In the Stretch Run

by Frank Fulton

Originally published in Glass Canada Magazine, August 2015 Issue

It was a way back in February 2010 when I penned that hard hitting journalistic gem about our cronies expedition to Las Vegas to commemorate the 60th birthday of good, old Brian Wiles. You may recall the good natured banter about Brian and our trip that concluded with “Next time you see him, you may want to ask if that’s “Old Man Smell” cologne he’s wearing….”

Well, if you can believe it, Brian took exception to that cologne line and wasn’t all that happy having to put up with the zingers shot his way at practically every office he walked in to for the next month. So, to be fair and to make things right after all this time, it’s my turn to spritz with the noxious Eau de Toilette. August, 2015 marks 60 years in this world for yours truly.

Turning sixty is one of those good news, bad news situations. You may not have all the tools you used to have, but working with what you’ve got still beats the alternative. Maybe you haven’t reached the end of the road but you can see it from here. One good thing, however, is that in a hostage situation you are likely to be released first. So, does becoming 60 really mean you are old?

The World Health Organization states that at the moment, there is no United Nations standard numerical criterion, but the UN agreed cutoff is 60+ years to refer to the older population. Mary C. Morrison, at the age of 87, wrote about the heroism required to live through the disintegration of one’s own body concluding that “old age is not for the fainthearted”. Lillian Rubin, active in her 80s as an author, sociologist, and psychotherapist, opens her book 60 on Up: The Truth about Aging in America with “getting old sucks. It always has, it always will.” Bernard Baruch, a former American presidential advisor noted: “To me – old age is always ten years older than I am.” I’m going with that one…

Seriously though, there are a number of good and bad things to consider regarding aging.

On the bad side: Everything hurts and what doesn’t hurt doesn’t work. You know all the answers, but nobody asks you the questions. You wonder how you could be over the hill when you don’t even remember being on top of it. You can’t stand people who are intolerant.

On the positive side: The clothes you’ve put away until they come back in style…..come back in style. You have more patience; but actually, it’s just that you don’t care any more. There’s nothing left to learn the hard way. You don’t care where your wife goes, just so long as you don’t have to go along. Getting lucky means you find your car in the parking lot. Your secrets are safe with your friends because they can’t remember them either.

I’ve now run out of time to become a pro golfer, concert pianist, billionaire, or genius and have decided that in my golden years I am going to focus my efforts on becoming a curmudgeon. I always admired Andy Rooney from 60 Minutes and actually expected to see his picture in the dictionary when I looked up the word. A curmudgeon is described as “a person, especially and old man, who is easily annoyed or angered and who often complains. An ill-tempered person full of resentment and stubborn notions”.

Another take on curmudgeons is that they are falsely believed to be grumpy old men and the truth is that they are supremely independent thinkers, very wise, and have excellent senses of humour. They tell the truth, let people know what they’re thinking without being mean about it, but don’t try to make everything sound pretty. They don’t yell at people or say things to upset them. They suffer fools in silence knowing full well that stupidity has its own rewards, let them believe as they choose and simply walk away. Hold your tongue and you won’t be the stupid one. Lastly, curmudgeons dress for comfort, not for fashion, wear suspenders instead of belts, and don’t go to fitness centres. They’ve got no use for metrosexuals. You know, I think I’ve been a curmudgeon for years already but just didn’t have the years to support the age criteria.

It used to be that our elders held a status of respect and reverence, but in recent years research on age-related attitudes consistently finds that negative attitudes exceed positive attitudes toward old people because of their looks and behavior. In his study Aging and Old Age, Richard A. Posner discovers “resentment and disdain of older people” in American society. Well, I don’t want to start being disliked as I age so I’ve decided that there are certain things I’m not going to do.

I won’t grunt when I get up or sit down. I’ll have my vocal chords removed if I do. I won’t ramble on about my ailments, although I could write a book about my medically related issues if I had to. I’ll only talk about them as an information service in the event someone asks. If my hearing goes, I’ll get hearing aids. I will never engage in a discussion comparing medications. If a discussion is tending in this direction, I will do my best to change the topic to the attributes of hot women or sports.

And lastly, if in the future I ever start to tell you about the regularity of my bodily functions and how I fully void my bladder like clockwork at 7:30 a.m. every day of the week but don’t get out of bed until 8:00, it will definitely be time to put me out to pasture.

Categories: You Bet Your Glass