Monday, February 18, 2008

Getting Old

It's odd to see these occasional photos, online, of famous people from the 1970s and 1980s, and how they look now. Not that they all look bad. I saw one, today, featuring Goldie Hawn. She still looks like Goldie Hawn. But she's the exception. We are getting older, and we look it. That's OK, for the most part. We are human, we should expect this to happen. If anything, we should be proud of it. We have learned some things; we have been around the block a time or two. My generation, the Baby Boomers, distrusted older people in our youth, back in our 1964-1974 heyday. That was appropriate at the time. But it was also too bad for us. Now we are older people, and we don't have the confidence befitting the office. We are lame-duck old people, occupying the position by virtue of seniority; but eventually we will be shuffled offstage by new, younger old people, who hopefully will have spent their lives learning and believing that experience and wisdom are priceless. None of this helps the fact that everybody is starting to look so damned old. But, as I say, it's really OK. Being with all these old folks helps me to see differently. When I was a kid, I would dismiss or avoid people with wrinkles or grey hair. It just didn't seem that they understood my world. Now that I'm one of them, I think my world is opening up. Imagine feeling that you are not so terribly removed, after all, from your 87-year-old mother. It is a bit of an epiphany. This year, I will turn 53. It sounds like a lot. I don't feel very old, but in a kid's eyes I know I look it. I'm grizzled; my cheeks sag a bit; I'm grey. Christ, I probably even smell funny. Those kids, they have noses like a bloodhound, when they get around someone my age. Alice Cooper thought he had problems when he sang, back in 1972, "I'm in the middle / The middle of life / I'm a boy and I'm a man / I'm eighteen." What should I sing? "I've got an / Old man's face and a / Baby's heart / I'm 52 and I / May be an old fart ..." Ah, but see, I still have my sense of humor. I think it may have been the comedian Rodney Dangerfield who described a conversation with some guy: "So, Rodney," the guy said, "you lived your whole life in New York?" "Not yet!" Rodney replied with mock fright. That's how I feel. I'm in the middle of my adult life, if you start from 17 or so and run, like my folks, up into the high 80s. Who knew I'd be spending so many years as an old guy? It seems like a strange plan. But I don't write the music; I just dance to it.