The Washington Times-Herald

Columns

April 26, 2014

50 is just a number (a really big number)

Shortly after this newspaper hits the streets, I will be celebrating my 50th birthday. As the very last of the baby boomers to reach this milestone, I doubt I will get much sympathy from my already much older peer group.

I know at 50 I get two things — an AARP card and an attitude.

However, I also realize it is good point to reflect back a little bit. I realize I’m now as old as Abe Vigoda was when he made the Godfather (and four years older than Brando was at the same point). I’m older than both the Godfather and his lieutenant Tessio? One should never be as old as Abe Vigoda at any point in their life.

When my own grandfather was 50 he was already an old man who wore a grey fedora and a gray suit every day. I think he wore a tie into the shower. In his defense, he looked good and never seemed to mind that he was wearing a heavy wool suit in a house without air conditioning — in July. I believe the life expectancy for a man back then was 63. If I was forced to dress like that while picking up lint that the “electric sweeper left behind” or complaining about the milkman and the “ice box” I may have looked very forward to that 63rd birthday.

So is 50 the new 40? Heck no, it’s the new 17. How do I know this? Because what we now consider dressing for “casual Friday”, my father would have considered dressing for gym class.

I think one thing is for sure, people our age are a lot more self-absorbed than previous generations. I would say expectations are very different from 50 years ago. We now live under the belief system that one gets rid of things once they start to bore them. The disposable nature of our society now equates broken with boredom. We rarely wear anything out anymore, fashion dictates function today. Can you imagine your great-grandparents standing in a long line to change their buggy whips, just because buggy whip 2.0 just came out with the new colors for the handle?

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