Friday, September 20, 2019

Monster Dad Turns 50!

Incredibly appropriate button I picked up at a yard sale last week
 So, I was trying to think of some sort of deep, interesting, funny or pithy title for this post ("50 Happens!", "Half a Century of Monster Dad", "Monster Senior Citizen", Monster Dad Joins AARP"...). But in the end, just stating the fact in a straightforward way seemed to be the best course of action. The title pretty much says it all.

Today's Google Doodle celebrating my birthday--thanks Google!

So, a year ago today I turned forty-nine. While I tried to comfort myself at the time by saying that I was still "in my forties", in reality it was the beginning of a year-long journey that I knew would culminate with me turning fifty. As the days and months slipped by that ending seemed to be approaching faster and faster. Today is that day. The day I turned fifty. The funny thing is that if it weren't for the human invention of the concept of time, today would be just another day. True, we all age, and I'd still be getting older and would indeed be the exact same fifty-year-old today (just without the number asociated with it)--even without our idea of "Time". But at least without clocks, calendars and the concept of time it would just be a continuous journey without the scary reminders of our aging that are birthdays. Every day would be just another day like the one before it--but just a teeny-tiny bit different. Instead we are reminded once each year that another number has been added to our age. Yesterday I was forty-nine. Today I feel the same as yesterday. But according to the calendar I have now entered a new decade of my life. I'm apparently vastly different than I was yesterday.

As a kid I enjoyed the fact that my age increased one number each year at my birthday. It meant I was getting closer to that magic world of adulthood and all the fun, money and freedom that it entailed. Then I actually did start getting into those adult years...and I wished that the numbers would stop being added to my age--or at least slow down! As the number continues to increase, and the number of years I have left decreases, it seems that the years keep going by faster and faster. One of those illogical paradoxes of time: when you're young time crawls, as you get older time flies.

Celebrating turning 40 with The Little Monster at our Back Yard Drive-In Party

Ten years ago I turned forty (an event chronicled in The Oak Street Drive-In back in 2011). That seemed like a big number at the time. I guess it's all in your perspective though. Forty seems so danged YOUNG to me now! You hear people all the time saying that "forty is the new thirty", "fifty is the new forty" and so on. It kind of seems to ring true to some extent. When I was a kid I thought people in high school looked like (and were) adults. People in their twenties were REALLY adults. And people in their thirties were...well...old. Once you got into the forties, fifties and beyond it all kind of melded together into a world of geezers with wrinkles, age spots, arthritis, thinning, grey or NO hair and a host of other symptoms of being old. When I actually got into my twenties people in their thirties didn't seem so "old". Now that I'm fifty, people in their thirties seem like kids.

And the funny thing is that, for the most part, I don't really FEEL like I'm fifty--or at least what my mind says I should be feeling like at fifty. Sure there have been a lot of changes over the years and I definitely feel a little different than I did as a kid. But I certainly don't FEEL like I'm OLD. And it seems that hitting the magic number fifty, "The Big Five-Oh", is really kind of hitting me hard. Going from the mid- to late-forties was sort of tough, but at least it was STILL the forties! I may have only entered the FIFTIES today...but I'm definitely there and there's no turning back!

I will say that, while I don't necessarily FEEL like I'm getting old, looking into the mirror has become an increasingly difficult and strange experience over the past twenty years or so. The person looking back at me in the mirror has DEFINITELY changed a lot. That person doesn't look anywhere near as young as I feel sometimes. Who IS that person and why won't he let me see the person I used to see when I looked in the mirror? Am I just in denial? Is this what everyone feels?

September 20th, 1969. That's the day I was born. I've written quite a bit about the 50th anniversary of the summer of 1969 over the past few months (the moon landing, Woodstock and all the other historic events that took place over that summer). In each post I mentioned that I wasn't actually BORN until after the summer of 1969. I think that was kind of a way to allow me to feel a little younger about myself. But in reality I was born just about a month after that summer ended (and technically I guess that September 20th is actually still considered to be part of the summer, according to the calendar). Even though I was only a newborn baby and only around for the last three months or so of the decade I've always been kind of proud to say that I was "born in the 60s". There's no doubt that I was a child of the 70s and a teenager in the 80s, but it was still true that I was BORN in the 60s. Lately I haven't been feeling quite so proud of that fact. I can say that I'm NOT a Baby Boomer. But the time has long passed since being a member of the generation that followed the Boomers, Generation X, was considered to be cool. There have been a couple more cool generations since then--Generation Y (the Millennials) and Generation Z--who have become the hip crowd. Now us Gen Xers have been relegated to old people status.

The sun rises on my fiftieth year
Well, whatever I think about it, I'm indeed fifty as of today. It's something I'll have to deal with and (hopefully) make peace with. The good news is that life still goes on. I'm still here. I still have the same interests. I still have my family. I'm still Monster Dad for our two girls (even if they're not such "Little" Monsters anymore). The bad news is that this is the year I need to schedule a colonoscopy. ...But, let's not think about that just now. For now, let's just keep thinking young. Let's just try to enjoy life--even if it starts getting harder to remember things. Even if it starts getting harder to see things. Even if it starts getting harder to hear things. Even if it starts to seem like it's getting easier and easier to act like a grumpy old man. I just have to keep the right frame of mind. I think Jimmy Durante might have said it best...

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