A couple of days ago I celebrated what seems to be known as a “milestone” birthday. I’m not sure what that means but to me it means that I’m glad that I am still celebrating birthdays – but it also means that I’m at a number of years that I hate to say out loud.
The last time that I celebrated one of these “milestone” birthdays was 25 years ago, and I thought I was old then. Back then I said that I was only slightly offended by some of the messages sent to us “over the hill” folks via birthday cards.
One of my cards 25 years ago asked, “How many 50 year olds does it take to change a light bulb?” The answer: “None. They prefer it dark. Better for napping.” Another card said, “If people say you’re getting old, don’t argue or complain, ‘cause you don’t have to take that stuff…just hit them with your cane.”
A couple of cards advised me to “party ‘til it hurts” and then added that it will be a short party. Another of my cards made it very clear that I knew all there was to know about hula hoops, saddle shoes and bobby sox.
I said that if I wrote messages on cards for 50 year olds for a living I would be much kinder: “Roses are red, violets are blue. You may be fifty, but you’re still smart, and sexy too.”
It seems that birthday cards my friends and I exchange have gotten kinder over the years. Now that we’re getting older, the cards don’t contain as many insults. One of this year’s cards stretches out over two feet long; it contains only the traditional “Happy, Happy, Happy Birthday!” message. Other cards include greetings from an exuberant squirrel and a friendly looking bear.
Other thoughts about getting older:
“Later than you think, sooner than you expected.”
“The time of your life when you are thick and tired of it all.”
“When you feel on Saturday night the way you used to feel on Monday morning.”
“The time when you get sacks under the bags under your eyes.”
“When you know all the answers but nobody asks the questions.”
“When you sit in a rocking chair and can’t get it going.”
“When you feel like the night before and you haven’t been anywhere.”
“When the gleam in your eyes is from the sun hitting your bifocals.”
“When your back goes out more than you do.”
Mom’s birthday message
From Sept. 5, 1995:
I went to see my mother a couple of weeks ago. It was Aug. 21, and I almost always visit or call my mother on Aug. 21. I celebrate my birthday on that day and I discovered several years ago that my mother celebrates too; she enjoys reminding me each year of the important part she played in that event.
She always tells me how many years ago it was and that she remembers where she was and what she was doing on that day all those many years ago before my father rushed her off to the hospital.
She also tells me how old it makes her feel to have a son as old as I am. At my age, the comforting thing about that statement is that she has been saying the same thing for as long as I can remember, and that she is still able to say it.
“You were born on a Sunday…4 o’clock in the afternoon…up in St. Joseph’s…it was a hot day…it was a real hot summer.” And then she adds, “A lot hotter than this year…we don’t get hot weather like that anymore.”
I told her I thought it was pretty hot on Aug. 21 this year. “Nothing like that year,” she said.
Guess I’ll have to take her word for it.
“The usual suspects”
Even though I am celebrating a birthday with a significantly high number attached to it, among my close friends — most of them octogenarians — I am considered a youngster. I belong to a group of friends who have known each other at least 30 years, see each other often and have great times together.
We’re known to each other as “the usual suspects,” as in, when we’re going to do something together, “Call the usual suspects.”
English language mysteries
There is no egg in eggplant or ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine are in pineapple.
English muffins weren’t invented in England, or French fries in France.
Quicksand works slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.
Why do we ship by car and send cargo by ship? Have noses that run and feet that smell?
How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?
Don’t ask me.