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Excerpt from Dave Barry Turns 50 by Dave Barry, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Dave Barry Turns 50

by Dave Barry

Dave Barry Turns 50 by Dave Barry X
Dave Barry Turns 50 by Dave Barry
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  • First Published:
    Oct 1998, 224 pages

    Aug 1999, 255 pages


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"I know," he said.

After that, I started seeing a lot of guys with their collars up, and I realized that it was a trend. Many of these guys were younger than I, but some were my age or even older, and I wondered: Should I be doing this? When I was young and hip-when it was a question of wearing bell-bottomed jeans, or growing my hair long, or smoking banana skins to see if they got you high--I never had a moment's doubt; I just knew. But I was ambivalent about the turned-up jacket collar: Was it really hip? Or were these guys just a bunch of twits?

The answer, we now know thanks to tests conducted by the National Institute of Science, is that they were in fact a bunch of twits. So I'm glad I never participated in that trend. But the point is that, because of my Hipness Uncertainty Syndrome, I wasted valuable time worrying about it.

As years passed and I got older, I found myself worrying less and less about trends. For example, when I was in my 40s, young black men started wearing their baseball caps backward. I was never even slightly tempted to imitate them. A lot of guys were, though. It wasn't so bad with the younger ones, but there was a certain age--I would pinpoint this age at 17--beyond which it started to look pretty silly. You'd see middle-class white guys in their 30s apparently thinking that by turning their caps around they had transformed themselves from junior insurance executives into bad ghetto dudes. Boyz N the Burbz.

I'm happy that, as a definitely older person, I'll never again have to go through that. Likewise I never have to wonder if I should try to like rap music, or wear gigantic pants with the waist down around my knees. Nor do I ever feel any need to participate in a current trend with potentially a very high twitness quotient: Cigar Mania, which in the mid-Nineties swept the nation the way a fart sweeps a crowded living room. All of a sudden, everywhere you go, all these people in the prime of their Hipness Uncertainty Syndrome years are fondling cigars, puffing earnestly away on cigars, and--worst of all--droning away endlessly about cigars, as though cigars are an intellectual topic comparable to classical literature, as opposed to transient wads of spit-drenched tobacco.

Don't misunderstand me: I know that some people, a small minority, truly like cigars--they smoked them before they were popular, and they'll smoke them after they stop being popular. But you just know that, at some point, a whole lot of these puffers and fondlers and droners are going to wake up one morning, smell the cigar stench on their hair and skin and taste the cigar slime clinging to their teeth, and they're going to say: "What the hell am I doing?"

Most of us older people managed to completely avoid participating in the cigar trend, and we feel good about it. We also feel good about the fact that when we hear about global warming, or toxic waste, or global cooling, or the destruction of the rain forests, or one of the many other serious problems threatening to wipe out the entire human race by the year 2050 unless we do something drastic, we can frown politely as though we're concerned, when in fact we're thinking: "No problem! I'll be dead!"

Yes, there are some real benefits to turning 50. And that's going to be the theme of this book: It's going to be a celebration of the aging process. I'm not talking about just my aging process, but that of the whole massive Baby Boom Generation-the millions and millions of us who were born in the postwar era and went on to set a standard for whiny self-absorption that probably will never be equaled.

But dammit, we have a lot to be self-absorbed about. Oh, sure, we had a pretty impressive act to follow. Our parents' generation overcame the Great Depression, won World War II, and went on to build the greatest and most powerful nation this planet has ever seen. But look at the many accomplishments that we Baby Boomers can point to: Saturday Night Live! The New Age movement! Call waiting!

From Dave Barry Turns 50 by Dave Barry. Copyright October 1998 Dave Barry Used by permission.

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