by The Silver Fox (aka Douglas Page) ©
I knew if I lived long enough something like this would
happen. Last week I turned 55. Officially, I'm now a Senior Citizen. I'm unaware of any meaningful advantage
this implies other than box boys have begun to ask if they can help me carry the groceries to the car.
I remember when my Dad started to get old. He
didn't look much different to us, but we could tell something odd was happening because he seemed suddenly to start speaking
in Spoonerisms. "Cass the parrots," he'd say when what he meant was "Pass the carrots", or "Shhh, this is an impartant port"
when he meant "important part".
It doesn't help to see this coming. Previous birthdays
do not condition one properly for the onset of antiquity. The pleasant birthdays of one's youth dwindle quickly in importance,
after the passing of such eagerly anticipated milestones as a drivers license, R-Rated movies, and registering to vote. Most
birthdays after that suffer from no significance whatsoever and should probably be avoided altogether.
After enough of them they aren't so much anticipated as
survived. Eventually all of them are dreaded.
I'm in the dreaded phase. The chief consequence of yesterday's
birthday is that I'll be getting mail from AARP. It's not the same as being able to legally buy beer or be elected president.
My wife tried to console me by reminding me of the perks
that come automatically now: Early Bird dinner specials. Senior discount bus fares. Movies for the same price as students.
No thanks. I'd rather pay. The only advantage I can see
is that now I can join the Acid Reflux Lunch Bunch - the row of old boys with prostate issues bellied up to the end of the
counter nearest the men's room at Denny's.
Photographer Richard Avedon was on Charlie Rose the other
night saying there wasn't one good thing about getting old. Not one. He's right.
I mean, what possible joy can there be in going deaf, senile,
gray, and incontinent? Even if you feel okay and they still let you drive at night, your looks give you away. My hair now
is the color of moon dirt and the beard I'm trying to grow was once used by an Angora goat. I feel fine and most of my mind
never got out of the ninth grade but for some bizarre reason people have started speaking louder and holding the door open
I went on a Tums run to the local Rite Aid drug store after
the birthday dinner and dessert, and the cheery, plump young woman at the counter checking my identification for the check
I'd just written said loudly, "Did you know it's your birthday?"
Now, there are many things I don't know and a lot I've
forgotten, but I've never missed my own birthday. My first wife forgot it one year, but that's another story.
It was a little embarrassing, standing there in front of
several other shoppers who were waiting to pay for their wrapping paper and Christmas lights being asked if I knew it was
"Maybe that explains all the goddamn balloons in the house
today", I said with a practiced Dick Smothers look of incomprehension.
The joke flew off wildly, missing the mark badly.
I guess she was no better at math than at tact because
then she said, again too loudly, "How old are you, anyway?" She looked at me over her glasses, actually expecting
Well, there's not really a good answer to that anymore
so I turned and did a slow Jack Benny take, hoping to find an ally in the group behind me, but this gesture was likewise
lost on a yuppie family in their matching Izod shirts anxious to get home to decorate the tree. They drew closer together
and just starred at me with a look that said any man who doesn't know it's his own birthday would probably touch a child
Before I could generate much indignation I made it worse
and confirmed their senility assumptions all in one great geriatric sweep when I walked off without the collection of Tums
I had just purchased.
Just as I had reached the door, the cheery, plump young
woman waved the bag and shouted, "Sir, you forgot your Tums."
Now, everyone in the front of the store turned in unison
to watch, like they had all gone on Dotage Alert simultaneously. Too bad I wasn't buying condoms.
The yuppie family grinned slightly, only the smiles contained
more pity than compassion and I suspect one or two of the younger ones wondered how geezers like me manage to find our way
home in the dark.
It's not all bad, though. My wife is right about that.
Just a few weeks ago I went to see my son's punk band play at the Whiskey in Hollywood. Like any proud father I showed up
with a camera, and managed to elbow my way across the mosh pit to take a few pictures.
On the way out, struggling against the spool of teenage
bodies wound tightly against the stage, one of the girls perched on the ledge leaned forward, squeezed the back of my
neck and with a sexy, wet voice whispered something that sounded exactly like "Silver Fox" in my ear.
Meezers can get a lot of gilage out of something like that.