It's Great to Be 50!
Right. And Herbert Hoover was a rap singer.
I am NOT going to whine.
Yes, I have turned 50.
Yes, this is an age that I used to consider old. Not middle-aged, like Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore in The Dick Van Dyke Show; but actually old, like Walter Brennan as Granpappy Amos in The Real McCoys, gimping around cluelessly in a pair of bib overalls and saying things like "Con-SARN it!"
But I do not choose to dwell on the negative. I choose to be an optimist, like the great explorer Christopher Columbus, who had a dream that he could sail a ship all the way across the Atlantic Ocean. People said he was crazy, but Columbus did not know the meaning of the word "discouragement." (He also did not know the meaning of "nostril" or "weasel," because he spoke Italian.)
And so Columbus boldly set out and discovered the New World, and then he went back to Europe, where he died in obscurity at age 55, which is only five years older than I am right now! OH GOD! MY LIFE IS OVER!!!
No, scratch that. I really am going to be positive in this book, instead of dwelling on the negative aspects of turning 50, such as that you get wrinkled and forgetful and achy, and you gain weight merely by watching food commercials, and the warranties are expiring on all your remaining teeth and internal organs, and your idea of a big night is to stay up late enough to see the previews for Letterman, whose actual show you have not watched since the Reagan administration.
I am not going to dwell on those things, nor am I going to mention the fact that when you get to this age, you discover random hairs sprouting from unexpected sectors of your body, so that, in addition to all the other little maintenance tasks you've always performed each day, you find yourself asking questions like: Did I remember to pluck my ears?
And I am not going to even mention the word "prostate."
Instead, I'm going to talk about the good things that happen to you when you turn 50, such as . . .
Okay, give me a minute here . . .
All right, here's one: You can't read anything. At least I can't. Actually, this started happening to me when I was 48; I started noticing that when I tried to read restaurant menus, they looked like this:
Broasted free-range fennel shootlets with modules of prawns -- $19
Pecan-encrusted apricot-glazed garlic-enhanced shank of frog -- $27
Liver "en Fester" dans une bunche de creme de corne -- $21
At first I thought that this had nothing to do with me--that, for some reason, possibly to save ink, the restaurants had started printing their menus in letters the height of bacteria; all I could see was little blurs. But for some reason, everybody else seemed to be able to read the menus. Not wishing to draw attention to myself, I started ordering my food by simply pointing to a likely looking blur.
ME (pointing to a blur): I'll have this.
WAITER: You'll have "We Do Not Accept Personal Checks"?
ME: Make that medium rare.
Pretty soon I started noticing that everything I tried to read--newspapers, books, nasal-spray instructions, the United States Constitution--had been changed to the bacteria-letter format. I also discovered that, contrary to common sense, I could read these letters if I got farther away from them. So for a while I dealt with the situation by ordering off the menus of people sitting at other tables.
"I'd like to order some dessert," I'd tell the waiter. "Please bring a menu to the people at that table over there and ask them to hold it up so I can see it."
From Dave Barry Turns 50 by Dave Barry. Copyright October 1998 Dave Barry Used by permission.
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review
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