'Matter of Laugh or Death,' the award-winning humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
WHAT IS ‘MIDDLE AGE’?
A friend of mine, who is in her mid-40s, was offended recently when someone remarked that the bunion on her foot was “just one those things that happens when you get to be middle-aged.”
“Middle-aged?!” she exclaimed. “I’m not middle-aged! I’m still young! There’s not a gray hair on my head!” (Thanks to the miracle of modern science and Miss Clairol.)
Anyway, this incident prompted a discussion about the true definition of “middle age.” My wife and I and a few of our friends who are also in the—let’s see, how should I phrase this?—in the “nouveau maturity age bracket,” sat around the kitchen table and debated the question: When does someone officially become middle-aged?
Overhearing our conversation, my teenage daughter chimed in, “You must be middle-aged, Dad, because you were born in the Middle Ages, right?”
“Ha ha, very funny,” I replied. “You know all those colleges you’re looking at? When you graduate from high school next year, how’d you like to enroll instead at Wal-Mart University?”
“Just kidding, Dad,” she said, as she leaned over and kissed the top of my head. “You’re still young and vibrant and—oops, sorry, I didn’t mean to kiss your bald spot! Hee hee.”
That must be one of the signs of being middle-aged, when you have teenage children who enjoy making fun of your age.
But what exactly is middle age? Is it the mid-point of a person’s life? In other words, if you end up living to age 90, is middle-age when you were 45? Well, that’s not a good definition because we don’t know how long we’re going to live. If in the future people end up living to, say, age 130 (through the miracle of modern science and Miss Clairol), then middle age won’t occur until age 65. Or in my case, considering my “Krispy Kreme and coffee” diet plan and my “I’ll do anything to stay in shape except break a sweat” exercise program, there’s a good chance I already hit my personal middle age sometime back in my late 20s.
The dictionary defines middle age as: “the time of life between youth and old age: now usually the years from about 40 to about 65.”
This means not only my friend with the bunion, but all 77 million of my fellow baby boomers born between 1946 and 1964 are currently middle-aged. Now there’s a scary thought. Seventy-seven million self-centered Americans with bunions and bald spots and enlarged prostates who refuse to acknowledge that they are no longer part of the Youth Movement that rocked the 1960s and 70s.
I think middle age is not so much a specific chronological age, but more of a state of mind. Here’s a list of items that may indicate that you have the middle-aged state of mind.
You might be middle-aged if…
You think wearing sandals and socks at the beach is not such a bad idea after all.
You don’t need to get drunk to have a hangover in the morning. Just staying up too late at night makes you feel awful the next day.
You now consider playing bocce at a family picnic, with a beer in one hand during the entire game, a serious athletic activity.
Getting “stoned” refers more to your kidneys than to pot.
“Pot” refers more to your belly than to getting stoned.
You know more about the latest trends in the pharmaceutical industry than you do about the latest trends in the music industry.
You check the obituaries in the newspaper each morning. Most of the time you know someone on the list, and ALL of the time there is someone listed who was younger than you.
You actually pay attention when politicians debate the future of Social Security.
Your favorite Willie Nelson song is “On the Throne Again.”
And finally, you might be middle-aged if you actually enjoy sitting around the kitchen table drinking coffee and discussing the definition of middle age.
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