Turf & Rec

Growing older today vs. yesterday

March 12, 2012  By Ian Robinson

As your personal odometer keeps spinning, the tiny humiliations associated with age just keep on a coming.

“Doctor, what’s this thing on my neck?”

“That weird-looking thing? Nothing to worry about.”

“What is it?”

“It’s…there’s a name for it, but it’s just a thing.”

“What kind of thing?”

“Um…it’s extra skin.”

“Why am I growing a thing made out of extra skin?”

“As you get older, your DNA stops replicating accurately. Sometimes you grow these little…things. Tags? Yeah. Skin tags.”

Really? That’s what it’s come to? I’m in the thing-growing stage of life?

Am I going to wake up one morning with an extra finger or something?

I can just imagine THAT conversation with my physician.

“Hey, doc. I grew another thing.”

“On your neck?”

“No. On my hand. It’s an entire, brand-new finger.”

“Oh. Weird. Well on the plus side, you’ll be able to count to 11 now.”

Just once, I’d like to see her panic but I’m afraid she’s so calm that if confronted with an apocalyptic event, she’d say, “Are those zombies? Goodness. Well, on the plus side, I don’t have to worry about that pile of paperwork on my desk. Now where are my running shoes? I’ve got a feeling I’m going to be doing a great deal of running.”

Don’t even get me started on humiliating hair growth.

“Honey, what’s that on your knuckles?”

“Shut up!”

So much for growing gracefully into a dignified middle age.

However, it could be worse.

I could be young again.

I can’t imagine being young today. Texting, sexting, World of Warcraft. Phooey.

It was a great time to be young when I grew up.

For one thing, you could always tell the difference between adults and young people.

Last week, I saw a woman who was 70 if she was a day wearing a tube top and short shorts in the Walmart. That stuff wouldn’t have happened back in the day. Back when I was young, 70-year-old women were home baking cookies, not putting their cookies on full display in department stores.

Adults wore ties. Even truck drivers would come home from work and if they were taking their wife out to dinner…wham! On went a tie. And a tie clip. And a blazer. And they’d say stuff like, “Hold on, honey. I just need a minute to shine my shoes.”

Remember dads shining their shoes?

That’s serious grown-up stuff.

Another thing? Kids were free to do pretty much whatever they wanted.


For hours on end.

A normal upbringing in 1970 would translate into a charge of for-real, going-to-court child neglect today.

Maybe it’s because families were bigger in those days. Not uncommon to see families with four or five kids, so maybe when you’ve got that many, most of them accidents given the hit-or-miss methods of birth control of the day, you don’t really mind losing one or two.

Whatever the reason, compared to young people of 2012, we ran wild.

Today, your kid wants a fort to play in, you apply to the city for the correct zoning permit. Then when you get your permit six months later, you spend three grand on a prefabricated, child-safe fort and then hire a couple of guys who speak English as a second language and hang around out in front of Home Depot looking for pick-up work to build it.
My day? You’d see a herd of 10-year-olds running down the street carrying saws and hammers, heading for the nearest piece of bushland to build their own fort.

Sometimes a dad would run out of his house to yell, “Hold up there! Where you kids going?”

“To build a tree fort!”

“Well, wait a second. You’re going to need an axe. I’ve got one in the shed.”

When was the last time you said to a 10-year-old boy: “Hey, kid, here’s a gigantic, razor-sharp implement to play with. Careful, though. You could cut off a leg with it.”

Try that now and even kids would look at you like you were nuts.

Grownups would call the cops.

The final great thing about not being young?

During my dating days, no one had ever heard the word: “Manscaping.”

In fact, the prevailing ethic was precisely the reverse of manscaping.

Guys wore luxuriant mustaches and they weren’t ironic statements on the fashion of the past.

They were just plain cool.

Remember Tom Selleck as Magnum P.I.? Gigantic ’stache and a shirt unbuttoned three times displaying more fur on his chest than the average grizzly bear?

Don’t know if you’ve been to a gym or taken an old-fashioned steam lately, but if you’re of a certain age, you walk in, you could be forgiven for thinking you’re the only guy who has hit puberty, if you know what I mean.

It’s like being surrounded by really tall 10-year-old boys and, if you ask them why they’re running around as hairless as newborn hamsters, they all have the same answer: Women want it that way.

Frankly, I’d rather be older and trying to figure out what the hell to do with that thing on my neck.

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