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Those shifty, twisty age milestonesPosted 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 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."
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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.