Getting old before my time

    A lot of people my age worry about turning into their parents.  Me?  I'm afraid I'm turning into Andy Rooney.  

    Don't get me wrong, it's okay for Andy Rooney to be Andy Rooney. But he's like 108 years old (but only looks 107).  When you get to be that age, it's an entitlement to be cranky about things.  But I feel like my whine has come before its time.

    A lot of my habits, concerns and peeves really should belong to an older man.

    My whole schedule seems to have shifted overnight.  Why, I remember when I was in college (a sure sign of getting old is by beginning a sentence with "why, I remember when . . .)   and it was perfectly acceptable to telephone someone at 1 a.m. 

    Now, if the phone rings after 7:30 I figure it must be an emergency because why else would anyone be calling that late?  I've said some things to telemarketers I can't repeat here.

    In the summer, I can't figure out why it is still light out at bedtime.

    Instead of staying up to watch David Letterman (Geez, I almost said Johnny Carson), I try and stay up to watch Dan Rather.  And I like Dan Rather because he puts me to sleep.

    Of course, I get sleepy anyway after dinner.  But it's weird, on those rare occasions where Liz and I go out to eat it looks like the other people in the restaurant are finishing their lunches.  I have to fight the urge to ask about early bird specials.

    The state of television news bugs me.  Last night -- and I'm not making this up -- the promo for the upcoming newscast was "Coming up, the latest on the war in Afghanistan  and we hear from Julia Roberts and George Clooney!" Now, to a young person, those might seem like two equally important stories.  To me, mixing them in the same sentence seems preposterous.  

    And then there's Chris Mathews who is on another of the cable news channels who ends his show with a plug for his book.  Can you imagine Walter Cronkite doing that?  

    Another thing:  Clothes.  Time should have stood still for men's fashion about the time of the Kennedy administration.  Dark, narrow ties.  Dark gray or blue suits.  White shirts.  Short hair.

    I'm sick of waiting for ties to get narrow again.  For a while, it seemed like they were going back and forth from skinny to wide, but they've been wide a long time.  Okay, not as wide as those funky one in the 70's that doubled as shirts, but still too wide.  It's been so long since they were skinny,  the thrift stores where I used to look for narrow ties are only selling wide ones.  

    Men should wear ties.  I like seeing the photos of Roger Maris breaking the home run record because most of the men in the ballpark were wearing ties.  It was a classier time.  If I go see a ballgame these days, I'm happy if I don't have to look at someone's armpits.

    And hats.  Gentlemen wore hats.  They went somewhere and someone would say, "May I take your hat?"  Cary Grant wore hats. Real hats, not silly caps with logos or political views on them.       

    If hats came back, I would wear a hat.  I would wear a hat even though my head looks funny in a hat.  The only hat that looks halfway decent on me is a ski mask.

    Other little things bug me a lot:  I'm sure it saves manufacturers some money,  but do the the instructions for everything really need to come in seventeen languages?  I'll be sitting there trying to figure out how to work a new camera or a telephone or something, turn the page of the instructions and it will be in German or Spanish or Japanese.  By the time I find the right page, I've forgotten what the problem was.

    That's if I can open the package to get the product out to begin with.  There's this kind of plastic packaging that looks like two clear halves fused together.  It seems like you should just be able to pull them apart to open the thing, but Hercules himself could not tear the the thing asunder.  I have to use a knife and almost always get blood all over everything. 

    Now, it's great that scientists are out there finding cures for diseases and mapping out chromosomes, but I want to know why certain tendencies just start appearing.  Vocabulary changes.  People you don't like cease to become weenies and dorks and instead become whippersnappers.  Where is the gene for that and how to you turn it off?  

    Listen Ponce, the Fountain of Youth would be great, but I just want to stop phrases like "Don't sass me" from coming out of my mouth.

    Yeah, this getting old thing is bumming me out.  In fact, it's bumming me out that I'm feeling like I'm too old to say "bumming me out."

    But there could be a bright side.  Maybe Andy Rooney will invite me over for dinner some night.  We could talk about getting enough fiber.  Andy, if you're listening, I like to eat at five.

December 1, 2001