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Oh no, it's the big 60!



January 26, 2019
Saturday PM

Ketchikan, Alaska -
In a couple of weeks, something significant will happen to me.

No, I am not changing jobs, getting a new house, having more kids. None of those life altering events of significance.

jpg  Dave Kiffer

Actually, I will be doing nothing more "life changing" than waking up.

Which, of course, is usually the most strenuous thing I do most days. Getting out of bed is truly a chore, especially this time of year when everything is dark and cold and wet, and did I mention, dark and cold and wet?

I totally get now how in the old days people used to pretty much turn into bears and hibernate in the winter. You got up long enough to go the bathroom and make sure there was enough wood to keep the fire going a few more hours and then you dove back into bed (assuming you had already hunted and gathered enough to provide for winter sustenance). Winter was the time that  you shut down everything you could shut down. Then you worked like crazy during the long summer days to make up for it. That sounds so wonderful, compared to now where you do the same thing, over and over, 52 weeks a year.

What is that definition of insanity, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome?

That sure sounds like life as we know it

But I digress.

In a couple of weeks, I will wake up one morning (waaaayyyy too early, see above) and discover that I have become 60 years old. Yes, I have had nearly 22,000 days to prepare for this momentous occasion, yet I do not feel ready.

To be sure, 60 years old is not one of those "landmark" birthdays that you encounter. Like 16, 18, 21, 30, 50, etc. But it does kind of mark a passage that you can't ignore. All my life, I have thought of myself as "young." This comes from being the "baby" in the family and having older parents which meant we were always hanging out with people who were a lot older than me.

Even when I became an chronological "adult." I was often the youngest person in the room. I got used to the people around me giving me the metaphorical "pat on the head" all the time. It was an advantage in many situations because being underestimated is usually a good thing.

Even as I eventually aged, I kept a certain "youthful exuberance."  Yeah, yeah, to some people that was "immaturity."  You say "tomato," and I say "edible berry of the nightshade Solanum lycopersicum." Whatever.

That exuberance allowed me to continue to seem younger than I was. I was always asking people how old they thought I was and they were always guessing something about 10 years off, to the good.

Of course, they may have doing that intentionally to curry favor, but I prefer to think better of my fellow men and women.

Then one day, I asked a music student how old she thought I was and she nailed it.

"You are 54, Mr. Kiffer."

Later I realized that since I had graduated from high school with her mother, she had some inside knowledge there.

Which also reminds me of the time that I was teaching clarinet to an elementary aged child and she asked me how old I was and I answered honestly and she said:

"Wow, you are the same age as my grandmother."

Which was true, because I had gone on a date to the movies with her "grandmother" when we were both in eighth grade. I did not share that information with my student.

But I digress, again.

So 60 is right around the corner, assuming I can make it to the corner without the apparently required hip replacement that all my "elders" go on and on and on about.

It will require an adjustment because even when I lie to myself (it's great, I always fall for it!), I won't be able to say that 60 is "still young." And it ain't even "middle aged" because I am probably (notice the hedge there) going to make it 120. Even if 50 is the new 35, 60 is.....the new  60.

Sure, I'm a whippersnapper to some of my older friends, but I have clearly reached "geezerhood" to most of the rest of the people I deal with.

Recently, just about the only person at my work that was older than me retired. I knew she was older because she graduated the year ahead of me at Kayhi.

I had to look around to see if I was indeed now the "old guy" there. Turned out there were a couple of folks with more "seniority." But I was definitely in the "final four."

BTW, you probably shouldn't use the word "final" around people of my age. Kind of like when the airlines used to say "for those of you terminating in....." It just sets the wrong tone.
Meanwhile, I apparently continuing to age, if not well.

The other day I was met by a senior greeter at a local store. She called me sir. Senior citizens should not be calling me sir.

To make matters worse, I was at a community event recently and a person "of a certain age" offered me their seat. Do I really look that old?

Apparently so, twice in the run to Christmas "helpful" store clerks asked me if I was "tax exempt."

Sure, it would be nice to be "tax exempt." But not that the cost of adding FIVE MORE YEARS to my already substantial age.

I  previously wrote how several months ago, I was in a governmental meeting with the good folks from Senior Services and I was shocked to be reminded that they begin providing "services" to people who are 60. I could sign up for "Meals on Wheels" if I wanted!

Hey, just a few weeks ago, I was graduating from high school! I was jumping my motorcycle off the rock dunes at Whipple Creek! I was head banging to music so loud that it was drowning out jet engines!

Now, I am apparently sitting at home, waiting for Meals on Wheels. What's next? Discussing my medication schedule with my fellow bridge club members?

I have already noticed that most of the television shows I watch are paid for by a battery of drug commercials. Which means that my demographic is apparently "approaching death."

I have also written before how years with "9" in them have generally been problematic for me because I freak out more about the upcoming milestone than I do about the milestone itself.

I suspect it will be that way with 60. It will, indeed, feel no more onerous that 59. Of course, 59 has been a year in which I have sat around pondering just how danged old I am getting.

Meanwhile I will just have to continue to exercise and take whatever medications the television commercials tell me to.

Because now, I am so close to "tax exempt" status that I can almost touch it. Maybe I can get Meals on Wheels to bring my tax card to me in five years?




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Dave Kiffer is a freelance writer living in Ketchikan, Alaska.

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