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Columnist Told to ‘Act His Age’
I recently mentioned my lifelong interest in comic books, and received for my trouble what I hope was a joshing e-mail telling me to "act my age."
That is easier said than done for a Baby Boomer such as myself.
I'm 53. When I was growing up, this was solid middle age. A few decades before that, a person of 53 was considered old. And a few decades before that, a person of 53 was considered dead.
But now 53 is on the young side of things, if you go by the new bumper-sticker philosophy that 60 is the new 30, because we Boomers are more active and attractive than our parents were at the same age. This was determined a few years ago by a bunch of 59-year olds in deep denial.
Using their math, acting my age means I should behave like someone in his mid-20s. Sorry. No can do. I remember the way I behaved during my first mid-20s, 30 years ago. If I tried it now I would soon be one of those considered-dead 53-year-olds.
Now, I've been told to act my age before and it has always been a little confusing.
Our older sister Vicky was extremely fond of telling my brother P.D. and me to act our age. This was her mistake. For one thing, P.D. and I are different ages. For another, by behaving as we did - that is, making her wonder why God had given her chimpanzees for siblings - we actually were acting our ages.
Junior high came along and Mom took the baton from Vicky. Lucky for me it wasn't a real baton, or she probably would have clobbered me with it. Mom and I tussled over the issues of hair and clothes. She preferred a more conservative look - short hair, nice pants, nice shirts and clunky black wing tip shoes (like Richard Nixon wore when he went for walks on the beach). I wanted to dress for the times, the 1960s. In other words, bushy hair and clown clothes. She won. I sulked. "Act your age," she said. Once again, shows what she knew: Dressing like a clown was acting my age. So was sulking.
Then I got to high school and learned that "Act your age" was something school authorities used when playing good cop/bad cop with miscreants such as myself. The good cop (Mr. Storck, the dean of boys) would say something about how you had great potential if you'd only apply yourself, and then the bad cop (Mr. Clune, the principal) would tell you to start acting your age. Then they'd bring up the heavy artillery about whatever you did going on your permanent record, kept in a mountain vault in Utah: "Ah, here it is. In 1971 Mike Redmond smartmouthed his English teacher. We can't hire a guy like that. Too bad. They warned him it was going on his permanent record.")
And this brings us to now. Actually, the joke is on the person who told me that being interested in comic books is not acting my age. Been to a comic book shop lately? Those aren't kids looking at the new arrivals. And the guys (it's always guys) aren't necessarily space cadets, either. You'll see lots of older fellows, quite a few wearing clunky black wing-tips.
So once again, despite what the e-mailer thinks, it looks like I'm acting my age already. Except for the wingtips. Or, as I said in my return e-mail:
Give it up, Mom.
© 2008 Mike Redmond. All Rights Reserved.
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