I generally try to adhere to the philosophy of “Growing old is mandatory, growing up is optional” as I make my way through the funhouse of life. I refuse to dwell on my actual age, or the oh so slow degradation of what my body parts will or won’t do, or what
they’ll still do but now it hurts like a sonofabitch later on. I can play for hours on end with a real Slinky, or pass an afternoon with a set of buckyballs. I have a custom engraved military grade fidget spinner I own a working set of Rock ‘em Sock ‘em Robots. And I’d much rather spend a day playing pinball than learning the intricacies of “the cloud” (which by the way is how I make my living). So I’m occasionally blindsided by current events and progress. For example, I had no idea until recently that scientists can grow you a new bladder in the lab, using materials from pigs. Or that they could make new blood vessels using cotton candy. That kind of stuff is interesting, but tends to roll off into the seemingly humongous store of useless information I carry around. But every once in a while a milepost event happens that makes me sit up and realize “shit! I really am getting old”.
It wasn’t when my sons turned 21, nor when I realized that if it ever came down to it they could kick my ass if they wanted to. It wasn’t when I received my AARP card. It wasn’t when my wife and I celebrated our 30th anniversary. It wasn’t when my first orthopedist, only a little older than I, suddenly died. You’d think the fact that I HAVE (or had) an orthopedist would be a clue. It wasn’t even the day I realized that I was setting my alarm clock 15 minutes earlier than I used to, basically because I do have an orthopedist and it takes a while to get everything working right in the morning. Nope, it was the death of the car cassette deck that did it
An article in the New York Times (from 2011) noted the passing of the factory installed car cassette deck. You are no longer able to buy, anywhere, from any dealer, a new car with a cassette deck in it. I didn’t know you still could, but now you can’t anyway so I didn’t really miss anything there huh? BUT….
Was it that long ago that I took a job just so I could install one in my car?
The car cost 200 bucks, the cassette deck?
$300, but it was replacing an 8 track and worth every penny.
How many copies of “Born to Run” did I wear out because Bruce is the fucking Boss god damn it and I’ll play it every day if I want to!
How many mix tapes did I make to try and persuade the girl of the moment to help me with the clasps on her bra, or at least let me touch it…please?
A lot of people I know have never seen a car cassette deck, having grown up with CD players, mp3 players, and satellite radio. I haven’t seen one in over 15 years. Haven’t seen a cassette either, except at flea markets 5 for a dollar. As I read that Times article my knees creaked just a little bit more, my vision blurred just a little bit more, and I had to turn the volume on the mp3 player up just a little bit more. I thought about picking up some “Just for Men Gel” for my increasingly white beard and moustache. And I wondered if it might be getting time to have “that” conversation with my doctor, the one about the little blue pill. Though apparently that’s really my wife’s call.
Thankfully, before I called to make the appointment I realized that yeah, I used to have a cassette deck in my car, and that was a long time ago and yeah I’m getting old. But I still have my slinky, was reading that Times article on a tablet, was listening to The Gaslight Anthem, don’t own any neckties or slippers, and just the other day I knocked my son’s block off in Rock em Sock em Robots. Maybe they can take me, but they’ve got to sleep sometime (and sometimes they still sleep in my house.) If AARP wants to help me buy stuff cheaper and cut ahead in lines who am I to argue. I have a voice controlled mp3 player in my car, the stereo is worth twice what the car is, and when I feel really good I can still fire up my bike and piss off my neighbors rumbling down the road.
Now if you’ll please excuse me, I dropped my Buckyballs and I’ve got a Roadrunner cartoon marathon on tap for the evening.