Sunday, February 25, 2007

I'm Not Old

I was eating lunch with a friend the other day. She was talking about her sick friend, her husband's upcoming big birthday, her mid-life crisis of sorts.
"I'm not looking forward to this next phase of life," she said.
"Getting older. What's to come."

Age, I've decided after years of watching people, is a matter mostly of luck and partly of mindset. Mostly of luck. I've seen people who are old by 40. I've seen people in their 70's, and sometimes even 80's, who are still full of life. I recently treated a man in his early 90's who still had stuff going on.

"I'm not getting old," I said. I feel fine, why would I spend my time thinking about impending disability.

My friend is a runner, she's tall, slim, beautiful, and has two sons in elementary school. She looked at me shocked.

"You're my age. You're in denial."
Perhaps I am. My children, especially the younger one, tell me I'm old at every turn. Actually, I'm a bit younger than most of their friends' parents. I tell them so, it bounces off and lands with a thud.

Back in the day, I think. I can remember, and I'll leave you with a list:

Going to the library to do research out of books.
Finding those books after looking them up in the big card catalogue which took up half the room.
Finding journal references in The Readers' Guide To Periodic Literature (or something like that) and reading the reels on microfilm.

Answering the phone, attached to the wall.
Not knowing who was calling until you actually answered.
Dialing. Really, dialing.
Staying home to wait for a call.
Using pay phones, routinely.
I was in med school the first time I saw a cell phone. It looked like a vacuum cleaner. Well, not really.

Television in black and white, though the neighbors had color.
Getting up to change the channel.
TV Kids who said "Golly Gee" and no one cursed.
Saying to my big brother: "I turned it on, you turn it off," when no one wanted to get up.
Saying to my big brother: "You turned it on, you turn it off," when no one wanted to get up.
Television shows that had to be watched when they aired, not on video tapes or TiVo.
Movies on big screens only, as double features.

Radio: shaped like an orange ball that played AM only. Taking it to the beach.
Records that came as 45's and 33's and got scratches.
Oddly enough, all the recording artists were the same then as now.

Riding in cars without buckling the seat belts. (I don't remember ever being in a car that actually didn't have seat belts).
Cars where you stuck the key into the lock to open the door.
Cars with roll down windows.

Typewriters. I remember typewriters. I even remember manual Smith Coronas. I remember carbon paper and erasable paper. (Oh my God, I AM old.)
Keypunch and all those keypunch cards. I remember COBAL.
Huge computers that filled cold rooms. Something called DEC-10.
Volkswriter, and then WordPerfect.

Elavil and haldol and there was no Prozac, no atypical anti-psychotics.
Patients stayed in psychiatric units for weeks to months, and even years.
I remember psychiatric units with Adirondack chairs on the lawns and patients went home on overnight passes.
Psychiatric residents who routinely had personal analyses (this may have been a New York thing).

I remember classrooms filled with wild little boys who didn't take stimulants.
I remember a time when I'd never met a child with autism. Learning about autism in college, a very rare condition.

I remember Tab and the world before Diet Coke. Cheerios were unflavored and the only bread was white bread. Scooter pies, Pop tarts and plastic Twinkies tasted good, but Cap'n Crunch ruled. Ronald McDonald toured and lines ran around the block.

So maybe I am old. Someone, please hand me my cane.


Dinah said...


sophizo said...

OMG...I feel sooooo old now! Thanks a lot! I'm only 30 and I remember most of the things you listed (minus the B&W tv and radio part). Ugh! Darn young whipper-snappers!

I guess this means either I'm also really old or you're not as old as you make yourself seem.

Dinah said...

I seem old?????
I'm NOT!

Gerbil said...

I'm 27 and remember most of that stuff too... even though I might look too young to remember life without microwaves, remote controls, CDs, and personal computers.

Sometimes my friends get annoyed that I won't choose a different ring for my cell phone--one which I can hear over the noise of the bus, car, dishwasher, etc. But before we had home answering machines (the kind with tapes, even!) normal people didn't get all bent out of shape when they couldn't reach someone immediately.

I am totally a telephonic fuddy-duddy.

But Dinah? You're only as old as you let yourself be.

Sarebear said...

Have a candy cane! That'll do. I remember3/4 or more of all that stuff, too . . . eeeee.

I remember when the first personal computers used TAPE drives . . .

I remember when going out for fast food was a special thing (maybe cause we had a family of 6 kids lol) instead of just a common thing.

I remember watching Gilligan's Island they get rescued off the island and somehow end up back on it, specials, on regular tv, first run.

I remember REAL event tv, not what they tout nowadays - the annual Sound of Music, on TV, and how it marked my progression of being allowed to stay up a little later every year, by how much more I got to see (for years I had to go to bed right after/during the puppet show!).

Same thing for Wizard of Oz, except I got to see the whole thing as it was shorter.

Mary Poppins was also an annual TV Event, as was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

I remember my dad making apple dumplings whenever the Apple Dumpling gang was on, and the eager anticipation of the hot, flakey crust enrobing a juicy, tart/sweet baked apple and the scent of cinnamon mingled in . . . . (dagnabbit my mouth is watering . . .)

Escape to and Return from Witch Mountain were also TV events we children looked forward to, although the latter was rarely on.


I'm 26 and can remember most of that too. I particularly remember how proud I was when I wrote my first line of code as a child, on my brand-new Commodore64. :D

Sarebear said...

Programming in BASIC on a Vic20 . . . woohoo!!

Childhood geeks, unite!

Rach said...

See, and this makes me feel really young because I don't remember any of it...

Cue "You can't always get what you want" by the Rolling Stones.

Sarebear said...

Oh, and Dinah? The night of the day I had read the excerpt of your book on Amazon, I had a dream/nightmare with Mr. Spock from Star Trek, dressed in drag, in it.

He played rather prominently in the dream, although it wasn't all about him/

Anyway, when I woke up, I thought, "THANK you very much for that imagery, Dinah!" Lol. At night my brain just pulls stuff from the day and uses it however it will . . .

Sarebear said...

Er, addendum to anyone wanting to read Dinah's book: There are no Vulcans in drag in her book (at least the excerpt I read on Amazon, the dang thing hasn't come yet!). That I know of. But if you read the excerpt you know from whence my twisted imagination pulled that little gem and morphed it into the oh-so-luscious Mr. Spock (when he's NOT in women's clothing!), in women's clothing.

Anonymous said...

EEK, How can someone who is twenty seven be old????? I am lucky in that my twelve year old does not view me as old (even though I am but only in body and not in spirit). When we went to Claire's to use a gift card she had she looked at earrings. Most of them had multiple pairs in one pack and I told her she needed more holes in her ears since she only has two,and I offered to pierce more for her. She didn't bite. One of the teenage girls looked at me and smiled. (her mother scowled.
I feel oldest at the gas station though, because I remember going with my father (neither of us wearing seatbelts) as a kid and the price of gas was thrirty nine cents a gallon. I told my daughter this but she was not fazed.
I believe age is mostly a state of mind (and good genes) You can not be old Hanid because then I would be too. I love you abf

ClinkShrink said...

You know you're old when all three of us bloggers are using large font sizes for our posts.