By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Harris Blackwood: Rounding the corner to the backside of 50 years old
Placeholder Image

Back in the days when I was spinning records on the radio, a singer-songwriter named John Conlee wrote and recorded a song called “Backside of 30.”

It was a lament about a man whose life had become undone after a divorce.

At the time, I was on the backside of my teens. Anybody north of 30 seemed old. People in their 50s seemed ancient.

I was driving down the road on a recent Friday night and John Conlee was singing on the Grand Ole Opry broadcast. I looked him up and found he is now on the backside of 60 and later this year will enter the front side of 70.

I don’t know if a soon-to-be septuagenarian can still sing about being in your 30s without it sounding like a history lesson.

This week, I am rounding the corner to the backside of 50. It doesn’t bother me too much. I often fill out online surveys about things such as restaurants and hotels. They now lump me in a category with people who are 70.

Let me stop right here and say there is nothing wrong with being 70. I just don’t want to get there too fast.

I’m glad I’m living now, instead of a century ago. At that time, I would have been about 10 years over the projected lifespan of a man in 1916. I have a great appreciation for every day spent on the green side of the grass.

Physically, I could do better. I have a few aches and pains that are a result of not taking care of myself.

Mentally, I feel as sharp as I did when John Conlee was on the backside of 30. The problem is I think I’m young until I see that older man looking back at me in the mirror.

I can remember songs and stories my mama told me as a boy. One of my favorites was the “Three Little Pigs.”

“Little pig, little pig, let me come in,” the big bad wolf said.

“Not by the hair of my chinny chin chin,” the pig said.

I remember wondering what a chinny chin chin was. Now, I shave gray whiskers off all three of them each morning.

When I look at those ahead of me, I take notice some don’t make it to the backside of 60. But then, some are on the backside of 80 and going wide open. The latter is the crowd I want to follow.

Some say 50 is the new 30. If that’s the case, I’m going full speed ahead into the backside of 50 with the resolve to live each day to the fullest and leave this world a little better than I found it.

Back in 1980, a woman named Rosie Ruiz had a fast time in the New York Marathon and later went on to win the Boston Marathon, or so she thought.

Turned out Rosie started the race, jumped on the subway and then got back into the race just in time to win. She cheated and they took away her winning medal.

I may not be out in front, but I don’t want to miss a single thing along the course.

I want to be there for the front side of 60 and beyond.

Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the Sunday Life page and on