Let me start off with apologies to Jimmy Buffet for mucking with his song title. I love “A Pirate Looks at 40” and if I didn’t know better, I’d swear he wrote that damn song about me. I’ve always been drawn to the ocean, I’ve made some money, and I’ve pissed it away pretty damn fast. Bottom line was, I never really meant to last. Never meant to last.
Now I’m on the threshold of turning 50. Forget 40 man, I’m flying into my 50’s so fast I need goggles to keep my eyes from tearing up. Victor Hugo once said that “Forty is the old age of youth; fifty the youth of old age.” I’m not sure if I like that or not. On one hand it points to the beginning of a new phase in ones life with certain benefits, AARP membership for one thing. On the other hand it points to… well hell, AARP membership. AARP man. My mom belongs to AARP and she’s old! Cripes. No offense Mom. (coughs)
Thing is, when I was in my 20’s and on the sub, we’d sit around behind the maneuvering room and talk about doing 30 years. We’d laugh and say, “Hell, we’ll all be dead by 40 man, why waste it on the Navy?” We’d laugh, but deep down I believed it. Hell, between the sub life itself, smoking, drinking, carousing, and riding scoots faster than a sane person should, I figured hitting 30 was a crap shoot, let alone 40.
Now I’m looking at 50. 50!!! My dad was frickin’ ancient when he was 50. I remember going to see him on leave once. He’d putter around his apartment playing with old coffee makers, go to flea markets, and if we went anywhere, he had to be back home in time to watch Jeopardy. Old man, OLD.
Deep down I know that age and youth are not mutually exclusive. I’ve seen my share of folks in their 70’s that treat life like they were 30, and I admire that. Frank lloyd Wright said, “Youth is a quality, not a matter of circumstances” Words to live by, if you are in your 40’s. Bastard. I know age is a perception in many ways, like I wrote about in Aged to Perception. I look at myself in the mirror and at times I still see the face of that 20-something staring back at me. I look at photos of me, however, and I see Jerry Garcia. The old Garcia. What the hell is up with that? I’m not sure how others see me, all I know is that I get called ‘sir’ a hell of a lot more than any ex-enlisted sailor/gray beard biker should.
As you can see, I’m still coming to terms with why this milestone is bothering me so much. I’m sure I’ll write more about it as the big day approaches, so consider yourself warned. For now though, I need to stop writing about this. Jeopardy is on and I never miss it.