With this Sunday being National Senior Citizens Day, it’s no secret that yours truly went clawing and scratching into that age bracket a while back, and I came to that realization when young people started calling me “sir.” I’m not sure who qualifies, exactly, to be elevated from a junior citizen to a senior citizen. We usually assume someone is a senior citizen because of — and I’m speaking for myself — the tell-tale signs of various and sundry wrinkles where there were no wrinkles before and those funny little spots which pop up that didn’t use to be there. And again, speaking for myself, the occasional “how did I get here?” rumination.
But really, it’s all a matter of subjection.
I can’t believe I just used the word subjection.
Age can be a testy topic for some old-timers. For example, when referring to their years on this Earth some are prone to characterizing themselves alluvially, as in “older than dirt.” To this, I must take issue.
If you ever pretended to smoke a candy cigarette, you may be old but not older than dirt.
If you can sing the theme of the Howdy Dowdy Show, you may be old but not older than dirt.
If you can correctly use the word cattywampus, you may be old but not older than dirt.
If you know what a milkman is, you may be old but not older than dirt.
If the phrase “number please” evokes a memory, you may be old but not older than dirt.
If you know the difference between wi-fi and hi-fi, you may be old but not older than dirt.
If you once paid a nickel for a bottle of Coke, you may be old but not older than dirt.
You get the picture. Oh, while we’re at it, the same reasoning goes for associating one’s age with flatulence.
At any rate, at what age is one considered senior?
AARP says it’s when you’ve cleared that 50-year hurdle (at least that’s when they start sending you mail), but you’ll also find that senior discounts at some places start at 60, in other places, it’s 65, and the fine folks at Social Security let you claim that honor at 62. There’s no consensus.
I just about decided this whole thing about defining age and aging, and youth and middle age and old age are kind of invented. Without exception, I have heard people tell me their mind and spirit and everything else in their mental wherewithal are the same even though their body has slowed down.
I’m afraid I’m close to getting too pseudo-philosophical here, so it’s time to digress.
I’ve been listening to a lot of old Beach Boys songs lately, having watched the movie about Brian Wilson, Love and Mercy, and had all but forgotten how good those little two-and-a-half-minute ditties could be. And not only that but how perfect they were for teenagers going through pangs of growing up.
They’ve got songs about fast cars, the beach, girls, parents, high school, and how hard it is to be cool. You know, typical youth angst, but pretty relatable stuff for a teenager, and a far cry from what’s on the radio in 2022. Nevertheless, I like to think a few of their bouncy and breezy songs are still relevant, even in today’s cynical rap-rhymin,’ hip-hoppy, booty-shakin’ world.
For instance, their song When I Grow Up (To Be A Man), was popular when I was something like 14 or 15 years old but the lyrics still come back to me.
“Will I dig the same things that turn me on as a kid?
Will I look back and say that I wish I hadn’t done what I did?
Will I joke around and still dig those sounds
When I grow up to be a man?”
Admittedly, there are moments when I still wonder what it would be like to grow up, just like those of us who would rather listen to the hits of the 60s and 70s as opposed to the hitmakers du jour, I guess. Or play with model train layouts as opposed to some kind of model train smartphone app. Someone once said one of the great advantages of being over 60 is that you recognize your priorities.
Senior citizens have seen a lot of things, experienced a lot of stuff and have a lot of smarts, so if an old dude gives you some advice while peeling an apple with a pocket knife and eating slices right off the blade, you should probably take it.