Okay, I’m really not “old,” per se, I’m only 44. That makes me, what? Middle-aged, I suppose. When I was a kid my mother and I used to like to play a trivia game together, It was similar to the game commonly known as “20 Questions,” but in our version one person had to select a famous person to “be” and the other had to ask a series of yes or no questions to try and determine who his or her opponent was. The opening clue would reveal only the person’s general age and the person’s gender. A typical opening clue would be “I am an old man” or “I am a young woman,” whatever the appropriate clue may have been. For the purpose of this game we had established that “young” meant anyone from birth to 39 years old. “Middle-aged” was someone aged 40 to 59, and “old” was anyone aged 60 or older. Deceased individuals were fair game as well, but the age indicator would have to indicate how old they would be today, were they still with us. For whatever reason the designations from that game have stuck with me through the years and when I turned 40, I lamented my entrance into the realm of the middle aged.
The thing is, I really don’t feel my age. When I was younger I had a very definite idea in my head of what a 44 year old man was like. He wore a tie to work, He drove a luxury car or a station wagon, depending on his tax bracket (there really was no such thing as an SUV back then). He was most serious-minded and rarely, if ever, had time to make jokes or laugh at those made by others. If the 44 year-old me could hop into some kind of Wayback Machine and tell the 16 year-old me a little bit about what’s what, the 16 year-old me would probably be quite taken aback. In fact I know exactly what the 16 year-old me would have said. “How did we get so fat?” and “When do we finally get laid?”
Okay, I stole the fat joke from Kevin Smith, but I’m sure the younger Mike Triggs (who was never exactly skinny, even at 16) would want to know why there were apparently no gyms in his future.
He certainly wouldn’t have expected the middle*aged him to be going to work in a tee shirt with Darth Vader on it and playing video games in his spare time.
Still, despite my desperate attempts to hang on to my youthful outlooks and dispositions, I got old somewhere along the way to middle age. There was a time when going to rock concerts, for example, was one of my favorite things to do. In my teen years I saw the likes of the Rolling Stones (this was in 1981 when Jagger would have been about 40 or so himself… not old by any stretch of the imagination, but I certainly thought he was), Black Sabbath, Ozzy Osbourne, U2, and plenty of others. As I entered young adulthood I kept seeing bands play live and generally felt that the louder the show was, the better it was. Today it has probably been close to twenty years since I’ve gone to any kind of a concert. Why? They’re too loud and they’re full of kids.
I got old.
About a year ago I was speaking with an older guy who I worked with and we’d somehow gotten on the subject of the Kennedy assassination. This guy was in his late fifties so he was still not “old” by my aforementioned rules, but he was close. He asked me if I remembered where I was when I heard that JFK had been shot. I told him I was in grade school when I heard about it. He said he’d been as well. I said, “No, I learned about it in grade school. It was in the history book.” Just how old did this fucker think I was anyway? A few days earlier he’d been talking about his experiences working for a Hollywood talent agency. He’d mentioned that one of his clients had been the great Frank Gorshin. I was the only one in the office who knew who he was talking about, perhaps that’s why he assumed I was older than I am.
Yeah, I’m gonna go with that.
In 1965 the British group The Who released one of their most well known songs, “My Generation.” An anthem of youthful rebellion, it featured the now infamous line “I hope I die before I get old.” Naturally the lyric wasn’t meant to be taken literally and meant that the writer (guitarist Pete Townsend) would rather die than stagnate. although he has stated that, to him at the time, “old” meant “rich.” Aww, what the fuck does it matter anyway? Those guys were all on drugs anyway. At 68, vocalist Roger Daltry, who sang Townsend’s lyrics, is indeed old according to our established parameters. The only member of The Who to make good on My Generation‘s promise was drummer Keith Moon, who drowned in 1978 at the age of 32. Bassist John Entwistle passed in 2002 at 58. He may not have actually been “old” yet, but he was close enough that it doesn’t count.
It’s the spirit of that lyric that’s important here, I think; and I’m sure that both Townsend and Daltry would be inclined to agree. In any case, I’d like to continue thinking that I’m still not really old yet. Now you goddamn kids get off my lawn and turn down that racket or I’m gonna call the cops.