Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Choosing Old

 

I’m 54 years old; next year I will start qualifying for senior discounts, not to mention some retirement benefits. On the other hand, I don’t look my age; I still have plenty of hair, most of which is dark brown, and the people I work with probably don’t realize I was hired when they were still in grade school. I’m comfortable with technology, I’ve seen the latest memes, and I know how to use emoji.

The point is, I could go either way. I’m no millennial, but I can pass for young-ish. On the other hand, I remember when Nixon resigned; I was there when Star Wars premiered, and I bought Synchronicity when it was at the top of the charts. I have one foot in the Baby Boomer generation, the other in Generation X, and I can talk the language of the millennials if I have to.

I still feel plenty young, and it’s a bit surprising to me when I do the math and realize that, wherever “the hill” is, I probably crested it some time ago. But the older I get, the more OK I am with that.

Lately I’ve been catching up on the Netflix series The Kominsky Method. The most remarkable thing about the show is that its two stars, Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin, are aged 75 and 85, respectively. Never mind the fact that much of the humor is about prostate problems, wayward adult children, and waning careers; what I enjoy most about the show is the simple fact that these guys are seasoned actors who know what they’re doing. There are any number of shows out there where I can see sexy twentysomethings trading trendy catchphrases, but there is something refreshing about seeing a couple of guys who are genuinely masters of their craft.

But I suppose it’s more than just that. Another favorite of mine is Clint Eastwood’s movie Gran Torino, in which he plays a crotchety old man who is quite resolutely out of step with the times he lives in. The only mainstream network shows I still watch are NCIS (in which Mark Harmon plays a throwback who barely knows how to use a cell phone) and Blue Bloods (in which Tom Selleck plays the conservative patriarch of an Irish Catholic family devoted to law and order). Meanwhile, I have never watched a single episode of This Is Us.

More and more, movies and TV shows like these feel comfortable to me. I suppose this happens with every generation: just as the younger generation decides they have little use for the old folks, the old folks decide they have little use for the young ones. At this point, I’d rather cast my lot with Leroy Jethro Gibbs, Frank Reagan, and Sandy Kominsky than with … well, whoever the latest millennial hero is, I don’t even know. I’d rather be seen as an experienced (if crotchety) professional with wisdom to share than as a promising newcomer: been there, done that, and frankly, being an experienced professional pays better.

Hip young people like to roll their eyes and ridicule old people who don’t “get it,” who aren’t hip and trendy. But as I’ve gotten older I’ve realized that the old people are perfectly aware of this, and they don’t care; they roll their eyes just as much and ridicule the arrogant young people who think they have it all figured out. Let the youngsters think they have all the answers. We have one advantage they can never match: we used to be them, and we got over it.

I don’t really think I’m old yet. But I’m actually kinda looking forward to it.

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There are 38 comments.

  1. Arahant Member

    Years ago I read a numerology book that did a lot of calculations based on age. One of the ideas they had was that lifetimes break down into three ages:

    • 0-27 Years of Youth—A time of learning and mastering.
    • 28-54 Years of Power—The height of a career.
    • 55-81 Years of Wisdom—The years in life where one shares wisdom with those younger.
    • 81+ Years of Youth again —You’re taken care of by others as all the strength you gained and wisdom fails you.

    Welcome to your Years of Wisdom.

    • #1
    • November 8, 2019, at 11:21 PM PST
    • 12 likes
  2. Arahant Member

    Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr.: We have one advantage they can never match: we used to be them, and we got over it.

     Heh, very true, although some more than others.

    • #2
    • November 8, 2019, at 11:22 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  3. Clifford A. Brown Contributor

    Blue Bloods every week, and Tom Selleck in any of the Jessie Stone series of cable TV movies.

    • #3
    • November 9, 2019, at 12:50 AM PST
    • 10 likes
  4. Hartmann von Aue Member

    You´re only three years ahead of my and I can really identify with the thoughts and sentiments you express here. All of my maternal uncles fought in WWII and I grew up with their stories being repeated at family reunions and their movies playing on TV, therefore I naturally gravitated toward their culture and their values. But I also grew up with my older sisters´ 60´s music and lived through the 70s and 80s – got the pre-release Kenner Star Wars action figures when they were new, saw Anwar Sadat assassinated live on TV, etc., and enjoy the grace of very gradual aging. Most people who see me think I´m about 30. But I chose to identify with the generation that realizes its did not invent its virtues but learned them and tested them. 

