Saturday, July 26, 2008

Don't Tell Me I'm Getting Old

In a few weeks, I will walk, as I have every fall for 36 years, into a classroom full of exciting, young (did I say young?) law students, eager for knowledge. And for 37 years in a row, I will be tall, dark and handsome, weigh 165 pounds, and have a full head of black hair. The students are young. I am forever surrounded by young adults, so I remain equally young.

The neighborhood auto parts, book store, butcher, dentist, doctor, drug store, five and dime, gas station, grocery, hardware store, hobby shop, ice cream parlor, Laundromat, luncheonette, movie theatre, pet store, pharmacy, and tv repairman are gone, but I’m still here. The call box is no more, and the pay phone is following it into oblivion, but I’m as young as ever. The Surf Theatre, Busy Bee Market, and Canterbury Books are no longer in San Francisco, but then neither am I. Bowling alleys are disappearing fast, and generations will miss out on the thrills of drive-in theatres, and the downtown emporiums with their exotic merchandise.

The bars and churches have remained though. Neither has aged a day. The bars have a valuable license from the state, and the churches an eternal license from God.

The reunions have past quickly in the night: 25, 30, 35, 40 (missed that college reunion).

When I turned 40, it was as though someone took out a voodoo doll with my name on it and started sticking pins into it. I discovered muscles, joints, tendons, ligaments, and organs I never knew existed. I don’t know if it was prostatitus or prostatodynia, but the pain was excruciating either way. I leant that as men age, the prostrate gland is women’s revenge on men.

I had crowns put in on the right, and crowns on the left. My mouth is a crown, working on the second generation, but the smile is still young.

When I turned 50, the membership invitations from the AARP flooded the mailbox. AARP is relentless. Even when you pass on, as my father-in-law did years ago, the renewal requests continue.

And when I turned 50 and took a position at Chapman, I immediately became the senior member of the faculty, joining that club, as we called them decades earlier, of “olde farts.”

I started teaching in a cohort of almost a dozen at Ohio Northern University in 1972. I’m the last in the Academy. Most have retired, a few have left us, and one exited the academy in a spectacular manner by shooting and killing a colleague. Who ever said nothing ever happens in Ada, Ohio?

When I turned 55, I qualified for senior discounts at the bank and movie theatres, but where are the movies for non-teens?

60 went by without a peep, except for another round of invasive medical exams.

Yea, I know my hearing’s down, with the weight, cholesterol and blood pressure up. I do not always hear, much less understand, today’s music, but the songs of the 60’s will always be young (cf. Neil Young, Jesse Colin Young, Youngbloods).. They still play on the turntable, and the stereo is as good as young. If Saturday Night Live were as good as thirty years ago, then maybe, just maybe, I might be able to stay up late and watch it.

I still read newspapers and hardcopy. I know though that today’s young will not read “War and Peace” on a laptop by the beach.

Yes, you are only as old as you feel, and I feel forever young at heart. But then again, only the good die young, and that’s a sobering thought.

I appreciate Winston (not Ward) Churchill’s sage advice that “If you’re not a liberal when you’re 25, you have no heart. If you’re not a conservative by the time you’re 35, you have no brain.” So what if he never said it; it sounds Churchillian.

So what’s my point? I received a piece of junk mail today from the American Bar Association, soliciting my membership in the Senior Lawyers Division of the ABA. They’re telling me I’m old. I never joined the Young Lawyers Division, so why would I want to join the Senior Lawyers Division?

As long as I can stand in front of the class, I shall be young.

No comments: