I wouldn’t ordinarily mention that today is my birthday, but this one has a zero in it, and they’re considered significant. After all, we usually only get seven or eight of those even if things go well.
Aging is hard to accept, so my fellow Boomers have worked out a few ways to pretend it’s not happening. My favorite is, “50 is the new 40.” Which makes me the new 50. Katie sent me a birthday card with “Old Geeze” crossed out on the envelope, replaced by “Dad” and a heart.
I’m trying to gauge my birthday distress by comparing it with the other big ones, but I don’t remember my 40th or my 50th, which is another sign that this is my 60th.
I remember my 30th, though. I felt bad that day. Thirty was the birthday my generation had fastened on as the crossover from vital life to ossified hypocrisy.
If I felt bad then, I should feel twice as bad today. But while you won’t find me doing my Gene Kelly impression, I’ve found a few positives.
For one thing, I accomplished more from 30 to 60 than I did from 0 to 30. At this rate, given time, I might do something just right.
Also, I could look worse. I know this because as my birthday approached I went unshaven for five days to see what would happen. My beard came in patchy and scraggly, just as it did in college, only now it’s white — the kind of beard that makes people say, “Too bad about him, he just gave up.”
The key is to keep shaving. The hair on my head is still mostly brown, so without the stubble I can pass for 59. I can. I think I can.
More bright side: I’m still here. Anyone my age can look back to at least three past occasions and marvel that he/she survived. I think this is why oldsters sometimes get a momentary rush of joy. Here I still am, and look at that beautiful sky.
And I still have goals to aspire to — if not, perhaps, the lofty goals of youth. The “Wrinkliest Man in the World” crown is mine for the taking if I last another decade; I’ve made great strides toward the title in recent years. And I still get around pretty good. I might clean out the garage someday, or catch that mouse in our shed. I might even live to see the Cubs take the World Series, if I can make it till I’m the new 90.
SHERWOOD KIRALY is a Laguna Beach resident. He has written four novels, three of which were critically acclaimed. His novel, “Diminished Capacity,” is now available in bookstores, and the film version is available on DVD.