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  • Writer's pictureJim Pfiffer

Southern Tier Comedy Shop

Happy Birthday? Sort of. I’m old, but at least I’m young at heart



IllustratED by Filomena Jack


Yesterday was my birthday.


It marked the completion of my 69th time traveling around the sun. Those trips made me realize that birthday celebrations lose their importance as we age.


It’s funny how our perspective on birthdays and aging changes as we get older.


By middle age, I stopped having birthday parties and getting gifts.


When I was a boy, B-day parties were a big deal. I invited all my male buddies, cuz girls were still icky, and we played games, ate cake and ice cream, and I eagerly ripped open my gifts, except for the underwear my grandparents always gave me.


By the time I was in junior high, girls attended my parties and were nearly as important as my gifts, although I was embarrassed to open the tighty whities from grandma and grandpa.


When I was in my 20s, my friends celebrated my birthdays by taking me out and getting me ridiculously intoxicated until I was slobbering, stumbling, sick, dehydrated and in need of a liver transplant. Thanks, fellas.


By the time I hit my 40s, I celebrated by going out for a quiet dinner that ended with a cupcake with a candle and the waitstaff gathering around my table and embarrassing me by half-heartedly singing “Happy Birthday.”


Now, as an old fogy, there are no parties or cakes, and I buy my own BVDs.

Illustrated by Filomena Jack.


There are milestone birthdays, of course, turning 18, 21 and 30. In our society, 30 represents the end of our youth and the beginning of getting old. As a long-haired, cutoff jeans-wearing rebellious youth, I grew up believing you “never trust anyone over 30.”


Our time perspective changes as we age.


When we were young, the week before Christmas seemed like months.


When we got older, that week seemed like hours, as in, “Oh shit, I haven’t finished my Christmas shopping.”


That perspective is backward. Time should pass quickly when we are young and impatient and slow down when we are old and running out of time.


When I was a child, I couldn’t wait to get older. When asked how old I was, I didn’t simply reply, “I’m five years old.” No, I held up five fingers, as a visual, and proudly stated that “I’m five and a half,” adding the extra months to show how close I was to becoming a “big boy.” If I had had half a finger, I would have added it to the show-and-tell.


If I had half a brain, I would have known that life is too short, aging is too fast, and I shouldn’t be rushing it.


When we’re old, we’re not proud of our age and we don’t like to publicize it. We avoid talking about it. We hide it, lie about it or pretend to be forever 29.


Getting old is difficult enough, but what’s worse is what it does to our cultural beliefs.


My parents’ generation made fun of my long hair, bell bottoms and loud rock ’n' roll.


When I hit middle age, I made fun of the younger generation’s neon-colored hair and baggy, low-riding and underpants-revealing jeans.


“What is wrong with kids these days?” “And how the hell can they listen to that rap crap they call music?”


Then it hit me. I’ve turned into my parents.


Getting old is undesirable and something to fear.


That’s why we Baby Boomers refuse to accept old age. We move the sliding aging scale with axioms like “Life really begins at 40,” “Fifty is the new 30,” “You’re only as old as you feel” and “I can’t remember where I parked my car.”


Meanwhile, young adults think that anyone over 50 is ready for a walker, Depends and a nursing home.


Part of the perception problem is that our life expectancy is increasing. In 1965 our life expectancy was around 70. Today it’s 80.


What’s an old man like me to do? I stay young by acting like a kid. Immaturity is a great defense against aging. It lets me do things like reminding myself that 69-years-old is only 20-and-a-half in Celsius.


Hey, if I haven’t grown up by now, it’s useless to try.


Until destiny blows out all my candles, I’m going to live by the motto, “The more birthdays you have, the longer you live.”


P.S. If any of you want to buy me a belated birthday gift, I wear medium size Jockeys, preferably white.


Contacts:


Get more Jim Pfiffer humor on his Facebook page, his blog, FullOfWit, and his podcast The Viewsroom on Zoom with Pfif & AWAC.


To contact and learn more about Filomena Jack and to see her artwork go to www.FilomenaJackStudio.com.

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