[Masthead] Partly Cloudy ~ 45°F  
Dense Fog Advisory
Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017

Those shifty, twisty age milestones

Posted Friday, May 28, 2010, at 4:38 PM

When I was 18, back in the Dark Ages, it was the age of thirty that was considered a milestone birthday, and no one my age wanted to reach it.

The battle cry was "Never trust anyone over 30."

None of the young men and women my age wanted to be part of the "establishment," and that, to our young eyes, was anyone a mere 12 years older than we were. Thirty? We'd never be thirty -- it was miles away.

My sister and I were discussing this recently, and laughing at our naivete. We still don't trust anyone who's over 30, but that's mainly because we're talking about our offspring, who, to our now-older eyes, are mere children.

When we were done laughing at that, we talked more about those "milestone" birthdays and realized there are quite a few.

There's 13, when we become that alien species known as a teenager. And then "Sweet Sixteen," a distinction only for girls, because who would call a 16-year-old boy "sweet?"

After that comes 18, when boys (and at 18, they are still only boys) must register for a draft that no longer exists. At least now the boys can vote before they join the military.

And then it's an eye-blink to 21, when the drinking already being done by most of us becomes legal.

Before you know it, 30 comes along and it's a mere 10 years before you're over the hill at 40. And at about the time you absorb your "forty-ness," you're pushing hard on 50.

For the next 10 years, you spend most of your daydreaming time worrying about whether you'll make it to 60, which is a mistake because it uses up valuable time that you'll have plenty of after you retire at 65 and collect Social Security, which we all devoutly hope will still be there for us.

And after that, well, it's all up to your state of health and the good Lord, isn't it?

My sister argues that there are really only a few truly significant birthdays.

She believes that 21, when all things become legal, certainly makes the cut, and so does 40. But after that, she says, the next most significant age is 59 1/2.

"Why?" I asked her.

"Because that's the age when you can start taking money out of your 401(k)," she said. "And after that, the next most significant age is 70 1/2, when you are required to begin taking money out of your 401(k)."

I have a very different perspective from that of my sensible sister.

Once you're past the very large bump in the road that is 60, the next most significant birthday is 64.

When I was 21 in 1967, the Beatles released "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band." And in that album was a silly little ditty, with the flavor of a 1920s music hall number, that holds deeper meaning for me today than it did an impossible-to-imagine 43 years ago:

"When I get older losing my hair, many years from now ... will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I'm 64?"

The first babies of the boomer generation were born in 1946. That means we're all turning 64 this year.

And I am sharing the 64th anniversary of my years on the planet with some pretty big names among the 3.7 million babies born that year:

Former president Bill Clinton; former president George W. Bush and Laura Bush; actors Danny Glover, Tommy Lee Jones and Sylvester Stallone; Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner; actresses Diane Keaton, Candice Bergen and Susan Sarandon; singers Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt and Liza Minelli; pitcher Jim "Catfish" Hunter and Yankee slugger Reggie Jackson; directors John Woo, John Waters, Oliver Stone and Steven Spielberg; heart transplant pioneer Dr. Robert Jarvik; bazillionaire Donald Trump; singer Barry Manilow; attorney Kenneth Starr (yes, that one); politicians Dennis Kucinich and Chuck Hagel; TV personality Pat Sajak; and laid-back singer Jimmy Buffett.

And Cher.

And those are just a few of the ones who are still alive to celebrate a 64th birthday.

Not long after the conversation with my sister, I brought up the subject of being in such good company to celebrate this milestone birthday, to my husband, who is younger than I am.

When I mentioned the irony of the Beatles' hit song, he looked puzzled, and said he wasn't quite sure if he knew it.

"You don't remember it? It was all over the radio when it was released. How could you forget it?" I said.

He hemmed and hawed a little bit and said he thought maybe he remembered it after all, as I sat down at the computer and tried to find it on youtube.

As the notes tumbled out of the speakers, I saw the recognition dawn on his face.

"See? You do remember it after all, don't you?" I said. "I just can't imagine you could forget such a popular song."

And then I saw the flicker of amusement in his eyes as he zeroed in for the kill.

"I do remember it now," he said. "Let's see -- you were 21 that year, right?"

I nodded my head in agreement.

"Well," he said, "That was 1967. I was 12."

