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Wine or vinegar?

The surest way to know that you are old is to listen to your children.

My young son was watching pedestrians as we slowly drove through town. A distinguished senior on a conversational walk showed a careful gate, grey hair, and a braggable number of laugh lines. My son loudly noted, “Wow, he’s older than old.” I quickly drove away.

Decades ago, I was first called “old” when a girl caught me looking at a magazine cover displaying Rachel Welch (boy, I am old). The kid called me a dirty old man. Hey, KID, old had nothing to do with it.

I was next called “old” at my wedding. Some well-wisher (I should have punched him) referred to me as my bride’s “old man.” I can think of a lot of things I want my wife to think of me, but not as an old man.

If bald is a sign of growing old, then my acceleration began when my first child was born. Wet diapers, dirty diapers, fountains without diapers, meals going in and back out, and crying at volume 10 were all balanced with a miniscule fist grabbing my finger, bright eyes studying my face for hours, burbling cooing after an ear-splitting belch, and sleeping on my shoulder until my arm fell asleep. Now I’m older and look forward to doing it all over again, but with grandchildren.

Remember when you were young and thought 30 was over-the-hill? Now over-the-hill is always 20-30 years older than I am. Some classic references to age are: He’s older than dirt. Were you sad when the last dinosaur died? Of course he’s good at math, he has to count candles. Methuselah was his younger brother. He actually knows who Roy Rogers was. He didn’t have to take history class, there wasn’t one. You’ve heard of pre-history, well, his nickname is Pre. He gave up hot peppers for prunes. He gave up vodka for Geritol. Is he continant, well, that Depends. He has more miles on him than a road map. He was born in the old country – Pangaea. He owns the historical cherry-tree axe that George Washington used; of course over the years the head had to be replaced twice and the handle replaced six times. The younger generation thinks you are ancient if you think the greatest modern convenience is running water.

If you see a mother and daughter together, ask if they are sisters; that way you will thrill the mother and mortify the daughter.

Some words and phrases I still use show how old I am: barber, straight-razor, 3-speed on the tree, buzz-bike, banana seat, fuzzy dice, necking, painting the town red, trip the light fantastic, spooning, courting, flapjacks, rumble seat, built like a brick out-house, bi-focals, waisted, comb-over, please and thank you, dog’s life, The Lone Ranger and The Green Hornet, Peyton Place, hope chest, Mr. Atlas, the Cold War, Pac-Man, keep talking because it’s your quarter.

If I am getting older, I hope that I am like a fine wine that does not turn to vinegar, but grows sweeter and better with time.