    • #4
    • November 9, 2019, at 1:33 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  5. Belt Member

    I turn fifty in January. I sometimes say that I’m 49 going on 67.

    • #5
    • November 9, 2019, at 5:09 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  6. DonG (skeptic) Coolidge

    For people on the generational boundary, age of parents and birth order is a good a tie breaker. I am Gen-X, but I have older siblings (Gen-W=Boomer) and older parents (Gen-V), so my childhood was very Boomer-like. 

    • #6
    • November 9, 2019, at 5:10 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  7. Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… Thatcher

    Welcome aboard!

    • #7
    • November 9, 2019, at 5:46 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  8. The Great Adventure! Member

    Congratulations! You’ve just passed Level 1 of your Old Curmudgeon certification. 

    I hit 60 last month. I have a 25 year old daughter who keeps me mostly up to date on music & culture but I wonder some times if I’ll become hopelessly clueless once she starts becoming a fogey. Her 30 yr old brother is already there. Truth be told, I think he was there before he left high school. 

    But I’m thoroughly enjoying the wisdom years. And I keep being shown appreciation for it from younger colleagues. It’s a good phase of life!

    • #8
    • November 9, 2019, at 6:50 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  9. KentForrester Coolidge

    I fall into Arahant’s fourth category, 81 years and older. According to the characteristics of this category, people are now supposed to take care of me. Hell, I’m waiting for my kids to pick up the check at restaurants.

     

    • #9
    • November 9, 2019, at 8:15 AM PST
    • 14 likes
  10. Blondie Thatcher

    DonG (View Comment):

    For people on the generational boundary, age of parents and birth order is a good a tie breaker. I am Gen-X, but I have older siblings (Gen-W=Boomer) and older parents (Gen-V), so my childhood was very Boomer-like.

    I think where you grew up plays, too. I’m 52 and the oldest with youngish parents, but grew up in an area always 10 years behind the times. Heck, my folks still don’t have decent cell service and no internet service. 

    • #10
    • November 9, 2019, at 8:53 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  11. Bob Thompson Member

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    I fall into Arahant’s fourth category, 81 years and older. According to the characteristics of this category, people are now supposed to take care of me. Hell, I’m waiting for my kids to pick up the check at restaurants.

     

    I turned 81 Thursday and I ain’t done yet.

    • #11
    • November 9, 2019, at 9:03 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  12. OkieSailor Member

    Welcome aboard, I’m .7 centuries now but most people are surprised to hear I’m that old, or are they just being nice?? When I was in my fifties I was still working hard at work and after work and loving every minute, especially the part about eating everything in sight without gaining weight. That changed about the time I turned 60 and I’ve battled the weight problem ever since, so there is that. But I do like having most of the important questions answered, like what shall I do with my free time and such things. I’m still working on the lesser things like why are politicians such jerks.
    I enjoy retirement, so much so that I did it twice, once when the plant closed and again when I qualified for SS. But I drive a school bus occasionally as a substitute just to keep active and to get out from under foot for Mrs. OS benefit.
    We moved for retirement and built a house we designed that just fits our needs on and acre outside a town just big enough to have what we need and small enough to be friendly. I recommend it, but don’t tell everyone or our town will get too big to be friendly.
    Enjoy this phase while you realize the next phase will come too quickly and while it will be different you will enjoy that one just as much if you decide to. Life is great, especially compared to the alternative.

    • #12
    • November 9, 2019, at 9:27 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  13. MichaelKennedy Coolidge

    Arahant (View Comment):
    81+ Years of Youth again —You’re taken care of by others as all the strength you gained and wisdom fails you.

    Dispute this one. Strength, yes. Wisdom, no. My mother lived to 103. Her father was born in 1849. She was 40 when she had me. Three generations instead of four. Interesting to think my grandfather could have fought in the Civil War.

    I gave up sailing and golf. Still reading. Almost no TV. Spending some time lately reading about WWI. My mother wrote letters to doughboys. I took her to see Titanic when it came out. She laughed at some of it. She was 14 when it sank. She lived in three centuries. My children, when they were teens, used to fly to Chicago to spend a week with her.

    • #13
    • November 9, 2019, at 9:54 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  14. JoelB Member

    Repeat after me: “Get off the grass!”

