Raise your hand if you remember Polaroid cameras. Phone booths? Busy signals? VHS, boom boxes and cassette mix tapes?
If you remember these, welcome. If you don’t, get the hell out of here. You people make us feel sick. More accurately, you make us feel old.
For most people, there’s that one horrible event. Maybe it’s when you realize that hottie you’ve been dating was not alive when the space shuttle exploded, but you were off at a bar drinking when it happened.
Maybe it’s that first AARP offer you get in the mail. Or the doctor telling you that your latest ache is the result of some affliction with “itis” at the end of it.
For myself and a couple of guys like me, it was professional sports.
“I realized that I was getting older when I noticed that the Red Sox players were younger than I am, “ says 52-year-old Walter Cary.
“I watched college football,” mourns Danny Werks, “and realized I was older than everyone on the field.”
I hear you, brothers in decrepitude.
That one horrible event. All it takes is a single utterance from some puke who doesn’t remember a time when new cars came with cigarette lighters. And it doesn’t matter how old you really are. You can get to feeling ancient at 89 or 19.
You can try to console yourself with those new chestnuts: Eighty is the new 60. Fifty is the new 30. Sciatica is no different than a pain caused by shooting hoops.
It’s only a number, right? Age is a state of mind.
Apparently not. Dozens responded to our query asking for that defining moment. Responses are still coming. Interestingly, three of you took the time to send a response the old, old, old-fashioned way: through snail mail. This includes a 27-year-old who decorated the envelope with jack-o'-lanterns, black cats and skulls, and then stuffed cartoons inside with his responses scribbled on the back.
Number 16 on his list: “No one has stamps or sends letters but me.”
Guess again, brother.
Some of you sent in a whole bunch of anecdotes, some sent just one. Most of you passed along your current age, but only after we begged you. Many reported that it was the AARP notices that did it.
When asked about their policies on sending out information packets to the not-yet-50, the AARP invited me to become a member, instead.
"I hope this information is helpful and look forward to welcoming you as a valued member of AARP," said the presumably esteemed Dale, of member services.
But forget them. Here's a sampling of the things that make the rest of you feel old. Something to read while you sit waiting for the doctor to come give you a prostate exam.
You’re due for one, you know. A person of your age cannot be too careful.
Larry Levesque, 74
“I knew I was getting old when someone complimented me on my alligator shoes. And I was barefoot at the time.”
Mandy Malone, 33
"I knew I was old when a patron's daughter gave me a blank stare when I was discussing the '80s film 'Say Anything' with her mother."
Dirk Langeveld, 27
“Realizing that classic rock radio stations are creeping closer and closer to the '90s. Getting mistaken for a college student instead of a high school student.”
Dorothy Gilchrest, 57
“You know you're getting old when your magazine subscriptions segue from Cosmopolitan and People to AARP and Arthritis Today, and you are just as delighted to receive them.”
Judy Lane, 72
“My husband and I were in a restaurant, waiting for family and friends we were meeting there. The hostess asked to help us, and we explained that we were waiting for others, and stepped back out of the way. This young lady stepped up, and the hostess asked if she could help her. She replied, ‘This elderly couple were here before us.’ I looked back to see who she was talking about, and yes, you guessed it, it was us! I know we are getting older, but I still don't feel 'elderly.'”
Larry Pelletier, 63
“I knew I was getting old when my 11-year-old grandson asked one day, ‘Grandpa, when you die, can I have all of your tools in your workshop?’ I was completely floored, but it was then that I realized I may be older than I felt. I walk every day and always thought I was in pretty good shape. Maybe he knows something I don't.”
Lindsay Tice, 34
“You know you’re old when you start complaining about young people.”
Kathleen Weeks, 59
“Teaching music to kindergarteners in Harrison last year. I drag out a 33 1/3 album and slap it on the stereo. One darling elbows another: ‘Whoa! Did you see the size of that CD?’
“My granddaughter sitting on my lap is caressing my face. She says sweetly, ‘Grambo, you must have been so pretty a long time ago 'cause you're cute now.’
“Reading to little ones in kindergarten. . . . One little fellow snuggles up to my neck and takes a big sniff. . . . He says, ‘Wow you smell just like my Grammie.’ Thinking my herb cucumber anti-wrinkle face cream was doing the trick, I relax, and then he says, 'You smell just like bacon!’”
Wendy Maxim, 41
“My daughter Sarah was in 2nd or 3rd grade (now in 6th grade) and was learning about Thanksgiving and Pilgrims, etc. I was helping her color some pictures and do some ‘homework.’ Well, she looked at me very seriously and said ‘Mum, what was it like when you were a Pilgrim?’ Well, needless to say, I got quite the chuckle out of it, but did realize that I was indeed old in my daughter's eyes. Around the holidays we are always sure to have a laugh over that one, and I am always sure to remember that I am young at heart.”
Misty Tabor, 58
“When I had a land line in my home I always kept a plug-in phone in the house. If the power went out I would still have a phone because my portables needed electricity. I had an old black rotary phone. My granddaughter, who was at the time about around 8, came to visit. She looked at my phone, put her fingers in the holes and asked me where the buttons were. That is when I knew I was getting old.”
Alita Prada, 76 (mid-40s when she discovered she was old)
“I knew I was getting old several years ago when Lauren Bacall stayed at our motel one weekend. For her privacy we told no one about it, but after she left I excitedly told one of our high school employees that Lauren Bacall had stayed with us. She replied, ‘Lauren Bacall, who's he?’ Sigh . . ."
