55 and a Fond Farewell
Unlike Sammy Hagar, I can drive 55, although that is not advised when you are driving on the interstate with an eighteen wheeler tailgating you. And in three weeks, I will turn 55.
I feel so old just saying I will be 55. In just a decade, I will be ready for Social Security, senior citizen discounts, shuffleboard tournaments, and Geritol. I will probably start loving the smell of prune juice in the morning and eating creamed chicken and cauliflower for dinner. And I am afraid someday I will lose my virility. Even though I consider myself as a man who is still young enough to play the night games and old enough to know all of the scores, I fear that I will more interested looking at a gaggle of demure Little Sisters of Poor than a gaggle of naked porn stars.
When you get to be my age, you become like your parents–you start reminiscing about your youth. Kids, I know this is almost impossible to believe, but I can remember when color TV was a novelty; Richard Nixon was president; Henry Aaron and Willie Mays were banging out home runs; Tiny Tim was a singer, not the character in A Christmas Carol; astronauts walked on the moon; Michael Jackson was a fresh-faced, happy-go-lucky youngster; Ed Sullivan had a “really big shew” nearly every Sunday evening; professors, Pentagon wonks, and Mission Control rocket scientists were about the only people to use computers; people sent their correspondence through the mail; Star Wars and Planet of the Apes were in the movie theaters for the first time; and about the only way an Ordinary Joe could express his views to the general public was to be hired as newspaper columnist (which usually didn’t happen) or write letters to the editor.
And did I forget I can recall when Mick Jagger and Keith Richards didn’t look like the California Prunes, Jan Brady looked good with those granny glasses, people went berserk over Pet Rocks and Cabbage Patch dolls, people said “groovy” and “far out” in nearly every sentence, and a Clinton (Bill, not the Hill) was running for president?
Unquestionably, I hate transforming into an old-timer. My hair turns grayer every day, I already have a set of partial dentures, and several of my nieces and nephews call me Great Uncle Joe. I wish I was the second coming of Ponce De Leon and find the Fountain of Youth–or at least live on a planet where a fiftysomething person is considered to be a young whippersnapper.
One sure sign you are turning old is when one of your childhood superstar celebrities has died. In just the past few months, David Bowie, Prince, and Glenn Frey have passed away. And now, Muhammad Ali is no longer with us.
In a post I wrote several years, I explained that as a child, I was never an Ali fan. I desperately wanted Joe Frazer, George Foreman, Larry Holmes, Leon Spinks, even Chuck “the Bayonne Bleeder” Wepner and Jean-Pierre Coopman (the so-called Lion of Flanders who boxed more like the Cowardly Lion) to knock Ali’s block off and shut him up for good. I didn’t like Ali not because of his politics or his religious beliefs; rather, I though he was an annoying athletic braggart like Joe Namath and Reggie Jackson.
But as I grew older, I realized that not only Ali may had been right all along when he said he was the greatest fighter of all time, he was a great human being through his humanitarian work. And boxing, especially at the heavyweight level, has never been as glamorous or as captivating since Ali retired after the Trevor Berbick fight in 1981. Even though I enjoy watching the fistic sport and occasionally read The Ring website, I can’t name all of the heavyweight champs running around nowadays.
Farewell, Ali. May you reign as the Greatest in Boxing Heaven.
Joe’s Maybe Memorable Quote of the Day
You are definitely old when you always talk about the past in your present.