Shaw Thoughts

Shaw Thoughts: Me and my 65-year-old self

2013-07-30T09:00:00Z Shaw Thoughts: Me and my 65-year-old selfAndy Shaw nwitimes.com
July 30, 2013 9:00 am  • 

Am I really 65?

Yes Andrew, you really are.

Why did you call me Andrew?

Because that’s what I call you when you ask dumb questions. You know how old you are.

Yes and no. I mean, my 65th birthday was in June, but it actually marked the beginning of my 66th year, so maybe I’m 66.

What do you mean? You’re confusing me here.

I mean that families mark a baby’s first birthday—the day when they’re a year old—after they’ve lived one year and are about to begin their second. So are they one or could we say two?

Andrew.

OK, the real issue is that 65 feels old.

Old? They say 65 is the new 45, so you’re young.

Then why do my hips and knees and legs and back hurt?

Because you’ve been running for 40 years and that wears out your lower extremities, and you’re exercising your core muscles for golf. What did you expect? No pain, no gain.

But you said I’m virtually 45, and nothing ached back then.

“Back then” you were the new 35, OK?

OK, so as I was saying, I’m feeling old. I have grandchildren now.

Big deal—lots of people have grandchildren, and some are only in their 40s.

Right, but I want to live long enough to see them married and having their own children, but I’ll have to be 90 for that to happen.

Ninety, Andrew, is the new 70.

OK, enough already. I’m outa here.

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Paul McCartney characterized “old age” as 64 in his iconic Beatles song, but he was British and we knew the real beginning of obsolescence for Americans was 65.

That’s when you retired, started collecting social security and getting health coverage through Medicare.

But that prediction turns out to be as accurate as the picture of 21st century earthlings flying around their neighborhoods in jet-propelled space suits.

I’m still working as hard as ever, and Mary, the Shaw family CFO, says I’m not collecting social security for a few more years because waiting increases the payout.

So Myth #1—the retirement game plan--has been shattered.

Sixty-five is also when I told Mary I would start smoking again, after several decades of abstinence. When I said that, a couple decades ago, I still considered 65 old enough to re-start a bad habit without appreciably shortening my life because it would almost be over anyway.

Now I know better—I could live another two or three decades --so I’ll never resume that nasty habit, mostly because it’s so nasty, but also because it could still kill me prematurely.

And I’m really the new 45, right? And I want to enjoy the grandchildren and their parents, so I have to maintain my abstinence.

There goes Myth #2.

There are a few other things I know now that I wouldn’t have predicted accurately a decade or two ago:

*I need less sleep--5 or 6 hours a night instead of eight—but the repose is generally interrupted by a 3 a.m. potty call. No parsing needed here.

*I still jog most mornings, but not far and not fast—a couple ten-minute miles four or five times a week—so it’s more of a slog than a jog.

*My metabolism has slowed down so it’s no surprise I’m ten pounds heavier than I was at age 60. Thankfully I was trim at 60, so I’m less trim at 65 but still OK.

*I make more email mistakes than I did a few years ago, so I should slow down and proofread better. In that same vein I need Senor Google a lot more often when I’m doing crossword puzzles. I just can’t access the answers like I used to; I know I know them but they don’t move from my brain to my erasable pen very quickly.

*I enjoy my grandchildren more than I ever imagined, partly because I can borrow them for a few hours or a couple days of fun, and then return them to their rightful owners for the heavy lifting.

And also because it brings back the joy of raising my own children, which was one of my most satisfying, albeit challenging, life experiences.

Hey—I’m 65.

I think we’ve been here before.

So it’s only a number, but it connotes things that are obvious, surprising, counterintuitive or all of the above.

That’s profound, Andrew.

Andrew again?

OK, we’ll go with Andy here because your column may be trite and light and lacking in bite, but it comes from the heart, and that’s all right.

What’s with the rhymes?

I’ve been listening to Jesse Jackson tapes.

Jesse Jackson? That’s my old political beat, when I was young and strong and fast and trim. What do you know about him?

As much as you do pal. I’m your alter ego, and I love you, so Happy Birthday.

65 and still very much alive.

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