Showing comments in chronological order
[Show most recent comments first]


Congratulations on a milestone.

I certainly enjoy your writing on "this, that and everything." Your columns on the history of Marshall earlier this year, were especially fun to read.

Jim "Catfish" Hunter who shares your birth year is no longer w/us. He died on September 9, 1999 after a fall down stairs at his home in Hertford, NC. He like Lou Gehrig had ALS.

-- Posted by upsedaisy on Sat, May 29, 2010, at 4:15 PM

Thank you - and yes, you are right about the late great Mr. Hunter. My aunt (who was also my godmother) died of ALS, also.

-- Posted by Kathy Fairchild on Sat, May 29, 2010, at 5:39 PM

I remember when I thought 30 was old, I even took it a little hard when I turned 30, I am now coming up to my 33rd b-day and I'm fine with it...most of the time. These days the only time I really feel old is when other people point it out to me that I'm a "little" older than them. The other day I was at the wal-mart check out, this young lady (maybe 18yrs young) was nice and said something about her nephew, I replied with how wonderful nephews and nieces are and proudly stated the fact that I was a soon to be a Great Aunt as I had 2 great nephews on the way, she looked at me and said "Your that old?", I imagine the look on my face was not a grateful one as she soon threw out the words "I was just kidding", that day I felt old and remembered the times when I was her age and thought to myself...30 is right around the corner sweetheart!

-- Posted by MBGAL on Tue, Jun 1, 2010, at 11:47 AM

It's very difficult, I think, to get a grip on the passage of time (which is much, much faster than any of us is prepared for). In my head, I am still under 30, but the mirror tells a different story. This is the way of all things human - one day you are 30, the next you are twice that. The woman who today looks like you did in your 30s will be older one day, too, if she is lucky.

-- Posted by Kathy Fairchild on Tue, Jun 1, 2010, at 6:56 PM

Cheetah, Cher never fits in anyone else's category. She may not be the most talented singer or the most beautiful woman or any other of the usual "mosts," but when others have fallen by the wayside, she is still, proudly, her own woman.

I'm with you on never returning to the days of my youth. I wouldn't be 18 again for anything. And I am reminded every day that no matter how much knowledge I gather, there is still MUCH more to be learned. My goal is to be up for the challenge of learning until God turns out the lights on me - and if she's listening, I'd appreciate it if you could make it a surprise.

-- Posted by Kathy Fairchild on Wed, Jun 2, 2010, at 5:59 AM


That bit about your husband reminds me of Eric and me. He graduated from high school when I was in 6th grade. I tell him that balding men are very attractive -- and I mean it!

-- Posted by Amy Crump on Wed, Jun 2, 2010, at 7:07 AM

age is as age does ... or something like that.

my mind is still waiting to grow up, but my body thinks i'm eighty.

i'm sure that somewhere between cooper's "eighteen" and ringo's "when i'm 64" there is a quiet piece of heaven called "paradise" where each of us can make our own peace with whatever age we might be.

the thruth is ... from the day we are born our cradle swings over the grave. that's why it's a good idea to make every day count.

god - whether "he" or "she" or some wonderful, mystical mix of both - has surely numbered our days and knows when to expect us at the doorstep.

good writing Cathy - may your tribe increase!


-- Posted by zeke on Thu, Jun 3, 2010, at 8:15 AM

Remember, growing old is mandatory. Growing up is OPTIONAL!

-- Posted by TerryM on Fri, Jun 4, 2010, at 9:58 AM

Respond to this blog

Posting a comment requires free registration:

Kathy Fairchild received a Bachelor of Arts degree in business administration in 1986 from Marycrest College, Davenport, Iowa. She is also a 2003 graduate of the paralegal program at New York University. She moved to Marshall in 2006, following a career of more than 30 years with the world's largest farm equipment manufacturer. She is an Air Force brat and grandmother of four.
Hot topics
Lost Weekend
(1 ~ 12:41 PM, Mar 25)

Please help me, I'm fallin'
(3 ~ 6:07 AM, Sep 9)

Jukebox Democracy
(8 ~ 9:43 PM, Aug 19)

We're this close
(0 ~ 10:55 AM, Jun 9)

Part of the function of memory is to forget*
(5 ~ 9:31 PM, May 30)