We’re turning 60 now, a bunch of my friends and I. We tried to hold it off. We tried to stop at 35, then 40, then 45. It’s all a matter of attitude, we said.
Put on the music and pour another round.
But the aches, the short-term memory loss, the groggy late-night wakeups with book in lap _ all make it impossible to ignore that time is having its way with us.
And 60 has this feeling of being stamped and sealed. It’s like that steel hammer that used to come down to slam home the name of the production company _ Mark VII _ at the end of “Dragnet.” You’d have to be kind of old to remember that.
You’re 60. You can’t hide.
So, with six decades packed away, we tend to talk more and more about this chunk of time that we’ve lived in. Maybe it’s an exercise that comes with the realization that we’re probably going to retire sometime in the next 10 years.
And while we might not agree on the greatest rock band _ the Stones, the Kinks, the Beatles _ or the greatest heavyweight champion, the greatest president, the best city for ribs or the best hangover cure, we do agree on one thing:
We showed up just in time. We had a pretty good run before the bottom fell out.
I know it’s generational. I remember my late friend Jack Gleason telling me the same thing.
Jack was a Navy veteran of World War II. He was a firefighter and a bartender and a man who collected things.
Jack said that coming out of the war and watching the country grow and prosper made for the best of times. He didn’t see anything better down the road. He said he was glad he lived when he did.
Jump ahead 30-plus years and the chatter from the senior-citizen porch has a familiar ring.
We were all born around the time that Jack Gleason’s war was ending. We had Vietnam for our war, along with all its tortured choices. But we also had some wonderful leftovers, things that endured to connect us to a time when we shopped downtown and took Sundays off.
Which leads us to the game we play as we sit around and talk about prostates and greens fees.
OK, we say, name something that is better now than it was 40 years ago. And don’t throw out computers or the latest pill or some techno marvel that lets us take dirty pictures and talk to our sweetie-pie at the same time. We’re talking about the things that matter, the things that make life worth leaving the house for.
Sports, you say? Sports are better? Steroids? $20 million outfielders with 10-cent heads? Kids who stumble out at 5 a.m. with travel bags big enough to sleep in so they can grab some ice time at 5:30?
All right, how about music? Please.
Television? Yeah, right. Competitive worm eating and women who sleep with their grandfathers.
Movies? If you say so, but don’t bother saving me a place in line at the multiplex for “The Dukes Of Hazzard.”
You know where this is going. I’m entering my curmudgeon phase. The world, or at least our part of it, is in free fall.
Probably another generation will play the same game, look back and figure that they were damn lucky to come along when they did.
But maybe not. Maybe I and the rest of my 60s club really did get in just under the wire.
Because I haven’t even thrown George W. Bush into the mix yet.
(Bob Kerr can be reached by e-mail at bkerr(at)projo.com.)