Learn­ing to ap­pre­ci­ate the joy of agin’

Kent County News - - OPINION - RICK KOLLINGER

Sun­day was my birth­day. I’m 69.

I don’t know how this hap­pened. I think I should be about 25, my sense of hu­mor would in­di­cate that I’m ill and my body is some­where in the 120- to 130-year-old range.

I used to be the youngest one in my high school class. Now when I go some­where, I’m the old­est one there. I gen­er­ally only see my for­mer class­mates at the hospi­tal, phar­macy or fu­ner­als.

Be­ing born be­tween Christ­mas and New Year’s used to evoke sym­pa­thy from peo­ple who thought my birth­day was “over­looked.” I think the op­po­site oc­curred and I re­ceived more at­ten­tion due to the odd cir­cum­stances. I never felt the need to share this with any­one, though, and was quite happy — and still am — to whine about be­ing “over­looked.”

Whin­ing is al­ways an ex­cel­lent tac­tic in get­ting your own way; look at Congress.

I share my birth­day with Sandy Ko­ufax, Tiger Woods, and Le­Bron James. Three of us are ex­cel­lent ath­letes.

It feels strange be­ing old. I think things started go­ing bad when I turned 40. I had to get up in the mid­dle of the night and, get­ting out of bed, things started to fall off. This is an un­for­tu­nate trend that has con­tin­ued.

I’m do­ing all I can not to age poorly. I don’t keep hard candy in dishes for guests. I don’t have mul­ti­ple cats. I don’t raise ei­ther hy­drangeas or African vi­o­lets. I haven’t yet taken to wear­ing sus­penders although I’m af­flicted with East­ern Shore Male Body (ESMB), which is no butt and a pro­trud­ing belly. This makes me choose restau­rants with padded seats over any par­tic­u­lar food choices.

I have no­ticed that when I men­tion places that friends may want to visit my ref­er­ences are 30 years out of date and the charm­ing lit­tle out-ofthe-way bar/restau­rant has long been de­mol­ished, to be re­placed with high-rise con­do­minium com­plexes and chain restau­rants.

When I go down­town, I see what used to be there and not what’s there now. This is help­ful in giv­ing di­rec­tions. “Well you go to where the hard­ware store used to be and take a right, down past where Mc­Crory’s used to be and then take an­other right at where Price’s Tire Cen­ter was and go a cou­ple blocks past the old fire­house and it’s right on the left where the ar­mory was.” This is not help­ful to vis­i­tors.

Be­ing old gives you a cer­tain right to cur­mud­geon­li­ness, which I em­brace.

Of course, this leaves you open to older peo­ple say­ing, “69? that’s not old.” These are the same peo­ple who tell you it’s not cold when it’s 20 de­grees be­low zero.

I don’t un­der­stand cell phones. I still think it’s rude to have them up to your ear or to be tap­ping on them when you’re out to din­ner.

I’m not sure who thought of the idea of putting cam­eras on them. As ir­ri­tat­ing as go­ing to some­one’s house and hav­ing to watch home movies of their va­ca­tion to “South of the Bor­der” was, it wasn’t as bad as hav­ing to stand there while some­one flips through 20,000 pic­tures on their cell phone.

I do like re­mote con­trols, though. I re­mem­ber the first one we ever had. It was a space-age gold color and when you pressed the but­ton, mak­ing a sat­is­fy­ing “zzzzt” noise, the screen would go blank and then af­ter a few sec­onds, a new chan­nel would ap­pear. Amaz­ing.

Also amaz­ing are the new, light­weight kinky hoses that shrink up when you turn the wa­ter off. Mine tend to spring leaks over time and I’m now on my fifth in­car­na­tion of the “new, im­proved, kinky hose.”

I also like the in­di­ca­tor lights on my car, which tell me when my tire pres­sure is low, etc. I wish I’d been im­planted with them at birth to help give me an in­di­ca­tion what parts of my body were go­ing bad.

Still, all in all, it’s a priv­i­lege to get old.

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