Forty years ago tomorrow, I was the father of two boys: one age five, the other was two (two years later we added a daughter to the pride). Tomorrow would be my 30th birthday.
I was the navigator on a B-52 bomber crew. I recall that as I was taking a shower about fifty yards (roughly 45 meters) from a nuclear armed airplane cocked and ready to go blow the crap of somebody, I was quietly lamenting my age.
B-52D Navigator’s Position
I would no longer be in my twenties. I thought that I was not young and never would be again. I was knocking on the door of middle age, or so I thought. I was feeling down because I was turning the dreaded big three-zero. “Don’t trust anyone over thirty” was the phrase. I still don’t really know what that means. I just knew it was bad.
A Young B-52 Crew Dog
Our society convinced me that I was getting old and that I should be sad about it. In four days, that five-year-old I mentioned turns 45. He and his 42-years young brother really are middle aged, and their baby sister is knocking on that door. I was not old, but I was depressed thinking that I was. Thanks to our shallow, f***ed-up, foolish American culture that values all the wrong stuff in people, my thinking was foolish (and not only about age).
Is it all that important to be a thin, white, dark-haired, strong, male member of this country? We seem to think so. I hope that continues to change.
We have to pass laws to keep people from discriminating against older people, and the age in the law is 40. WTF? Forty is not old. Again, forty is not old! At most, it’s lower-middle aged.
And if you plan to call this foul-mouthed, hard-drinking, Fightin’ Texas Aggie, Irish-Welshman elderly; you best be certain that you can kick his ass. Because this one is standing straight-up and walking your way (in silence) to demonstrate that old is not elderly!
But, I will indeed become a septuagenarian at midnight tonight. In the game of life, I will be at ‘Level 8.’ I’ve literally been there, done that, and have the scars to prove it (which I wear proudly). I am on a first-name basis with my cardiologists, and if my peripheral vascular surgeon would do a better job, I would be running three miles a day, instead of walking. I ride a Honda Forza motor scooter because my 800-pound, 2007 Yamaha Royal Star Tour Deluxe touring motorcycle got too heavy to pick up (last year). But I still ride on two wheels. I’ve retired from the jobs that pay, but I work every day. I’m a writer and do volunteer work. My only boss is the one I’ve been married to for 50 years.
I like people and I want them to like me. But I also don’t give a flying f**k what anyone else thinks of me or my opinions, politics, religion (or lack thereof), foul language, or beer breath. I do not, and never will, wear socks with sandals. I remain a teenager of the 60s.
I am retired. All the shit/crap that I put up with for all those years of school (nuns-groan), yes, sir and no, sir; kissing up to very few idiot bosses (most were great), scrimping and saving and working – it was all worth it. As my wife would say, “Rave on, dog shit!” And so I do. Every day is a weekend and I can do what I want (with her permission—I’m old, not stupid) whenever.
I want to be happy and I am. My last meal will truly be a good pizza (my wife makes the best) and a fine stout brew. When the time comes, I want to walk into Dr. G’s office and say, “Time to shut it down, Doc. It’s been a great ride and I’ve loved it all. Let’s talk about the final git-er-done.” But that day is some ways off. Getting old is not dangerous, driving on our roads is.
Get ready big eight-zero ‘cuz here I come. ~ Me
I toast the good health of my birth year (1946) peers: Cher, Barry Gibb, George and Laura Bush, Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, Linda Ronstadt, Sally Field, Ed O’Neill, Reggie Jackson, Daryl Hall, Jimmy Buffett, Dolly Parton, Tommy Lee Jones, Al Green, Loni Anderson, Cheech Marin, and others. We’re still kickin’ the can down the road.
May you have love that never ends, much money, and many friends.
Health be yours, whatever you do and may the universe bless you and yours. Rock on, my friends.
I’ll publish my promised blog on creativity this next Friday. I am also tinkering with one on recovering from middle age (men only, I am unqualified for the experiences of the softer, better looking, and smarter sex) because I have been there and done that too.