August 10, 2008 in City

It’s not your grandpa’s aging

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Today I will tackle the subject of aging in America. That is, just as soon as I locate my reading spectacles.

Ah, that’s better.

Now, what was I saying?

Oh yes. Getting older no longer carries the stigma that it did when I was growing up in the ’60s.

We baby boomers didn’t trust anyone older than 30 back then.

And 40?

“Look at the old fossil, man.”

These days it’s much more cool to be old. Just turn on the television if you don’t believe me.

Every other commercial features slim-and-trim seniors who – aided by the pulse of a classic rock song – lustily extol the wonders of the latest fruity fiber-rich regularity drink or male enhancement pill.

The real world offers plenty of evidence, too.

Take the news item headlined “Two men arrested after handgun tussle” that appeared in Friday’s Northwest section of the newspaper.

The story is about a 73-year-old Athol man who “bit” his 75-year-old gun-toting neighbor during a scuffle that was apparently over the older man’s four-wheeler.

Besides avoiding Athol like the plague, this story sends an even bigger message: This is not the way septuagenarians used to behave.

The most activity my grandfather ever engaged in was after a glass of wine or two.

He would then drop his upper dentures to make them look like fangs. Then, holding his hands in front of his body like paws, he would perform a lurching, growling bit of choreography he called “The Bear Dance.”

After which he would collapse in his padded rocking chair and take a nap.

My grandfather wouldn’t have bit anyone in a million years. He would have been way too afraid of losing his false teeth.

Today’s oldsters have better dentistry and much more energy.

This weekend, for example, the USA Masters Track and Field Championships are being held at Spokane Falls Community College.

I realize the Olympics are being televised. But why waste your time on hard-bodied young athletes when you can go out and can watch real live 70- and 80-year-olds competing in the sweltering summer heat in such grueling events as the prune toss and the hop, skip and jitterbug?

Oh, please. I kid because I care.

Other than the understandable need for more ointment, these elders are very fine athletes. Most of them could kick my butt. And that’s just the 80-year-olds.

And there is absolutely no truth to the ugly rumor that the USA Masters starter gun has been replaced by The Clapper.

Getting older hasn’t slowed me down any.

I may be bald and paunchy, but I can still work the TV remote like a nimble teenager.

Some things do trouble me about getting on.

One is that Gene Simmons of Kiss rock band fame will be a featured speaker at next month’s national AARP convention.

I don’t care how famous Simmons is. I want to go take a shower every time I see him dangle his creepy eel-long tongue out of his mouth.

Another aging drawback made the front page this week.

A national study revealed that the older you get the less you drink. And by the time you hit 80, you’re likely to not drink at all.

How sad.

It’s no wonder you don’t see the Bear Dance anymore.

Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman- Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or dougc@spokesman.com.


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