Friday, December 25, 2009

Well past 'over the hill'

As I have reached an age well beyond any I had ever imagined, it occurs to me there’s a lot no one bothered to share when I was younger - or if they did, my memory has fulfilled the first prophecy.
I do remember people I worked with saying, “The mind is the first thing to go.”
I didn’t believe it then, still don’t. I forgot what they said was second.
But, just in case, the other phrase I hear often is, “He can remember 20 years ago, but he can’t remember what he had for breakfast.”
Got that one covered. I don’t eat breakfast. If someone asks what I had, I say, with conviction, “Didn’t eat breakfast.”
At least that way there is some room for doubt in their minds.
They never talked about gravity’s effect either. Not in family discussions, not in grade school and not in science class when the teacher would talk about how we managed to stay connected to the ground. Nope, no one mentioned that it also pulled on body parts. They never mentioned that as I got older I would need to buy smaller shirts and larger pants, nor did they mention that those smaller shirts needed larger collars.
And in those days, technology was related to some university filled with scientists studying no telling what. Television was the greatest thing since sliced bread - if a person could afford to buy one. At midnight, might as well go to bed - TV was over until the next morning, unless one was fascinated by the test pattern that was on all night. Never understood what they were testing for - seemed OK to me. Anyone else remember the playing of the “National Anthem” as the last thing?
That was more than 20 years ago, still didn’t eat breakfast.
Nope, they didn’t talk about technological advances back then or that first graders would know more about computers and such than most of the older population. Hate watching “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?”
Within the last year or so, these university scientists - or whomever - came out with a thing called a Blue Tooth. The first thought was, who the heck wants a blue tooth? I paid too dang much for the white ones. And I got them in Mexico. Heard of a gold tooth, had even seen them. But a blue tooth?
I watched the smiles of total strangers - nothing. Saw some blue hair now and then, but no blue tooth.
Then, come to find out, it’s something to stick in the ear. Do what? So I asked a first grader and found out it was for cell phones. As technology advances, I wonder what other body parts scientists will use to name a new device. What concerns me more is where they expect people to stick them.
And no one talked about the day a person wakes up and discovers someone “over the hill” is too young. When I was in my 20s and 30s, there was a lot of laughter about folks who were “over the hill.” But no one mentioned that when I hit that particular landmark it wouldn’t be that funny. After all, for the first 39 years of my life, “over the hill” meant too old to cut the mustard.
“Life begins at 40” many people said. Once there, I found out suddenly I was looked at with a different perspective. The grandkids thought I was an old man as the hair began to thin - a little here, a little there, the effects of gravity began to take hold and the hair color - at least what was still there - began to change.
Life began, alright. What they left off was “Life begins (to change) at 40.”
No, I’m not too old to cut the mustard, but, in the words of Jerry Reed, I’m too tired to spread it around.


  1. Mark, I remember the National Anthem playing as t.v. went off for the night. Now, unfortunately, it is on 24/7 - except in my house. I got rid of t.v. 2 years ago and rarely miss it. Only when there is something like a natural disaster or our govt. going more out of contro, which are just 2 more depressing happenings in life which we are all probably better off not watching as not good for our blood pressure.

    Sara T.

  2. Mark, I loved this piece, and it rang bells for me too. If you haven't already, try to get hold of Bill Bryson's 'The Life and Times of the Thunderbold Kid'.

  3. Nik, thanks, I'll check it out.