Saturday, April 16, 2011

You Know You're Getting Old When...

My middle child turns twenty tomorrow, leading me to a couple of inescapable conclusions:

1) I'm old, and

2) I'm old.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. I think it might have been WC Fields who said of aging, "It beats the alternative." I wholeheartedly agree, although at the moment I'm still reasonably healthy and have most of my marbles. If either of those things changes, maybe my viewpoint on the subject will change as well.

But this whole "getting older" stuff did start me thinking about how much things have changed in my lifetime. So here, without further ado, and because if I wait any longer I might forget what I'm writing about, is my list of Ways to Tell if you're Getting Old:

You know you're getting old when car commercials refer to the "command center" and you remember it as the "dashboard."

Of course, it didn't magically become the "command center." After "dashboard," some marketing genius undoubtedly came up with the brilliant notion that car companies could get away with charging more for a vehicle with an "instrument panel." In short order, "instrument panel" became "instrument cluster," which somewhere along the line morphed into "command center."

You'll notice that with all these changes, cars didn't get any cheaper.

You know you're getting old when you can vividly recall taking sides in the heated VHS/Betamax debate.

It seems almost quaint now, doesn't it? VHS or Betamax? I wonder if, three decades from now, people will be just as amused by our current Kindle/Nook flame wars.

You know you're getting old when you can remember dialing your phone by actually, you know, dialing your phone.

When I was a kid, we had one telephone in our house. It was big and black and it sat on the end of our kitchen counter, and you dialed it by sticking your finger in that plastic rotary thing (the dial) at the digit you wanted, and cranking it clockwise as far as it would go, then letting go. The plastic dial would spin around, and when it stopped, you would do the same thing again for the second digit in the phone number. And you would keep doing it until the telephone number had been completed.

God help you if the number was busy, because then you had to start the whole thing over again. Automatic redial? Forget it. Call waiting? Please. That would have been magic.

You know you're getting old when you remember "rap" as what your teacher did to your knuckles with a ruler when you weren't paying attention in class.

I don't know if education was any better when I went to school. Everyone seems to think it was, but I'm not so sure that's true. One thing I can tell you, though, is that it was a hell of a lot more painful.

You know you're getting old when you can remember filling your gas tank without maxing out your credit card.

Unfortunately, it might not be long before we're remembering fondly the days of $4.00 a gallon gas.

You know you're getting old when you remember getting your first color television and being absolutely certain TV could never get any better than this.

I grew up outside Boston, and the night we got our first color TV, we ate dinner in the living room watching it. We could receive four channels pretty well: ABC, NBC, CBS and PBS. If you didn't mind putting up with a little snow (most of the time on the inside of the TV), we could also watch Channel 9 out of Manchester, New Hampshire. And that was it.

Cable was a car in San Francisco, and TiVo was decades away from being born. Hell, the guy who invented TiVo was probably decades away from being born. High Definition TV was just a gleam in some geek's eye, as was 3-D TV.

I'll say this, though. Watching Hogan's Heroes in color was like opening my eyes to a whole new world.

There are plenty of other ways to tell you're getting old, but it's almost nine o'clock, which makes it way past my bed time. I have to leave myself a little extra sleep time for all those nocturnal trips to the bathroom. I'm not getting any younger, you know.


Julia Madeleine said...

Great post Allan! My daughter just turned 18 last week so I know how you feel. I swear I was just 18 myself a couple of years ago.

But this age thing catches you so off guard sometimes. The other day as I was trying very hard to read the cooking instructions on the side of a box of instant rice written in micoscopic letters, it occured to me why old people wear those reading glasses on a chain around their neck. It’s genius is what it is. And then the next though was, wow, I must be getting old when I’m staring to look at all those stupid things older people do and thinking how practical they are. It’s almost bitter-sweet.

I like W.C. Fields take on it :)

Al Leverone said...

Hi Julia, I have to say, you look a lot better for having an 18 year old than I do (I have one of those, too, as well as a 22 year old)!

Isn't it weird how the older you get, the smaller the print gets on everything? I'm lucky, though, I can still make out the letters on my keyboard. I hope to hell my eyesight never gets so bad that I have to write by using one of those voice-dictating things; half the time I don't know what I'm going to say until my fingers start typing it out...