I don't know how this can possibly be happening. People who turn sixty are old farts, ready for the rocking chair, swilling Ensure and paying attention to Fred Thompson's sorry spiel in those reverse mortgage commercials. I can't be sixty years-old! Shit, I don't even know what I want to be when I grow up!
There's been some sort of mistake. It was only a couple of years ago I was a "young man with potential." Sixty isn't "young". Sixty's like a twelve year-old dog... you don't keep tossing that tennis ball into the lake if your dog is twelve or thirteen years-old, unless you're trying to get rid of an animal that's taking too many trips to the vet. And lately I feel like I'm diving in after that tennis ball every time I turn around...
For the past few months I've been doing chauffeur duty for my lovely (young and dangerous) wife's mom, because the nature of her serious medical condition precludes Miss Daisy from doing her own driving. When you sit in an infusion room for hours every week, you get to know the usual suspects who often show up for their treatments at the same times. A lot of those people are my age. Many of them are much younger. I know that should make me feel grateful for my health, but it doesn't always work that way. Often I feel like I've just been lucky to get this far along in life without going through anything like the ordeals those good people are facing. Another thing about spending so much time in that hospital is the sense of embarrassment I get when I look around and see hundreds and hundreds of people fighting for their lives, when my biggest complaint is having to deal with another birthday. Some of those folks would give anything for another birthday... and here I sit bitching about mine.
I have no idea why this one seems more daunting than the others. I know, it's just a number. You're only as old as you smell, right? But something's different about "Happy Sixtieth!", and everyone knows it. Sixty is that demarcation line in the chronological chain of events... the one right before you start getting Social Security checks in the mail, along with those AARP promotions. Sixty is the birthday with the black balloons. Sixty candles on a cake melts the icing and sets off fire detectors. Sixty is way too old to be considered "funny", but not old enough to be deserving of "Wow! You're 90? You don't look a day over 60!"
I don't want to look a day over 60. And tomorrow when it's official, I'm going to do my best to shrug it off as if I don't really mind officially being eight years away from the age of my own father at his death.
Picasso once said, "One starts to get young at the age of sixty, and then it's too late."
I'm in denial about this one. Stop the world, I want to get off. Someone slow this orb down, because the years are going by like slats on a picket fence. I can remember when it took FOREVER to get from Christmas to my birthday. Everything's at hyperdrive, going by in a blur, and no one else seems to notice how fast it's happening.
There's that bucket list of things I wanted to do, places I wanted to visit... and when I bring it up, others tell me "you still have time to do all of those things!" But they don't believe that shit any more than I do. I don't think the Great American Novel is in the cards, any more than that trip to Barbados or Tahiti. I'm reaching that point in life where I'm happy if I can remember where I've left my damn glasses and car keys.
So do me a favor. Don't bring this birth anniversary up, if you can help it. Follow my lead and pretend it's not happening.
I can't possibly be sixty years-old. I had plans.