Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Time Marches On

No More Birthday “Celebrations”

     Birthdays I remember fondly: Sixteen. Eighteen. Twenty-one. Twenty-five. Forty. No doubt you’ll notice I skipped Thirty, because I didn’t like that one. It was proof that I was Past My Youth. But Forty was great! I was finally a Real Grown-Up. I’ve tried to ignore Milestone Birthdays past Forty. They started to be what they all are, really, the inevitability of approaching Old Age. Which is where I am firmly ensconced now, and which is why I’ve decided to no longer celebrate my birthday. Oh, I have no choice but to acknowledge they take place, but I don’t intend to celebrate them. Lunch with good friends so we can commiserate. And we will.
     I love Facebook. I joined in 2008 when I realized what a great tool social media is in spreading the word about an upcoming event. Setting up an event page and spreading the word has become the modern day equivalent of that old word-of-mouth tool, “the grapevine,” as in “I heard by the grapevine.” I’m sure if you use social media to your best advantage, you reach many more people than you do through newspaper advertising. And unless you have gobs of money, who can afford to advertise on television?
     Since I had to set up an account, I included my birthday. Notice I did not say my “birthdate,” because I kept the year private. I was already old and didn’t really feel a need to broadcast that fact. So on my first Facebook birthday, it was fun to get greetings from lots of people I seldom heard from otherwise. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy Facebook. I’ve reconnected with people from my past and it’s been great to catch up with them. One is a woman I attended junior high school with and we’ve developed an entirely new and rewarding friendship. We’re on different coasts but email makes it possible for us to stay in close touch.
     I’m definitely glad I’ve lived to enjoy the benefits of technology. I love my smart phone which I had resisted getting until about a year and a half ago. I wonder how we managed back in the olden days without this stuff. If I’d had a cellphone when I was in high school, my entire life might have been different. Or maybe not. It’s been a darned good one, in any event.
     And without a computer I seriously doubt I would have begun to write. Three books in less than two years has been a wonderful surprise at this stage in my life, and writing this blog is immensely enjoyable. I’ve always liked to write. I think I’m beginning to learn how to do it. It’s fun, but it’s also challenging. Thankfully, no arthritis. At least, not yet. You never know when one of those benefits of aging is apt to jump up and bite you.
     Back to that “celebrating your birthday” thing. A couple of years ago I was given a royal treat by one of my wonderful children, a town car and driver into New York City, a meal at a great restaurant in Little Italy and two tickets to “Wicked.” I figured that was the capper on my birthday celebrations and I had a great time. But let’s face it. Have you ever heard anyone say, “Oh, I’m so excited to be fifty!” Or “I can’t wait to be sixty-five so I can start drawing social security!”
     I think it was Bette Davis who said, “Old age ain’t for sissies.” Boy, was she ever right. I know I am very fortunate to have enjoyed good health way past that sixty-five mark and I appreciate that I still have my mental faculties (I think), and am able to take care of myself fairly well. Some things I can’t do physically are things I have never been able to do physically because I am neither tall nor strong, but I never was. I can still drive. My vision is decent and my reflexes are still good.
     But I notice that more and more television commercials (when I watch commercial TV ─ I mainly watch old movies on TCM) are for medications for primarily people for whom “the aging process” has created various problems. Another trend is for “retirement communities” and “assisted living facilities.” When I was young (back in the early days of television) we never saw this kind of commercial. I have to say it makes me wonder if the aging population of this country has become a source for big business? Just saying.
     I continue to work with teenagers as a high school musical theater director. It keeps me on my toes and helps keep those mental faculties pretty sharp. The kids must know I’m nearly as old as God but they are sweet to me anyway. I like to see them succeed. I do everything I can to help them succeed. Maybe that’s why I’m still kicking, because I think I have something to offer them. I see them on the threshold of life and would never, ever discourage them from looking forward with oceans of hope. I remember that feeling.
     Back to Facebook (us elderly folks’ minds tend to wander), this year I made my birthday information private. The people who I’m close to may continue to acknowledge my birthday, but it’s okay if they don’t. Someone somewhere wrote something (sorry, I’m old so sometimes I forget specifics, though I vividly remember my sixteenth birthday … a quiet family celebration, that’s the way we did it back then) … anyway, something like “pick an age you like and stick with it.” Maybe George Carlin? He had great thoughts on this aging thing.
     I’ve decided forty-two was a good year. That’s just between us; birthday wishes not necessary. Excuse me, I need to check and see how many Twitter followers I have today.