After celebrating a milestone birthday this past Monday, an unexpected present arrived from Allan and Jennifer Johnson, brother and sister-in-law from Bakersfield, California.
It was having a parrot on my shoulder at the beach with a shovel in my hand looking at a chest. It was like being dealt an ace and a queen with black chips on the table. The UPS guy couldn’t have made me any happier if he’d asked: “How much weight have you lost?”
Two high school yearbooks (1972 and 1973), supposedly doing a Luca Brasi, the casualties of a flooded barn.
Allan, that rascal, found them. There was no reward, but I would have gladly forked over one.
Pages of photos, witty remarks, pledges of forever brought chuckles.
One problem: This 65-year-old didn’t remember a lot of these folks, even after looking up those horrid yearbook photos. Hard to believe our parents paid some shyster for those mostly retched snapshots.
It’s a certainty someone with a Nikon and a backdrop had their palms greased.
A Medicare card in the mail was as good as getting slobber-knocked in the melon with a block of granite.
When finally turning 16, inevitably a birthday conversation-starter was: “Now that you can drive, do you feel older?” I still have a curfew and I have to perform menial tasks involving transportation.
On hitting 18: “Do you feel older now that you can vote?” I also have to register for the draft and those goofs in office might want to rev up the draft and my 2.2 GPA won’t keep me out of boot camp. Or a place like Vietnam in case politicians were hell-bent on getting Uncle Sam’s butt kicked one more time.
I cannot think of a time that made me more disappointed in our country, present company excluded. Toppling statues and car barbecues is the worst.
Upon turning 21 on a Friday, the query: “So are you going to go have a drink?” It’s Friday isn’t it? Just like most of them since I turned 18.
Birthdays become mundane. But now, there are some fantastic benefits. And not just those restaurant discounts, providing you pony-up for the early bird discount at 3:30 p.m. No wait, that’s in Florida.
-There will be no quibbling about qualifying for the senior discount. If I forget any ID, I’ll display my war wounds, souvenirs from taking a spill or two.
-No funny looks or pitiful head shakes if I say something off-the-wall. Folks younger than 64 will understand.
-There will be no more calling someone an old fart. Unless I’m looking in the mirror.
-I guess it’s time to drop the green flag and get going with describing infrequent bowel movements and 10 minutes of standing at a urinal.
-Slow driving now is as much fun as trying to set an interstate speed record was back then. I’ve earned the right to give a honking youngster a dismissive wave.
-I find myself saying “Listen here Sonny (or Young Lady)” to anyone in their mid 50s or younger.
-Listening to oldies is Led Zeppelin, Creedence, or Hendrix.
Bring on the questions we old-timers can handle with ease:
-Did rasslin’ used to be real? Sure, not like those pretty boys out there today.
-Ever see a curveball better than Koufax’s? Nope.
-Did you ever meet the real Santa Claus? Sure. It was when me and the Easter Bunny were drinking a pitcher.
-What’s a dial phone? I haven’t the time? Actually, I can’t remember.
-Did people used to respect the news media? Walter Cronkite. Look him up.
-Did you have electricity in school? Yep.
Every morning we said the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag (the same flag those nitwits are burning). We prayed. And there was no fall, winter or spring break. We had Christmas and Easter vacation.
A riot was when someone on TV made you laugh really hard.
We turned out fine.
Not perfect. But a damn sight better than the vermin wreaking havoc on TV these days.
Mike Tasos’ column is published every other weekend. Those teachers pictured in the yearbook were always so old. Now you don’t say Mr. or Mrs., you refer to them as “the late…” Comments can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. He is also on Facebook.