Sunday, December 4, 2011

Of A Certain Age

(For John. You were a good man. Rest in peace my friend.)

“It’s a shame we have to die my dear, but no one’s getting out of here alive.”
- Dave Grohl, Foo Fighters

I got some sad news today as an old friend from my childhood days died. Johnny Allen, age 52, passed away from cancer. John grew up across the street from me, and we were pretty close as kids – climbing trees, building snow forts, that kind of stuff. Little Johnny Allen. Dead. Reality check for sure.

I know I am getting older. Hell, every person on this side of the ground is. But I am now getting to the point in my life where I go, wow, I’m 53. I really should be acting my age.

Someone tell me what that is, please.

I have heard older people say ‘You’re only as young as you feel’ or ‘Age is just a number.’ True. And I don’t feel – or  act – 53. Heck, some may say I am still like the 10-year old kid climbing trees with Johnny Allen and that in certain areas I need to mature. I get that, but I tend to reject those pieces of advice. Stubborn streak I guess. I want to remain childlike but not be childish. And I know I have a long way to go in both those areas. I still have the ‘wow’ amazement of a child, which I want to keep, but I also have traits that make people shake their heads and say grow the F up. Good with the bad I guess. But I have to wake up to me every day so I will try to keep to my internal gut barometer on what is or isn’t acceptable. Like I like to say – the only perfect man was hung on a cross with nails through his hands and feet.

I’ve had some recent experiences that has reinforced the fact that most of my life is now behind me. Example – I just friended someone on Facebook, a guy I see every week at the place here in Orlando where us Browns fans congregate. He’s just Shaun to me, a fellow bud. Then I noticed he was born in 1976 – the same year I graduated high school. Here’s a guy that I just think of as a fellow suffering Browns fan, and he is, but he could be my son. Wow.

Many times you see these email threads where people reminisce of what it was like when they were younger, to illustrate how much things have changed. Well, here’s my list –

I remember straight-on Kickers in the NFL.
I remember when there was an AFL.
I remember watching Nixon resign on national TV.
Our TV growing up had three stations – CBS, NBC & ABC.  Period.
We listened to music on albums or on 8-track tapes.
I owned 8-track tapes.

It’s hard to believe that those experiences peg me as ‘getting old’. Oh well. On the plus side of the ledger, I am still alive, and do not look my age. And a couple months back I actually had a 27-year-old girlfriend. She was born in 1983 – when I was two years removed from college & trying to pick up, well, 27-year olds. So I got that going for me.

But boy, some days I do feel my age. My annual checkups now consist of the obligatory prostate check & colonoscopies. So I guess, for a man at least, that aging means having a doctor stick things in your ass.

Good luck finding something there. Besides my head. 

But as Johnny showed, we can be snuffed out at any time. To that end, they say to live your life to the fullest. Well sure. But also, just live your life. Because, just like me, you have to wake up with yourself every day.

I hope you like what you see.

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