Barbara Doherty, 76
“I knew when I was getting old when each and every blasted time I checked out of a department store or any type of check-out the cashier called me 'DEARIE.' Ticked me off so much I wanted to floor her. So clerks everywhere, just because we have gray hair, keep your ‘dearies’ to yourself. You're going to be old one day too.”
Heather McCarthy (equivocated mightily when asked for her age)
“I knew I was old when I replaced the fruit bowl on the lazy susan on the bar with a decorative wooden basket FULL OF PILLS! I hide it in the cupboard when company comes.
“When I started noticing the food on my plate/fork was fuzzy and I had to start wearing my reading glasses to eat.”
Cal Brown, 46 when the truth dawned
“I realized, but did not know I was getting old until the age of 46. I had been told on several occasions that I looked younger than my age. I stopped at a McDonald’s one morning, went inside to pick up a coffee, and the teeny bopper behind the counter asked, ‘Is that with a senior discount?’ I was kind and said, ‘No, I pay the full price.’ That wasn’t what was on my mind, but what was would have ruined her day as well as mine."
Ursula Albert, 55
“I knew I was getting ‘old’ when it took me 15 minutes to thread a needle (under a bright lamp, no less) because I couldn't see well enough — and as I was struggling with it, I remembered my Mom asking ME to thread a needle for her for the same reason. Grrrrr.”
Angela Smith, 59
“Most days I don't think I am old. However, around five or six years ago, while working in a local high school library, a student needed something typed, and my computer was down. So I told him he could just use my typewriter in the back room to type his paper. This student looked at me and said, ‘What is a typewriter?’ So not only did I show him what a typewriter was, I got a record player and 33 1/3 vinyl record out and played it for him. In the 20 short years I worked in the library, we went from carbon paper to a geek stick.”
Susan Fortier, 54 (37 when she learned she was old)
“Out shopping with my daughter for a new mattress, I was still thinking of myself as a ‘young, hip mom.’ Reality soon set in when she asked me ‘Mom, what did people sleep on when you were little?’ That's when I knew I was old!"
Kim Money, "closer to 30 than 20"
"When my niece and nephew were 3 years old and 2 years old they got in an argument over the ‘play’ telephones. One was an old cordless with no battery and the other was a Playskool brand rotary phone that had a string and wheels so you could pull it behind you. I asked them why they were fighting when there were two phones and two of them. My niece picks up the Playskool phone by the spiral cord that runs from the phone base to the receiver and says, ‘Auntie, REAL phones don't have this thing attached!’”
Miles Tobey, 60
"You know you are getting old when you go to your mail box and the only two pieces of mail you have is one from AARP and the other one is from the scooter store. It happened to me yesterday.”
Sydney Dixon-Thorne, 50
"When the store clerk asked, 'Can I help you, ma'am?'"
John Clement, 53
"People don't believe you when you tell them there were only three channels on TV when you were a kid. Plus you had to get off the couch to change the channel. Wow, I had it rough."
Laura Baker, 52
“I knew I was to old when I purchased some sneakers for my granddaughter at Super Shoes and when I paid with a check . . . the very young clerk was confused and did not know how to complete the transaction. She laughed and said she didn't know how to do a check. She gets all her cash from a debit card.”
Bob Williams, 72 going on 39
“I knew I was old as dirt when: My students told me they wanted a young faculty adviser for their fraternity (I was 29).
“The U.S. Marines recruiting literature stopped and the AARP recruiting literature began.
“Every mountain I climbed again was steeper and the trail longer than when I was young.
“All my best tennis shots were terrific in my mind, but not on the court.
“I much preferred half-court to full-court basketball.
“At a university, the students, the faculty, the staff and even the trustees were almost all younger than I was.
“I finally understood why my mother kept all her pills in a divided plastic container with compartments labeled M, T, W, Th, F, Sa and that other day.
“I couldn’t find my car keys because I threw them out at the dump.
“I forgot the name of the disease that starts with an A.
“I forgot why I was writing a letter to the Sun Journal.”
Augustine Ponte, 86
“I felt old when I became a grandmother. When I fell asleep on a good book. When I look at the obituaries more often in the Lewiston Sun Journal. When I look in the mirror and think ‘Who’s that?’”
Mary Haynes Bussell, 80
“I knew I was getting old when I remember Red's Diner, the Box Shop, Barkerville School, Sawyer Ice Cream Stand and Carter Feed across from Marden's. (And) when Marden’s area was a golf course where the neighborhood kids would slide and ski in the winter.”
“I knew I was getting old when my kid sister turned 64!”
Mary E. Anderson, 76
“I used to talk lovingly of ‘my little old friends.’ Then one day I looked in the mirror.”
Lewis L. Incze, who sent snail mail with 30 signs of aging. Among them:
“When young women open the door for you.
“People stand up and yield their seat to you.
“A stranger assists you in putting on your coat.
“Sitting in the rider’s seat in a car at 25 mph makes you dizzy.
“The sight of bikini-clad beauties at the beach does not give you tachycardia.
“Your favorite meal can be swallowed without chewing.”
“When a hangover lasted two days.”
Butch Lenberg, 46
“When my kids came to me and asked, ‘What’s a record player?’”
Janet Beaucage Halada
“When the little cousins I babysat for turned 50 years old!”
Steve Yenco, 47
“I knew I was getting old when a few years ago someone said, ‘You remember when they first landed on the moon?’ Think I was about 6 at the time.”
Dana Fields, 39
“I knew I was old when I realized Mark LaFlamme is a funny, funny man.”