I’m Really Getting Old


I Get It. I’m Getting Older

          This is a tricky one. I value all my family and friends dearly and don’t want to offend anyone. But enough is enough. For some reason, a number of folks in my age group seem to be obsessed with getting older. That’s fine and it’s really none of my business nor should I be evaluating their fixations or state of mind. But some lines are being crossed. 

If you have reached your golden years, perhaps you will identify with my dilemma. In a nutshell, it seems I can’t go a day without someone telling me how worthless they’ve become because they couldn’t think of a name or some other fact. This is always accompanied with the obligatory complaint about growing old. Also, every day my email contains more than one “funny” cartoon and/or forward about the perils of growing older. 

In a lesser vein, I also receive numerous emails taking strolls down memory lane. Did you know everything was better back in the good old days? Performers, automobiles, and virtually every other thing you can think of. Really? You may actually have some memory issues. 

Now before someone actually gets angry, let me say I understand. Fact is we do slow down in almost every way as we age. And yes, I would love to be riding around in my red ’56 Chevy. But here’s the deal. We are living in this world today. Key word here is living. Sure, we have some years on us, but there are questions we could be asking and answering each day. What would be productive and interesting for me? What can I accomplish? Who can I help? What would be fun? 

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not up in some ivory tower scolding and passing judgment. I’m an observer of the aging process. In my humble opinion, we don’t really miss those old cars; we miss ourselves at that age driving those cars. Were drive-in movies really better than watching our big screen plasma with surround sound in the comfort of our home? No, but we remember being at the drive-in with that hot date on a Saturday night and miss all the fun of being young and having our lives in front of us. It’s perfectly understandable.  

But this is life. I’m always inspired by those who accept life and live it fully to its completion. You pick the cliché, but while we still have the ability to think and love, I would hope we would embrace life with every bit of energy and passion we can summon.         

Well, it’s finally happened. I’m getting old. Physically, I’m doing well, and mentally I still think like an eighteen-year-old. It’s my reaction to the younger world around me that causes my concern. 

The first thing I’ve noticed lately is rather than losing my hearing in my old age, most of the younger folks I encounter must have gone completely deaf. It seems every car driven by anyone thirty or younger has a stereo blasting music so loud it can be heard for blocks away. Even young parents with their little children in car seats are rolling down the street with a volume that makes their windows rattle and my teeth ache. 

We live in a boating community and in many cases the stereo speakers in these vessels cost more than the boat itself. I know one individual who has seven extra batteries just to power the speakers. These are concert arena type speakers that can literally be heard a mile away. A couple of years ago, my late mother was sitting on our back deck when one of these folks fired up their boat and blasted the stereo. The concussion actually knocked her off her chair. I’m not quite sure what the point is, although I’m guessing it’s one of those “my dog’s bigger than your dog” deals. Every once in a while at a red light I’ll notice a young person in an old car next to me. They’ll have the volume turned up as loud as possible, but even I know it’s not getting the job done. I’ve almost felt like giving them money to get some decent equipment.   

I should add to this rant that even though I consider myself a minor musician, I’m not too thrilled with current musical choices. Given the over-the-top bass involved in hip hop, I really can’t make out the words and I’m pretty sure the word “melody” no longer exists in our language.   

Speaking of language, what is going on with profanity? I was watching a fairly funny comedy with my wife recently and began to feel sorry for the actors. How many times can they use the same swear word in one movie? You could actually see the strain on their faces trying to make it seem convincing. I can’t imagine what it must have been like in the read-through of the script. 

Hollywood producers would say they are just portraying real life, but it truly is a chicken or egg thing. I read an interview with one of the current top comedic actors and producers  recently and he related how as a teenager he and his friends would create stories with as much profanity as possible because they considered it “edgy” and funny. I get that. I’m not a prude. A well placed expression here and there can be just right for the moment. But when the dialogue becomes almost exclusively swear words, the art is lost. 

Walk through any mall, stroll through any store, and if you want a real education, place yourself outside a high school at the end of the day. The art of conversation has completely died. Sexually-laced profanity is the coin of the realm. I’m especially bothered by the young parents who use vile language, sometimes directed at their children. 

When talking about swearing, I’m reminded of my military experience. After going through basic training and technical school, I got a brief leave to go home. I was pretty quiet during that visit. By that time my vocabulary was down to about twenty words and ten of them were profane. 

I should add for full disclosure, my parents always set a good example and profanity was not part of their every day vocabulary. Did they ever swear? I’m sure. But my father was an old school gentleman. Swearing around women was especially out of bounds. Sounds pretty old fashioned in this day and age. Also seems a bit refreshing. 

When I was younger, I read a quote by George Washington. For some reason I’ve remembered it to this day. Thought I would close by sharing it with you. And yes, I know. I’m getting old.

“The foolish and wicked practice of profane cursing and swearing is a vice so mean and low that every person of sense and character detests and despises it.”