When it was trendy to buy clothes that appeared to be leftover from the war in which our fathers fought, I bought Babe a distressed leather bomber jacket. Up until yesterday, he loved wearing it.
Twenty-four hours ago however, someone who should have known better approached him with a question that set his teeth on edge. “Were you a pilot during the war, Dude?”
Babe looked puzzled for a moment. “The war?”
The twit wearing his ball cap backwards answered him. “The war, dude, like the BIG one. WW Too.”
As I watched Babe’s seventy-something face, his eyes turned into slits that looked a whole lot like a ticked-off snake. His full lips flattened out and became a pencil thin line. His glare was glacial.
“Sonny,” he said through clinched teeth, “If you weren’t dumb as a box of hair, you could look at me and see that 71-years ago when the war ended, I was just a kid. Crack a book sometime and learn a thing or two, Dude.”
The kid shrugged. “Hey, old man, I ain’t never been interested in ancient history.”
I dragged Babe’s ancient bones away before he could strangle the boy. “Babe,” I said in a reassuring voice, “You don’t look a day over seventy-five and if you did, I wouldn’t tell a soul.”
He would much rather I had said that he looked younger and better than Robert Redford, but I was having a hard time holding in a series of giggles while patting myself on the back for effectively averting World War Three.
What is it about being the older generation that is so difficult to accept? Why is it that when someone dares to utter the phrase, Old age beats the alternative, the gnashing of teeth sounds like the roar of an approaching tsunami?
When I consider the years Babe and I have taken up space on this planet, I am amazed that we made it this long. I feel my age only when I get out of bed in the morning and my body forces me to acknowledge that the old gray mare ain’t what she used to be. Generally speaking, I believe age really is only a number. Just the other day I read that most people never feel as old as they actually are. Spoiler Alert! I thought I was the only one.
I am glad that I have had seventy-five years of experiencing the wonders of life. I am fortunate to be living at a time when electronics are too often outdated before the ink has had time to dry on the patent. Ink? What is that? With each new electronic advance, my way of life gets shifted one way or another, for better or worse.
Today’s medical technology is so advanced that if our ancestors could come back they would think we were all living in the middle of a science fiction novel.
My generation experienced JFK’s assassination, Nixon’s impeachment, the Challenger Explosion and sadly, 911. And is there anyone alive today who would not agree that we are still making history with the most unique presidential election ever?
That kid, the Big Lebowski Wannabe dude? He’s got no history, no frame of reference. To him, WW2 is a video game yet to go on the market. His brain processes Twitter feed or whatever filters into his head from TV news that his parents are watching when he ambles out through the room.
He is a teenager and guess what? He is not all that dissimilar, at least in teen temperament, than we were sixty plus years ago. Both generations process things given the information available at the time.
So buck up, Babe. When you put on your bomber jacket be happy that you don’t look quite as distressed as it does. Remember… age is just a number if you say so.