Boomers turning 60, looking 40, acting 20
Q: How many baby boomers does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: One, because, as everybody knows, the world revolves around them.
Okay, so it’s an old joke, originally written for musicians, but since I fall into both categories I feel free to paraphrase it to fit my purposes. And come to think of it, that proves the point, doesn’t it? We boomers are so self-absorbed that we not only bend the rules but bend reality itself to conform to our world view. Because of the enormous population bulge (watch it!) we enjoy, somehow we became the privileged class without ever having to earn the privileges. We were born in the ’40s, became aware in the ’50s, came of age in the ’60s, and by the time Dylan sang “Forever Young” in the ’70s, we actually believed it. Elvis invented music; Marilyn Monroe invented sex; the Beatles invented dope; and by the time Al Gore invented the internet, we were convinced that the world was our oyster and the rest of you punks better get with the program.
For one reason or another, several developments fed into that belief, reinforcing the notion that by virtue of sheer numbers we were all-powerful. Our seeming omnipresence nourished the idea that surely we must be omniscient, never even bothering to dispute the equivocation. As Descartes didn’t say, “We are, therefore we are.”
Why, do you suppose, that Viagra came along just as we were at that stage of life where “ED” went from eating disorder to erectile dysfunction? Why did Procerin and Propecia and all those baldness cures come along just when all the old long-haired hippie freaks were beginning to look more like Kojak than Wavy Gravy? Why did liposuction get perfected just in time for middle-aged women (and many egocentric, delusional men) to shed those unwanted pounds in lieu of diet and exercise? How did holistic and homeopathic therapies inch their way toward the mainstream just as we old radicals were inching our way toward our declining years? Why did cosmetic surgery on virtually every part of the body become acceptable once we all hit the sagging stage?
The answer to all the above is simple: Our arrogance coupled with our obsession over recapturing our youth has produced the delusion that it’s something that’s attainable, perhaps even our right. Our capitalist system of supply and demand has buoyed the grand delusion by creating products and services that make it appear possible to “retain that youthful glow.” We can appear not to age and appear to lose weight and appear to be virile 21-year-old studs, but none of that does anything to change the reality, the inevitable, the incontrovertible.
And speaking of which, who the hell came up with the phrase, “60 is the new 40”? I’ve got news for whoever’s trying to pull that marketing scam: 60 is 60. Period! There’s no way to disguise it, no way to make it appear to be prime of life, no way to sugarcoat it. Being 60 should not be confused with being a “60 Minute Man.”
I know from whence I speak, brothers and sisters, for I turned 60 last week. And, as you may have noticed, I’m not too ding-dong thrilled about it. While I’ve never availed myself of any of the aforementioned products or services, I do try to fool myself into youth by, oh, wearing a dazzling array of neckties, by driving a red convertible, by picking up my guitar occasionally and doing my Buddy Holly impersonation. But the senior moments keep ruining the illusion.
No joke: Last week while getting dressed I misplaced my necktie and found it, after work, draped over my shoulder under my shirt; I solidified my geezer credentials by driving my red convertible a good 10 miles with the blinker on; and I forgot the words to “Peggy Sue,” even though I sang them every night for seven years back in the day. It was more pitiful than that sickening “Viva Viagra” commercial with those yuppies acting like they’re the Blues Brothers putting the band back together.
So you can rationalize it any way you want, but the aches and pains speak for themselves. I can joke that I make up for my advanced age by being stunningly immature, but all that makes me is an immature old goat. I can repeat the hackneyed “You’re only as old as you feel” line ’til I’m blue in the face and all I’ll be is blue in the face. And I can juxtapose my age with the alternative but that’s, at best, small consolation.
But, I swear, if you ever hear me singing “Viva Viagra,” just shoot me. Shoot me dead. Kill me on the spot.
Ogi may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, heard Tuesdays at 9:30 a.m. on “The Dusty Dunn Show” on WGOS 1070 AM, and seen on “Triad Today” Fridays at 6:30 a.m. on ABC 45 and Sundays at 10 p.m. on WMYV 48.