old man would take it down to the hardware store and …

You damn kids with your 50-foot flat screens connected to the Interweb don’t know what it was like!

This week offered a more tangible reminder of the passage of time. It occurred while I was fulfilling my assignment to photograph the debate between county Legislature hopefuls Sean Walter and Al Krupski Monday night at Martha Clara Vineyards. People tend to get really ticked off if you stand in front of them as motionless as a mannequin, so a photographer has to hop around all evening. That’s not a problem; what is, though, is sitting on the floor — to keep out of the line of sight — across from the candidates. Sitting wasn’t the problem, actually. It was the getting up, a lengthy process played out in front of 200 people. In my defense, I did keep the groaning and grunting to a minimum and the mics didn’t pick up the snap, crackle and pop from various joints.

Oh, well, ’tis the natural order of things and it’s not all bad. With age comes wisdom, right? Or as the poet Robert Frost said, “The afternoon knows what the morning never suspected.”

Unless, of course, you find yourself saying to your spouse, “Whaddaya mean I just slathered both knees with Crest Whitening rather than Ben Gay?”

tkelly@timesreview.com

5 Comment