We were an hour into our conversation when I realized it.
It was the same group of friends I’ve been conversing with for over 25 years – since high school, in fact.
“I went in for this sleep study the other day ...” was how it began. For the next 60 minutes, my friend regaled us with stories of his restful nights and weight loss since he was diagnosed with, and treated for, sleep apnea. Apparently, you can lose weight just by sleeping more deeply, which, although I’m no doctor, seems like a healthier alternative than the “Smoke Yourself Thin” diet I was considering.
I was in the middle of quizzing him about how many hours of sleep he was now getting when it hit me like a kidney stone attack – we are now officially old.
Of course, being at my friend’s 45th birthday party should have given me an indication that we were no longer young whippersnappers, but I were never that goodish at math, or English, for that matter.
I shared my epiphany with the Geritol League.
“You know, we’re sitting around here talking about sleeping,” I stated loudly, interrupting the cushy vs. firm pillows debate. “What has happened to us? Not that long ago, we would be sitting around talking about women or the latest music or movies or sharing crazy stories. And at least two of us would be drunk. Are we really that old?”
My question/declaration/question was met with stunned silence, as the five middle-aged men just stared blankly at me.
Finally, someone spoke up.
“Yes, Len, we are old,” he said. “’Not that long ago’ to you was 25 years ago to a calendar.”
I replied with the witty “oh,” and the conversation turned to the best way to get rid of nose hair.
As I myself turn the corner on middle age, I have started noticing the kinds of things that indeed make me old.
Among them are:
• I have chosen a fashion ensemble and I’m sticking to it, no matter what.
My uniform is a button-down shirt and khakis. During the summer months, golf shirt and khaki shorts. Like my father’s generation, whose members still cling to the Member’s Only jacket, I’m sticking with this no matter how garish it looks in 20 years, or five years ago.
• I am actually in bed most nights before 10 p.m.
When we received a phone call the other night at 10:30 p.m., I actually awoke and caught myself saying, “What kind of people are up at this hour?” And I meant it.
• I had a discussion with someone about lawn mowers recently.
And I almost knew what I was talking about.
• I have not lost any hair from my body in the last 20 years.
It has merely moved from the top of my head to my nose, ears, back and arms. It’s a transfer I did not approve.
• What people will think of me is no longer a concern.
Usually, that sign of seniority kicks in during the sixth decade of life. I’ve unconsciously adopted it now.
• I’m very concerned with weather, and keep up with it hourly.
• I know all the lyrics to music in elevators.
• I saw a lunchbox I had in the fourth grade recently — in a museum.
• My daughter hears someone mention a “dime store” and she asks, “What’s a dime store?”
• And, most currently, I know I’m officially old when I write a column about how I’m officially old.
I think that officially makes it official.
I think I’ll take a nap now and lose some weight.
Len Robbins is editor and publisher of The Clinch County News in Homerville. His column appears weekly.