This week I turn 60 and I'm as proud as I can be. Three score and zip. What an accomplishment. I got my AARP card in the mail and I qualify for the senior citizen discount at Chuck-a-Rama. Is this a great country or what?
It's been a long and bumpy road for me to live to be 60, but I've enjoyed every mile. I've seen things and done things that no one will ever be able to see or do again, and I'm proud. Don't weep for me Argentina. I've earned every gray hair.
I never expected to get this far toward old age. Forty seemed old to me once. Fifty was ancient, and 60 was robbing the grave. It's funny how that horizon has been pushed back as I've inched my way past those magic milestones: 40, 50, and now even 60. Seventy doesn't look so bad anymore, and 80 is doable. Age is relative. Next to Robert Redford and Burt Reynolds, I'm a spring chicken.
There are some advantages in growing older. Some people get to retire and set on the porch, drink lemonade, and cuss the neighbor's dog. Dinner is two bucks at the senior citizen's center, and people from church don't call to ask you to help someone move anymore. The neighbor kid comes over to cut your lawn once in a while, and the trick-or-treaters leave you alone because they know there really is an old ogre living in your house.
A lot of places offer senior discounts when you get to be 60: restaurants, motels, mail order pharmacies, funeral homes, sky diving school, and some Buick dealers. You can go on vacation anytime, and now that the kids are raised you don't have to go to places like Lagoon ever again. Everyday is Saturday if you want it to be, and you can visit the kids and grandkids and go home when you get tired, cranky, or hassled. You can eat all of your meals in front of the TV because there's only you and grandma and you each have your own recliner. Old King Solomon never had it so good.
Another advantage is less and less peer pressure as you get older and outlive the people you grew up with. There are fewer and fewer people to dispute your stories and your account of how things went down. You don't have to be as careful about facts, dates, and names when you get older because the people who know better are all dead.
And there's humor in growing old too. Your arms get so short you can't read the paper without glasses anymore, and it's good to wear a camouflage shirt because it doesn't show mustard spots from lunch. You have to stand in front of a mirror to center your belt buckle, and your muscle tone goes to "C" flat.
Hair falls from your head but grows out of your ears, and you're so blind you can't see it. And you get so shaky you've got to use an electric razor to keep from cutting your nose off while shaving. Your teeth are chipped like grandma's old china, and your eyebrows grow like bramble bushes.
You seldom see the weather report because dinner and the TV news people put you to sleep. You don't have to give your seat on the bus to little old ladies anymore because little old ladies are younger than you.
But overall, turning 60 is great. I highly recommend it. It beats the alternative. And besides, Mother Nature is kind as we grow older. This was brought home to me just the other day. Jeannie and I were getting ready to go to a wedding reception. We were standing in front of a mirror getting dressed. She was putting on makeup and I was cleaning my glasses. She started to giggle.
"What?" I asked.
"Isn't nature wonderful," she said. "The more wrinkled I get, the more blind you get. It all balances out." What a girl.
So don't call to wish me a happy birthday. I probably won't be home. For my birthday this year I've ordered a coyote hunt with my boys. But for those of you who want to help me have a great birthday, I'm registered at Cabela's and Sportsman's Warehouse (wink).