AGE IS NOTHING 
BUT A LOUSY NUMBER

   We all gathered around the fireplace the other night, with me sitting as erect as I could on the hearth. Everyone else was at my feet, staring up and waiting for my words of wisdom.
   "Tell us, old man," said one particularly irritating 57 year old. "What's it like to turn 60."
   Ahh, the petulance of youth. But I didn't let it bother me. I'd been 60 for two years now, and I knew better than to let some young whippersnapper get to me.
   "You'll find out soon enough, young grasshopper," I replied. "But since you asked, I'll share with you my thoughts on reaching the milestone of being on this earth for 60 years."
   The 57 year old, along with a very interested 58 year old, and a somewhat interested 52 year old, all leaned forward to hear what I had to say.
   "Turning 60," I answered with all the dignity I could muster, "is very, very weird."
   "But everyone says 60 is the new 40," said the completely ignorant 52 year old.
   "That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard," I replied. "I remember being 40 and it didn't feel anything like this."
   It was getting late and I was already tired, wishing everyone except my wife (age unknown), would go home. Eating dinner had really taken it out of me.
   "Tell us more, tell us more," they pleaded. "There must be something positive about turning 60."
    I gave it some thought as they patiently waited for a response. I thought about when I turned 20, then 30, then 40, then 50. All of those milestones were somewhat traumatic, but they paled in comparison to turning 60.
   I could still pretend to be young for all those milestones. Turning 60 ended that charade. "Middle Age" was no longer a description I could use. 60 is not middle age. 60 is just weird.
   They were waiting for an answer, though, so even though I really wanted to go to bed, I gave them one. "The only positive thing I can think of is that life expectancy has increased dramatically over the last few generations, so 60 is not as old as it once was."
   "What are the negatives," asked the 52 year old, feigning interest.
   I suddenly had a burst of energy. While it was difficult to find positives, the negatives practically gushed out of me.
   Forty minutes later, I was done. I had everyone thoroughly depressed, except the 52 year old, who naively thought turning 60 was light years away. She was in for a big surprise.
   Don't misunderstand. I'm thrilled to make it to 60, and fully expect to live at least another 30 or 40 years. But it's suddenly a very slippery slope, instead of the very sure footing I had when I was a youngster in my 50's.
   The world was my oyster in those heady days. I could feel my heart skip a beat and not be certain I was having a heart attack. I could look at that spot on my skin and not even think about melanoma. Not anymore.
   I could visit my 90 year old mother and bask in her praise. She would proudly introduce me, her youthful son, to one of her friends at her nursing home and I would beam like a 10 year old. She was still alive when I turned 60, and she would still introduce me as her youthful son, and I would still beam. But then I would think, "My God, man, stop acting like a twit. You're 60 frigging years old."
   The good news is that I still act like a twit. It's just sobering to realize, and I do it several times each day, that I'm 62 years old. How did that happen?
   The fire eventually died down, just like my youth, and the 52 year old, 57 year old and 58 year old reluctantly thanked me for my wise words and went home. My wife helped me up and led me to the kitchen to do the dishes.
   "You know," she said as she placed me in front of the sink. "You're only as old as you feel."
   I agreed. And I felt like a 30 year old, at least from the neck up.
 

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