A century is a long time.
But, a half-century isn't all that long, is it? A half-century is a pretty short amount of time when you really stop to consider it. Fifty years---that's like nothing, right? Fifty years is just a tiny little blip.
Fifty years is like lightning in a bottle!
I keep trying to convince myself of this, but when you really sit down and think about it, fifty years is a long time. (And yes, I have to sit down to think about it, because I'm too tired to keep standing for very long.)
This weekend I am going to "celebrate" my fiftieth birthday. A half-century of Slow Joe.
A lot has changed in the fifty years that I've been alive. No one had ever heard of Star Wars when I was born, and no one had ever seen Star Trek, either. (Mr. Spock first appeared on earth a little more than two months after I did.) Man hadn't been to the moon, Richard Nixon hadn't been President of the United States, and the Big Mac hadn't yet been introduced to a waiting, hungry America.
I constantly find myself referring to people that a lot of folks I deal with now have never even heard of, people like Bob Hope, Johnny Carson, Walter Cronkite, and Captain Kangaroo. Playing basketball in the morning, when the score is tied at 20-20, I'll find myself jokingly saying, "20/20, starring Hugh Downs and Barbara Walters." I get nothing but blank stares. (Come on, guys! Hugh Downs! That's funny-ish. Maybe John Stossel?) Heck, even when I refer to myself as "Churchball Ostertag" I fail to realize that most of the guys I play ball with aren't old enough to remember Greg Ostertag in his heyday. I was in my thirties when Greg Ostertag was in his heyday. (Yes, Greg Ostertag did have a heyday.)
I don't feel old (except when I'm walking down a flight of stairs.) Fifty isn't old. 50 is the new 35. (I'm not even sure what that means, but it sounds good.)
I don't think I'm going to have a big celebration for my 50th birthday. A dear friend of mine recently turned fifty on a beach in Hawaii. She was literally Hawaii Five-0! And while that sounds like a good idea, it costs more money than I'm will to spend to get from Utah to Hawaii, so I'll have to settle for Utah Five-0, which doesn't sound nearly as fun. (And yes, when I think of Hawaii Five-0, I think of Jack Lord, not, um, whatever the name of the guy is who is playing McGarrett on the current remake.)
Fifty is big, but I'm okay with it. The funny thing is, The Wife is having more trouble with me turning fifty than I am. As I've explained before, there is a pretty big age difference between The Wife and I, and she's usually fine with it. But, she says being in my fifties just makes me sound much older than being in my forties.
She has a solution for this problem. Instead of turning fifty, I'm going to be turning forty-ten. And she's actually halfway serious about this. Forty-ten! It does seem to be the natural progression from forty-nine, and it doesn't actually sound too bad. I'm going along with the whole "forty-ten" thing for a couple of reasons: 1) I love my wife; and B) I'm looking forward to next year when I can say I'm "forty-leven." (Forty-leven sounds like a zany, made-up number, and I look forward to saying it as often as I can. It's much more fun than 51.)
So, I think I'm going to embrace this. I'm going to celebrate my forty-tenth birthday! I'm going to spend one more full decade in my forties, from forty-ten until forty-nineteen. A half-century is nothing! I'm still young, and no one can convince me otherwise!
Or so I thought.
I had just about finished writing this post when I went out and checked the mailbox. On the outside of the envelope was a little message saying, "Happy birthday, Joseph!" And inside the envelope? My very first AARP card!
Oh my gosh! The AARP? You're officially old when the AARP starts sending you stuff in the mail! I'm not AARP age yet, am I? I don't feel old enough for the AARP. I'm not old enough for the AARP!!!
I think I'll have to send the AARP a letter. I'll write them and let them know I'm not old enough for the AARP.
After all, I'm only forty-ten!