    • #14
    • November 9, 2019, at 10:07 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  15. Matt Bartle Member

    If you were to wake me from a deep sleep and, before I had really come to, ask me how old I am, I think I would guess 25. But the fact is I was 25 in 1983.

    The other day my wife and I were at a restaurant and the menu had a “senior” section for those over 55. It occurred to me that I qualify and have for several years. Yet I’ve never ordered from the senior menu. I don’t think I’ve ever taken advantage of any senior discounts. I guess it doesn’t occur to me. Besides, it’s kind of silly since I can afford things much more easily now than I could when I really was 25.

    I used to joke that I wasn’t getting old – I was still a pretty hep cat. But I’m not sure young people would even get the joke now.

     

    • #15
    • November 9, 2019, at 11:15 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  16. CarolJoy, Above Top Secret Coolidge

    Enjoy the discounts when they come your way. Your take on the position of being a “tweener” who is not really old yet certainly not of the current teeny bopper set is a common one. Your writing painted the picture of the many considerations we start making at around age 50 or so.

    Anyway, enjoy the discounts when they come your way. 

    My husband was first offered a discount by the young teenager helping her family with their Mexican restaurant. At the time, he was a young looking 53 yr old.

    He was so indignant – how could she possibly see him as being discount-worthy?
    I pointed out the young lady was all of thirteen if that. And that when we were thirteen, anyone over 35 seemed ancient.

    • #16
    • November 9, 2019, at 12:32 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  17. WillowSpring Member

    I’m in the @arahant third stage. I think it is much harder to share wisdom with the younger these days.

    I have had gray hair since about 25 years old (my mother used to say I was 20 going on 50), so have usually looked older than I am.

    A while back, I was in the checkout line at the grocery store and an older clerk was training a young man. He was showing how to check ID for liquor purchase for the person in front of me in line and looked back at me and said “Unless, of course they look like him”!

    • #17
    • November 9, 2019, at 1:19 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  18. Bob Thompson Member

    WillowSpring (View Comment):

    I’m in the @arahant third stage. I think it is much harder to share wisdom with the younger these days.

    I have had gray hair since about 25 years old (my mother used to say I was 20 going on 50), so have usually looked older than I am.

    A while back, I was in the checkout line at the grocery store and an older clerk was training a young man. He was showing how to check ID for liquor purchase for the person in front of me in line and looked back at me and said “Unless, of course they look like him”!

    It can work both ways. I was 80 when the surgeon said he needed to open up my chest last February. He said he didn’t like doing open heart surgery on those my age who have already had such surgery before, but since I was physically like a 60 year old he was fine with it.

    • #18
    • November 9, 2019, at 1:28 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  19. PHCheese Member

    Don’t count on a season 10 on the Kominsky Method .

    • #19
    • November 9, 2019, at 2:09 PM PST
    • 1 like
  20. RushBabe49 Thatcher

    I’m 70. Still working full time and earning funds to stock my retirement accounts (I had a spotty working life, having changed careers in my 40s). No kids to take care of me in my old age, which is another reason I’m still working. Hubby is 9 years younger, but we may end up retiring at the same time.

    Last time I took a ferry by myself, the ticket-seller was flabbergasted to hear how old I was-he said I looked closer to 50. Yes, flattery will get you everywhere. I do claim senior discounts on things like ferry fares and concert tickets, but not at restaurants. I can afford full fare, and it makes me proud to be able to afford full-price meals.

    • #20
    • November 9, 2019, at 3:13 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  21. Full Size Tabby Member

    Just this afternoon I was meeting with a new neighbor. He was laid off (for him a premature retirement) a few months ago with the explanation that he was a “legacy thinker” and the company wanted “modern thinkers.” One of the “legacy thinking” items this guy had figured out was how to deal with the Chinese (the company had frequent business dealings with the Chinese). But the “modern thinkers” insisted dealing with the Chinese was no different from dealing with anyone else. My new neighbor took some morbid amusement seeing two of his “modern thinking” successors utterly fail at dealing with the Chinese.

    Sometimes us old geezers (I’m 63) have learned from our experience something that might still be useful to the young’uns. 

    • #21
    • November 9, 2019, at 5:08 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  22. Arahant Member

    Matt Bartle (View Comment):
    If you were to wake me from a deep sleep and, before I had really come to, ask me how old I am, I think I would guess 25. But the fact is I was 25 in 1983.

