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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.Published in