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Shell Shocked: Getting older

By ART STEVENS - | Jan 26, 2021


What’s that expression — getting older isn’t for sissies? Whoever coined that term was right on. No matter what age you’re at you’re still getting older.

Some of us remember various milestones of aging. For example, getting that draft card way back when that you had to carry around with you to get into bars and meet girls. Every male over the age of eighteen had a draft card whether you were in the service or not. You needed to produce it to prove that you were old enough to guzzle beer, drive a car, get a job, and get called up for active duty.

A draft card was a badge of honor to prove that you were old enough to go out with Betty Ann who might have thought you were nothing but a pimply teenager without it. The card proved that you were a pimply young adult instead.

Another aging milestone was your first colonoscopy. Who could ever forget that? Young people don’t even think about it until they reach a certain age when their physicians tell them it would be a good idea to start on a lifelong series. Colonoscopies are not exactly baptisms of fire into middle age but a more than gentle reminder of the aging process.

Another aging milestone was the official title of senior citizen to enable you to get into movie theaters at lower prices. I remember the first time I decided to avail myself of lower ticket prices. I came prepared with a passport, driver’s license, a notarized statement from my high school gym teacher and a weary expression. I was ready to produce all of these to purchase my very first senior citizen movie ticket but the ticket taker merely punched out a ticket for me with no questions asked. What a downer.

I thought to myself that I should have tried becoming a senior citizen at age thirty-five. Imagine how much money I could have saved — if I were able to get away with it. Another aging milestone is when you realize that you can’t drink the way you once did as a strapping young adult. The nights out with the boys aren’t what they were many years ago. In your twenties you’re chasing girls. In your thirties you’re chasing bowling balls. In your forties you’re chasing stray charcoals that have fallen out of the grill.

In your fifties you’re chasing reading glasses that seem to always disappear. In your sixties you’re chasing bocce balls. We’ll stop there.

But the most distressing aging milestone of all is the hair on your head — or lack of it. How long can you rearrange the styling of your hair to cover all the areas that used to grow hair? Haven’t you witnessed some amazing hair styles that have been so inventive to try to cover the entire scalp as to be comical?

And those resourceful hair pieces were known affectionately as wigs and rugs. How many men do you know who have tried desperately to appear to have all their hair and suddenly show up one day totally bald? These men made the gutsy, heart wrenching decision to play it like it is and not to pretend anymore.

Behind these desperate men are realistic women who have urged them to give up their pretenses and have a more natural look. After all, what is worse — wearing an ill-fitting “rug” or simply losing your hair through the aging process? One day I’ll do a survey and ask both men and women of a certain age what they think of men who pretend to have a full head of hair at any cost.

Of course, the most dramatic milestone of aging is death. But since this is a humor column, we won’t go there.

Instead we’ll part with just one more aging milestone — remembering exactly where you were and what you were doing fifty years ago to the day. It was January 1971. Some of you may not even have been born yet while others were already adults. Some of the highlights of January 1971 include the 16-13 Super Bowl victory of Baltimore over Dallas; the debut of “All in the Family” on TV; Charles Manson was found guilty of murder; Apollo 14 lifted off; and George Harrison released the single “My Sweet Lord” in the United Kingdom.

But the most important aging milestone for most of you in 1971 is the purchase of your first used car. Did you ever think back then that you would be able to afford brand new cars as time went on? Given the economic downturn of the past year the answer is still probably not. Age well, my friends.