Tuesday, May 19, 2009


A brief reflection on turning the big 5-0 this week

"No, no Jimi... Here, let me help you with that... It goes like this..."

Who is that old guy with Jimi?? Good Lord, how did that happen?

That's me with Jimi Hendrix at Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum in London. I'd actually hoped to have a picture taken with the wax effigy of Pope Benedict, but they must have had him in storage somewhere... I had my confession all planned out, too.

Good ole' Jimi... Gone since 1970, he'll forever be known to us as 27 years old. As for me? Well, I needed a new passport for this last trip. My old passport photo was from 1984. Let me tell you, the last 25 years have not been especially kind on the visage. I wouldn't have recognized myself between the two. It was like looking at The Picture of Dorian Gray. :D

For many, many years I actually looked young for my age. Then my hair went gray rather quickly, and now I look my age or maybe even a little bit older. That middle-aged shift was tough to get used to. Most of the time I don't feel like I'm getting older, maybe because we still have a couple of kids under the age of 10, but then again, sometimes I do feel it too, like when I pass a large mirror or see a photo. I loathe being photographed now. Anne laughs at my foolish vanity, but you know what? She doesn't like having her photo taken either.

Such tail-end baby-boomers. I'm sure we'll be in the set of boomers who won't get any Social Security money or Medicaire because the front-enders will have tapped it all out.

It's a bit disconcerting to come to the realization that certain bodily systems seem to have genetically-determined expiration dates built into them. There once was a time when I had 20-15 vision. At around the age of 46 or 47, there was a day when I didn't need reading glasses, and the next day when I did. Just like that. All of a sudden. Immediately. That's just for starters... For example, I had to play in a father-son soccer game last year. Not that I needed to, but I was wondering if I would still be able to sprint flat-out, because quite frankly, it had been a number of years since I had even tried to run at full-speed. The good news was that I was still able to sprint. Sort of. In a way. That was gratifying. The bad news is that ever since, my right knee hurts when I climb stairs... Did I forget to mention that making a fool out of yourself trying to retain your aging jock-status is another one of those middle-aged syndromes?

My advice is, don't get old.

If you must, age like fine wine.

If you can't do that, take up drinking it.

Red wine, that is. You'll need the anti-oxidants.

Somebody pointed out a blog to me recently regarding a different topic, and I noticed that it also happened to have some enjoyable and extremely well-written essays on turning 50:

Turning 50, I: The Great Change

Turning 50, III: Youth Dies Hard. (Ask Dreams.)

Turning 50, VI: Nature Is Your Best Friend ... NOT.

Granted, they are written from a woman's perspective, but a lot could hold true regardless of gender.

By the way, Anne and I have a hot date for my birthday at the Museum of Fine Arts: Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese: Rivals in Renaissance Venice


Liam said...

Happy birthday, Jeff!

I also have the looking younger than I am thing, but age and grad school have turned my visage into a terrifying baby-old man combo. Oh, well.

Have fun in the exhibit. With all due respect to Tintoretto, I think Veronese and Titian will be the ones going to the finals.

Jeff said...

Liam lives!

Thanks. Hey, I follow the Facebook threads every now and then, and do my eyes deceive me? Has the great project finally been completed? Has King Alfonso had his last charter scrutinized? Is this thing finally over, for real??

"...but age and grad school have turned my visage into a terrifying baby-old man combo. Oh, well."

Ha. Maybe that's an Irish thing. Another curse of the Irish, of which there seem to be so many... My friend Joe talks about the terror of becoming a "skinny fat person."

Garpu said...

I guess I'm not too freaked out about aging. What happens, happens.

Happy birthday!

Jeff said...

Easy to say while you're still young! :D

Back in the day, I thought I could always continue to eat like a horse and still see my abs forever. Oh, not so, not so...

And those 3 AM Domino's pizzas from way back then have come back to haunt me. Can you spell ZANTAC?

Thanks, Jen! :)

Brother Charles said...

Happy birthday, Jeff!

Jeff said...

Hey, there's the other Charles. Thanks!

crystal said...

Happy Birthday! I looked for a nice birthday song for you, hope you like it :) It lives here

Jeff said...

Cute, Crystal, thanks! As Douglas Adams' dolphins would say, "Thanks for the fish." :)

"You didn't die this year, I guess that's good enough."

Ha. Actually, that's true. My dad passed away at the age of 49. I've outlived him. Believe it or not, that was a very big psychological hurdle to get over.

Maria said...

Happy Birthday!

I started having unbirthday's last year. On Tuesday, I'll be 38. I miss the day when I looked 27. I looked 27 for a long, long time. I don't look my age by any means, but I don't think I'd get mistaken for a 20-something.

I really hope your birthday is fabulous and you get everything you wish for.


Jeff said...

Thanks, Maria, and Happy Birthday to you too!

Sure, you can still pass for 20-something. :)

victor said...

On fifty Jeff! You had me going for awhile cause I thought you were 253 but obviously you must have been talking about your spirit and/or soul. :)

Anyway I just popped in and saw this and also wanted to wish your body a happy 50th Birthday! With God's Help your soul and spirit might catch UP to you someday.

Peace and God Bless all your future birthdays.

Jeff said...

Thanks, Vic!

Yeah, I don't know where the 253 thing comes from on the profile. Maybe that's in dog years.

victor said...

To be honest Jeff I was born in the year of the dog and I was going to suggest that but I noticed that you were a rat. :)

I hear ya Jeff! What do you mean by that Victor?

Nothing really Jeff!

Happy Birthday

Jeff said...


A rat I may very well be, but the year 1959 was the Year of the Pig, I thought. At least the same paper zodiac placemat at every cheap Chinese restaurant I ever visited informed me of that.

victor said...


A rat I may very well be, but the year 1959 was the Year of the Pig, I thought. At least the same paper zodiac place mat at every cheap Chinese restaurant I ever visited informed me of that.<<

Now that you've mentioned that you were not born in the year of the rat, they might correct that mistake. Hey! I didn't mean to imply that you were a rat on your birthday but I do love pigs and as a matter of fact I eat them all the time. When I was growing up on the farm, I saw my dad tie them by their hind legs in the air and let them bleed.

I hear ya! Now what do you mean by that Victor?

OH Nothing Jeff! I hope you had a great Birthday Party! :)

Jeff said...


By the way, I don't know if you'll see this or not, it was really close but IMHO I have to give Tintoretto the slight edge over Veronese... Titian, of course, is the man.

cowboyangel said...

Happy belated birthday, Jeff!

I'd rather be 50 and a little stiff than 27 and dead.

May the coming year be your best ever. With the wisdom of age and the energy of youth.

It can happen. Here's a 51 year-old in love: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kWUtW_tMBmE

Best to you.

Jeff said...

Good old Fred, dancin' on the ceiling. He was 51 when he did that number? No kidding? That's inspirational.