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Mike Redmond Column

Please refer to the Mike Redmond Column main page for columns published in other issues.
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 Boomer Unapologetic for Benefits

A young friend of mine, who says we Baby Boomers® got all the good stuff and had all the fun before everything started to go you-know-where in a handbasket, recently forwarded an article intended to put Boomers® in our place.

“Old Age Begins At 27,” was the headline. “Our mental abilities start to decline at age 27, after peaking at 22,” said the article, from “Researchers from the University of Virginia gave a series of mental tests to 2,000 men and women over a seven-year period. They found that in nine of the 12 tests, the top score was achieved at age 22, and that 27 was the first age at which some of the abilities – including reasoning and speed of thought – began to decline significantly.”

Well, hold on there, Baba Looey. I think this article contains a certain amount of what we shall, in the name of politeness, call manure. Let me put my dentures back in and I’ll explain what I mean. If I can remember it, that is. After all, I passed 27 a while back. I’m 54. I’m ancient.

I don’t have a 2,000-person, seven-year study to back it up. I just have lives, mine and my male friends’. And we’re all pretty much in agreement that at age 22, we were morons.

We were selfish, boorish clods, for the most part, who were doing their level best to destroy their cognitive abilities one brain cell at a time. We may have been fast thinkers, but all we really thought about was the next beer, the next paycheck, the next pizza and the next evening of high adventure. At age 27? Still morons.

From my observation, men don’t really start to get a handle on maturity until age 35, and even then it’s a tenuous grip at best. It isn’t until we’re crowding 40 that we begin to figure out the whole maturity thing. Lucky for us, most women – who reach the same level of maturity at about 19 -- are by nature patient enough to wait for us.

And it’s maturity – wisdom – that really counts. A 22-year-old may have a 500-horsepower brain, but if he’s just wasting it, what’s the point?

Wisdom (and I am by no means suggesting I’ve acquired all that much) takes time, lots of it. And it’s wisdom that quite literally separates the men from the boys.

When does old age start? I don’t think you can realistically pinpoint it. Age isn’t about the brain; it’s about the mind. You get old when you decide to BE old. I’ve met 80-year-olds who still haven’t made the decision. I’ve also met 25-year-olds who made the decision too soon, and were miserable old cranks far too early.

So let the University of Virginia have its study. If my synapses aren’t firing as fast as they did when I was 22, so be it. It’s not like I was doing anything productive with them.

And to my young friend, I say thanks for the article, but it doesn’t change the fact that we Boomers® did, in fact, get all the good stuff and have all the fun before we became mature human beings. That’s right. We’ve matured. And in this mature spirit, with all the wisdom that comes with it, I say to you:





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