When I was a little kid, I thought my parents were ancient.
My father was 43 and my mother, 34, when I was born, so once I was a teenager, Pop was already in his mid-50s and mom in her mid-40s.
I couldn’t imagine ever getting that “old.”
But guess what?
I’m 56, and on New Year’s Eve, I’ll be 57. If young people now look at me the way I once looked at people my age … well, they’re wrong.
The late, great Satchel Paige said, “Age is a case of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it don’t matter.” Forget for a moment that he’s dead, which negates the argument somewhat … that’s a really cool quote.
And now, it’s a rallying cry for me. Although I can’t stop you from thinking I’m old, I sure as hell can stop me from thinking I’m old.
Sadly, there are men my age who perpetuate the stereotype that makes us all look ancient and out of touch, and I’d like to address that if I may.
For starters, we should never wear “jorts” – at any time, under any circumstance.
Jorts, of course, are blue jean shorts. I’m pretty sure they were created as a joke, but enough jackasses took the joke seriously that jorts became a thing. I cringe every time I see some poor bastard running around in truncated denim.
You’re not Daisy Duke, buddy, so go home and change.
Then there are sandals (or mandals).
I, for one, never have and never will wear sandals. I think they look ridiculous on men. If you’re wandering around the Middle East healing people then I guess they’re OK, but otherwise nobody wants to see man toes.
And the whole socks worn with sandals thing is horrifying in its own way.
Mandals, I assume, exist to let the pigs breathe, so socks defeat the entire purpose.
Here’s a rule of thumb; if you wear socks with sandals, you’re going to look like a dumbass.
Remember the wisdom of Batman: “It’s not who I am underneath, but what I do that defines me.” No one wants to be defined by wearing socks and sandals.
Also, don’t wear really bright white athletic shoes with really bright white socks, or dress shoes and dark socks with shorts.
The latter is more an issue with men in their late 60s and beyond, but I’ve noticed the former among my age group.
I can’t quite put my finger on what makes the bright white sock/shoe combo scream “old,” but it does.
On a related note, don’t call athletic shoes “sneakers” or “tennis shoes.” Both terms will result in getting at least one check on the old man box. In fact, just be aware of language in general any time you’re around millennials. For example, when they use the word “cornhole,” just know that it doesn’t mean what you think it means.
Music choices are also a sign of aging.
I’m proud to say I’m a fan of modern alternative music, and there is not a day that goes by when I don’t listen to the Ramones and AC/DC. So if you tend to skew towards 1970s “light rock” or “soft rock” or whatever they call that crap, we can never be friends.
Playing an Air Supply or Bread song calls for an ass-kicking … I’m just telling you.
And when you talk about the old days (mainly the 1970s and 1980s), do it either ironically or as a point of reference.
Don’t long for them.
When you say something like, “I remember back when there were only three TV channels and we didn’t have remote controls … we had to get up and change the channels manually,” no one cares.
There are also people who remember polio, Joseph McCarthy and a thin Orson Welles, but there’s no real point in bringing all that up now.
Look – I’m not running from my age. I get that I’m in the third quarter of the football game of my life. Still, I don’t feel old.
I’m in better physical shape now than I was 20 years ago.
My mind is still relatively sharp – I’ve yet to wander out onto the porch naked (unless it was planned), and I only forget to shower once or twice a year.
But more importantly, I don’t walk around in jorts and mandals, sing along with Neal Sedaka, or talk about how the 1970s were a simpler, better time.
I’ve gotten older, but I haven’t gotten old.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna crank up “Back In Black” as loud as it’ll go before watching “Matlock” and then taking a nap.