Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Not older ...better

I am getting better. Wiser. But I continue to sense a generation gap, whether at work or at play.

Little things. A few years ago I came to the realization, which I have mentioned to my religious ed students (5th grade) that people graduating from high school were exactly HALF my age. At which point any reference to their looks qualifies me as a dirty old man? (I didn't share that part.)

Little things. More than once I have addressed a young man as "son."

Little things. Sometimes I think about what's for dinner before I order lunch.

I have never made a big deal about my age, especially my birthday (I am a Christmas baby which is a whole other story). And I turned 40 two years ago, which was no big deal other than my metabolism seemed to grind to a screeching halt and I found myself thinking about what's for dinner before I had lunch.

I have always been big on exercise, swimming as much as possible for stress relief and to stay in shape. But my body recovers a little slower than it used to. I marvel at Nolan Ryan, throwing a no-hitter at 44. Without steroids, I hope.

A couple of recent "touchpoints" have left me thinking, however. First is a younger colleague at work. We have a solid working relationship and enjoy getting to know him despite what seems like a minor age difference of 12 years. It manifests in little things, like the time he was talking about trivia night at one of his watering holes and said, innocently enough, "Your probably not too old to join me." Or when I was talking about Michigan basketball (he's an alum, I am not) and realized the players I was speaking of played when he was 6 years old. To him "Fantasy Island" is probably a web site for rotisserie baseball.

The second one is two recent shows that are clearly generational. The first is the movie "It's Complicated." What a riot. Had me falling out of my chair. But there is little chance my younger friends would find it funny in the way I do. Not many 25 or 30 year olds have complicated lives. At least not complicated by things like being divorced and dating, dealing with kids, typically. My wife is a Godsend, and she got what she signed up for.

Life without a spouse and kids is less comlicated, for the most part. Right? And they are young. As they say, the problem with youth is it is wasted on the young.

I also enjoy the show "Men of a Certain Age." The portrayals of middle aged men are dead on. But I have a feeling those under 30 just wouldn't get a lot of the humor. One scene which stands out is was when Andre Braugher's wife responds to his desire to take "time away" from work after being hospitalized with the standard "Of course, I support you no matter what," followed quickly by, "No wait, that's just not true. We are adding onto our house, three kids. Uh uh." Or something to that effect. Smart writing and honest characters.

Young people think they are indestructable. I did, we all did. Now we realize yes, there is a slow end, even if I am barely half way there. And yet what "Men" captures is the longing we all have to take risks combined with the comfort which comes from knowing ourselves, or at least trying to. We all want to be desirable, wanted, and vigorous at any age.

I wouldn't trade my "complications" for anything. And I enjoy seeing them played out on screen. It seems that there are a handful of shows or movies which capture "normal" life, instead of a sanitized Hollywood version. But 15 years ago I would not have related the way I do today.

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