How I Know That I Am Getting Older

I recall once when I was barely thirty hearing my father describe himself as in his “later fifties.” “What am I going to feel and look like when I’m that old?” I wondered—then immediately dismissed the question since me in my “later fifties” sounded like something in a futuristic fantasy. Guess what? That future is here, so much so that this is my last year of my “later fifties.”imagesCAL3HKNZ

A couple of years ago a colleague told me “it’s time for me to retire, Vance.” I asked her why—“because I don’t like the students anymore,” she replied. That strikes me as a very good reason for a professor to retire. My colleague is probably eight or nine years older than I am. I don’t think I will ever get to the point where I don’t like my students—my plan is to die in the classroom at age ninety or so—but I have recently been noticing a few signs that I am getting older. Here are a few from the past few months.

The Good WifeI know I’m getting older when Super Bowl Sunday is an annoyance because it means that “True Detective” and “The Good Wife” will not be on. At least “Downton Abbey” had the guts to compete with the game.

I know I’m getting older when a new friend asks me how old my “boys” are and I say “33 and 36.”  I still refer to them as the “midgets” (they got their mother’s vertically-challenged genes and are both several inches shorter than I am).

untitledI know I’m getting older because here is how I react to the inexplicable recent insistence that each winter storm be named: “When I was a kid growing up in Vermont, we had real storms, not these wimpy posers! We didn’t name our storms because there were so many of them that we would have run out of names in one year! And if we had named them, they would not have had pussy names like “Nika” or “Janus” (or was that “Anus”?). Our storms would have had names like “Winter Storm Buryyouuptoyourfreakingeyeballs” and “Winter Storm Freezeyourfuckingassoff”!328833_original

I know I am getting older because I would rather watch skiing in the Winter Olympics or World Championships than go skiing myself.

I know I am getting older when I not only am not the slightest bit tempted to watch the Grammy awards, but do not recognize the names of a single group or solo act in the list of winners online the next day.Picard

I know that I’m getting older because I felt more manly when I found out from the “Which Star Trek: The Next Generation character are you?” personality quiz that I am Captain Picard.

Which Star Trek: The Next Generation character are you?

really fat squirrelSpeaking of such quizzes, I know I am getting older because I felt smug and superior when I found out from the “What Arbitrary Thing Are You?” quiz that I am “a really fat squirrel” rather than the “box of dead AA batteries,” “a bunch of random hangers” or “Baha men” results that some of my Facebook friends got.

Which arbitrary thing are you?

Albigensian crusadeI know that I’m getting older when my reaction to a snow day off from work is to be pissed because my lecture on the Albigensian Crusade is cancelled. How are my nineteen year old students supposed to live a flourishing and successful life now?

I know that I’m getting older because this past winter, during an different storm, the thought crossed my mind that “Maybe I’ll stay home and watch the Friars play basketball on TV rather than driving downtown in the snow to see them play.” I know that I’m not getting that old because five seconds later I thought “What the hell is wrong with you?? Get your ass in the car and go to the game!” which I did, then sent smug Facebook posts from the Dunkin’ Donuts Center to my friends and colleagues who had stayed home.retirement

I know that I’m getting older because when Jeanne and I realized that our mortgage will be paid off when we are both seventy, I thought for the first time in my life “That might be a reasonable time to retire.” Retire?? Retire?? I thought I was going to die in the classroom at ninety! Fortunately I have a bit under eleven years to seventy—more than enough time to come to my senses.

5 thoughts on “How I Know That I Am Getting Older

  1. David Kennedy

    You’ll know you’re getting older when you no longer want to play the pipe organ; which will never happen! Which is a good thing!

  2. Vaughn

    agree with everything you put here!! I’m focusing on 70 also overall; as for skiing, your comment is correct, although I still really want to go again, but after the major hamstring injury skiing a few years ago (that’s never fully healed), PLUS Rufus accidentally blowing out my knee on the SAME leg a year ago (which I think I’ve fully recovered from, but never really tested), I begin to realize that I shouldn’t go back skiing until I’ve made an least a feeble attempt to be in a bit better shape. Plus, at the ER, I see 65-75 year olds who are good skiers that come in with multiple broken ribs etc from a relatively minor fall–like my surgical buddy said on one of those days, “we just don’t bounce as well anymore.” Nuff said!!

  3. Chris Mark

    I don’t need to see comments like these when I am going skiing next weekend. I did just buy a helmet for the first time, though, so if I injure myself (again) it won’t be to the noggin.

  4. The Rev. Marsue Harris

    I just arrived at 75 and really don’t know how that happened. Our bodies make us increasingly aware of ageing, but it mostly sneaks up on us in small doses, thank God. For example, I realized I no longer enjoyed grinding coffee beans every morning. So, instead of holding the line, I retired my 40 year old grinder. I have found it freeing to skip this step in the morning ritual and my daily cups of organic, fair trade Mexican coffee have not suffered it seems. I shall stay vigilant as to the state of my soul, however, for if I am tempted to give up fair trade and organic that will be much more serious.

  5. Gail Philport

    As much as I loved my job and the people I worked with at PC for 30 years, I highly recommend retirement! There’s just something nice about being able to do what you want when you want. It’s just another stage of life!


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