The Age I Am

Today I made a step forward and actually attended a spin class at the gym that I pay for monthly. It’s probably my first time IN the gym since December (or possibly November…or maybe October) and I was…uh…NOT in the best shape of my life. Au contraire…I literally thought for a brief moment that at any time during the 45 minute ride that I might pass out and fall off my bike. After considering the possibility of this happening while spinning to the Goo Goo Dolls remake of the Supertramp classic, “Give A Little Bit,” I realized something…

I am THE perfect age. Right now. At the age of 43.

In the past couple of weeks, I’ve noticed that there are a lot of 80’s songs being played everywhere. In commercials and on the radio (FM radio is chock full of the “oldies”). There are repeated showings of 80’s movies on tv (ANOTHER “Ferris Bueller/Terminator” Marathon on AMC?!?! Count me IN!) and there are plenty of channels rerunning 80’s television classics (if “ALF” is on, I’m watchin’!). Last week the remote control decided to stop on VH1 where they are airing 80’s music videos again (because apparently music videos of today kinda suck) and I must have watched 3 hours of Duran Duran/Whitesnake/A-Ha classics! So today it officially hit me that I am now a part of the age group that is spending its money. To capitalize on this, marketing teams around the country are pandering to my sense of nostalgia, working hard to get me to spend my well earned cash and ya know what? It’s kind of flattering!

I cannot deny that if I hear a song from my childhood in a commercial (OH YEEEEEEAH….Ferris Bueller pandering cars?!?! Love it!!!), I totally watch the entire spot. Does it make me want to buy a new car? Sure. I would LOVE to be able to afford a new car (well…actually I want a larger vehicle. Preferably something that doesn’t sit so low to the ground) even if I know there’s no way in hell I’m gonna go buy one. And those box sets that they market on tv overnight (“ALL THE 80’S CLASSICS! JUST LIKE YOU REMEMBER THEM!!!”) are tempting even if they do ONLY cost $9.99 a month for the rest of your life (although let’s be perfectly honest…I’ve downloaded them all already anyway). I’ll sit and watch “The Princess Bride” with commercials even if I do own it on Blu-Ray AND regular DVD just because I’m too lazy to go put them in the DVD player and I don’t want to miss Billy Crystal’s brief moment as Miracle Max (“Have fun storming the castle!”). I am a sucker for ALL this nostalgia stuff and I am being tricked, manipulated even, as my childhood is being used to woo me to spend my dolla billz and sentz (as the younger generation calls it…I think). But even with this push to get me to spend, SPEND, SPEND! I’m trying hard not too. Today we are in difficult times. Money is flowing like water down the drain and I am trying to keep my head afloat. As a matter of fact, from what I can tell…ALL of us are. Sure…there are the few lucky ones who have extra to burn and to those folks, I wish them all the best. But for me and most of my friends of the 80’s, from what I can tell, we are all treading water and looking for a life raft.

A couple of weeks ago, the MegaMillions lottery was up to a gazillion dollars (or somewhere close to that). Twitter and Facebook were going NUTZ (there I go with that young speak again) with friends posting about wanting to win the big payoff. Every day I can log on and read how my friends, old and new, are all trying to make do. A family vacation here, a little gift for oneself there (I just got an IPad. I’m officially WAY behind the curve on that one) but for the most part? We’re all spinning our wheels, trying to keep up in a world that is, for the most part, spinning out of control with access. It is SO easy these days to go surfing on the world wide web and buy ANYTHING we want! Or there is a Target 2 miles away. Or there are people coming to our doors to sell everything from cookies to lawn care to salvation for your soul (and they even take Mastercard, Visa and American Express!). Everywhere you turn…everyone wants MY money! And there are ways to make me wanna buy without me even realizing it. Until today.

A few weeks ago, I was in Destin, Florida with my family when I noticed that the music being played at the pool was all 80’s. This was interesting to me because you would have thought that more modern pop music would have been the music of choice, especially during spring break. But then I realized…I am the one who has the cash. It was my wife and I who paid for the vacation. It was my wife and I who had made the drive in our oversized tank with an entertainment system in single lane traffic for 2 days in crappy weather that had bought into this condo beach haven as a primo hotspot for our family and all of our friends’ families to visit for a week. It was I who had the cash to pony up for all the toys and bathing suits and sunblock (Mental Note: Sunblock MUST be applied on your feet also) so my kids could go splash around in the ocean for 5 hours before complaining of sand rash (Mental Note: wear biker shorts when in salt water. Ya don’t want your junk getting all scratchy). So…it made sense that the music being blared over the loud speakers near the heated pool (Mental Note: Even in Florida, a heated pool is WAY better than the non-heated pool in March) was a nice mixture of Michael Jackson and Madonna 80’s hits. Does it bother me that I’m the new “It” generation? Nah. I guess it had to happen sometime.

Today I went to the gym for the first time in months. I burned off 1300 calories, shot a little hoop, did 5 or 6 pushups and attended a spinning class. I’m feeling young again…until tonight when I’ll probably make pasta with meatballs for dinner with garlic bread and milk and then I’ll wake tomorrow with my legs searing with pain and my arms feeling numb. But for RIGHT THIS SECOND? I’m feeling young again. I am THE age that I should want to be. And so now I should be enjoying it instead of worrying about it so much. So I’ve made a goal for myself. And here it is…

I want to be able to play an entire game of basketball with my son without feeling like I’m gonna keel over at any second.

That’s it.

I don’t want to be 18 again. I don’t want to be 28 again. Hell…I don’t want to be 38 again. I don’t need ripped abs or sweet pecs or gluts of steel. I don’t want to be able to run the Boston Marathon or cross country like Forrest Gump. With my work schedule and kids schedule and social calendar, I CAN’T want those things. I do not have the time. But to want to simply be in shape enough to play ball with my son or daughter (if she wants to play) is all I really want. My Dad is 73 and he plays golf just about every day and he’s in GREAT shape. That’s what I want. I want to be 73 and in good enough shape that I can play tennis or golf or even shoot around and not feel like I’ve been smoking every day of my life. I think that’s a goal I can manage. So today is the start of the rest of my life, I suppose. It had to arrive sometime. Might as well be today. And then when I’M 73 and shooting hoops with my grandkids, they’ll all be amazed at how great grampy looks! Of course…the only problem with being 73 is that you are no longer a part of the “IT” generation. Somehow I don’t think that will be such a bad thing but I WILL miss the videos on VH1. Those are simply the best…

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