I have never been what you might call a man of my time. For instance, I am too old to be considered a “boomer.” Boomers were born once WWII was over and I was born two years before our participation in that war began. This makes people my age the modern equivalent of the Anasazi.
In the middle Sixties there arose a saying commonly heard – never trust anyone over thirty. That phrase hit a peak in regular usage the year I turned thirty. So while my personal sympathies were definitely on the more youthful side of that artificial line, my less fit corpus and receding hairline definitely put me well into the ranks of the duplicitous ones. It was a schizophrenic time – my fist raised in the air as I shouted anti-establishment and antiwar slogans at rallies while my t-shirt could have read: “Trust me not, I’m thirty-one.”
Little wonder my self-image is a bit bleary and out-of-focus.
Then there was the feeling I had all through my twenties that I would not live to see thirty years old. I had that feeling so strongly that on the eve of my thirtieth birthday I had trouble sleeping. It was the “if I should die before I wake” syndrome. (I thought I was unusual in this but have since learned that having such notions is not a rare thing, especially among persons of a certain nervous temperament.)
So it was with a mixture of relief and disappointment that I woke on October 26, 1969 and found that I was not only not dead, but had a wife, four children, and was still a conscript in the United States Air Force. So many roles and responsibilities for a man who had fantasized about living in a caravan, growing his hair out, taking fewer showers, and learning everything there was to be learned about psychedelics.
Since I wasn’t dead, I now had to make plans for a future that I hadn’t thought to be a part of. I knew more what I didn’t want to be than what I did. I didn’t want to be the middle-aged man whose small talk at parties leaned heavily toward what was the best sidewalk edger or foundational planting. I left such a party one night horrified by the conversations I’d overheard. I turned to my (first) wife and said: “I am going to purchase a small-caliber pistol which I will give you as a gift. If you ever hear me start into one of the inane back-and-forths we have witnessed this evening, I want you to take the pistol from your purse and shoot me on the spot. And don’t worry – there’s not a jury in the world that will convict you.”
And now I am a blue-label octogenarian living in a red zone. Mmmmmmm. I think I’ll have a t-shirt printed that reads “Never trust anyone over eighty,” just so I feel comfortably out-of-sync. It’s who I am. It’s what I do.
A Dick Guindon cartoon
Another Super Bowl has come and gone (Yawn). Apparently Eminem was part of the entertainment and he took a knee (took him a while). There are many of our shared American rituals that I do take part in, so I don’t think that I need to apologize for skipping this particular one. The last time I cared about the outcome of a pro football game was in the early 1960s, so by the time that Super Bowl I began the whole series of overblown spectacles in 1966, I had already gone in other directions.
To me it’s little more than the modern version of the Roman games, without the excitement of having lions present to eat the losers. Instead, we watch as large men gamble with their bodies, many of them hoping in vain that they don’t acquire brains as moth-eaten as an old woolen sweater in the back of your closet.
From The New Yorker
Each morning I check the online newspapers to see if we are at war yet. I am even concerned enough that recently I actually checked a map to see where the Ukraine is located. I thought it was the least that I could do. The amount of saber-rattling over the past several months has almost made too much noise for a person to go to sleep at night.
You know that definition of insanity? The one that goes like this: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results?” Wouldn’t that apply to the making of war pretty well? What our world lacks is someone like Zeus to act as a celestial referee. Let’s say that a Vladimir Putin or a George W. Bush gets their underwear all in a bunch and begins to move armies to the borders anywhere. This referee could say “Hold it right there!” They would then step in and gather all the swords, break them over their knee, then send the offenders to their respective rooms without any supper.
When I was an undergraduate student at the U. of Minnesota, there was a humorous piece in the student newspaper that went like this. War is such a horror at least partially because we are doing it all wrong. We draft the young and send them into battle to be slaughtered or maimed or emotionally crippled. So much potential lost.
What we should be doing is getting all nations to agree to draft only their oldest citizens. This would have the following benefits.
- Since the aged are also a very crafty bunch, they would exert enormous pressures to stop the nonsense, put the guns back into the holsters, and settle things amicably.
- Should a war actually somehow begin, these same senior citizens would be much more comfortable in a nice warm tent than charging up a hill, and it would be difficult to motivate them to attack things. In fact, charging up anything in large enough numbers to do real harm would probably be impossible due to arthritis, old sports injuries, bladder difficulties, etc.
- The vision of older citizens is often impaired, thus their ability to hit whatever they’re aiming at would also be impaired, with most of the bullets fired flying off into harmless directions.
I would volunteer for such an army in a heartbeat. Let’s get more eighty year-olds around the truce tables of the world. Men and women who, if they voted for war, would be among the first to be drafted.
Good for all nations to have an army where it is more important to get carloads of Metamucil to the front lines than it is ammunition. There are few things more difficult to deal with than a cranky old soldier without their fiber.