    Back when I was about 43, I was eating in my favorite restaurant. There was a family at a near table with a man, his wife, and two sons somewhere around college age. The guy had a Castro-sort of beard, still dark. I was thinking of him as an older guy, but as I kept looking, I figured him to be in his early forties, so much older than I was. 😜 Part of that was that since I never had kids, I think of parents as being older than I am unless there is contradictory evidence. Still, it was a bit of a shock when I recognized he was about my age.

    Probably about the same time, I was volunteering as an administrator at a poetry site, and was doing a lot to keep it alive. Many of the poets on the site were rather young. There was one teenaged girl who said I reminded her of her grandfather. I guess that was good.

    • #22
    • November 9, 2019, at 7:53 PM PST
    • 7 likes
  23. Roderic Coolidge

    Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr.: I’m 54 years old; next year I will start qualifying for senior discounts, not to mention some retirement benefits.

    Old? You’re a babe in arms, my friend.

    According to the World Health Organization, “middle age”, when we are supposed to be our most productive and wise, extends to the age of 80 now. Some have opined that Social Security benefits should not start until then.

    Back when retirement age was set at 65 only about 10% of adults survived that long. FDR was a frail old thing when he died, and he was 63, which was older than most lived then. Nowadays 85% of men live to be 65 and 10% live to be over 90.

    So think young.

    • #23
    • November 10, 2019, at 6:23 AM PST
    • 1 like
  24. MichaelKennedy Coolidge

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):
    Last time I took a ferry by myself, the ticket-seller was flabbergasted to hear how old I was-he said I looked closer to 50.

    We go to a Pakmail nearby that is run by a woman who looked to me like she was in her 20s. I was flabbergasted to learn she is a grandmother. I must be getting old.

    • #24
    • November 10, 2019, at 9:46 AM PST
    • 1 like
  25. Full Size Tabby Member

    At our church us geezers and the teens both enjoy ribbing each other on what each of us does and does not know about the technology of the other’s generation. It provides an odd but useful source of cross-generational conversation. 

    • #25
    • November 10, 2019, at 12:58 PM PST
    • Like
  26. Mister Dog Coolidge

    I’m 10 in dog years, so I got that going for me.

    • #26
    • November 10, 2019, at 2:38 PM PST
    • 1 like
  27. Stad Thatcher

    Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr.: I’m 54 years old; next year I will start qualifying for senior discounts, not to mention some retirement benefits. On the other hand, I don’t look my age; I still have plenty of hair, most of which is dark brown . . .

    You know, this really ticks a lot of us Ricochetti off.

    Just kidding!

    (Okay, no I’m not . . .)

    • #27
    • November 10, 2019, at 3:11 PM PST
    • Like
  28. Slow on the uptake Thatcher

    Haven’t even looked at the Senior section of a menu in years but as I recall they assume we don’t eat very much and don’t taste what we eat.

    • #28
    • November 10, 2019, at 3:42 PM PST
    • Like
  29. Al Sparks Thatcher

    Matt Bartle (View Comment):

    The other day my wife and I were at a restaurant and the menu had a “senior” section for those over 55. It occurred to me that I qualify and have for several years. Yet I’ve never ordered from the senior menu. I don’t think I’ve ever taken advantage of any senior discounts. I guess it doesn’t occur to me. Besides, it’s kind of silly since I can afford things much more easily now than I could when I really was 25.

    I’ve not partaken of senior discounts either. For one thing they are in effect a subsidy, since those restaurants have to make a profit and that means those paying full boat are paying a little more.

    In essence, the senior discount is charity. And if you don’t need charity, you shouldn’t take charity.

    I’m not retired yet, and don’t live on a fixed income. And no one owes me just because I’m older.

    • #29
    • November 10, 2019, at 5:18 PM PST
    • 1 like
  30. Al Sparks Thatcher

    Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr.: I’ve seen the latest memes, and I know how to use emoji.

    The emoji was preceded by the text base “smiley face”, which has been around for a good twenty years.

    I’ve never depended on either to indicate I’m engaged in humor. It’s kind of like having a laugh track on a television show.

    Oh look, what I’m saying is funny. Laugh. Out. Loud.

    • #30
    • November 10, 2019, at 5:27 PM PST
    • Like