The ‘S’ Word

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I’m going to be 60-years-old this month.

There, I said it. And don’t give me that “60 is the new 50” line. It’s not. It’s still 60.

It has taken me a good, long time to come to grips with it, but it turns out “60” is a lot more difficult to say than I thought it was. Of course, it’s just a number. To be honest, I never thought I would get this far.

When you’re in your 20s, your parents are in their 50s. You can’t even imagine 50 at that point, but 60? Fugheddaboutit.

Several years ago, my Uncle Paulie was turning 60 and at his birthday party, I grabbed him and in a playful way told him, “Now you are officially old”. But when he turned 70 in 2014 and I was now approaching 60, I made sure to apologize for that remark, insisting that 60 is not really “old.”

I guess I wear it well because most people I encounter that don’t know me are quite surprised when they find out my actual age. But I was having trouble coming to grips with actually saying “60.” It just doesn’t feel right saying the “s” word.

Turning 30 is a major milestone in life. That is kind of when you need to begin acting like a grown up and you start having responsibilities.

Turning 40 is more like a whirlwind because life is coming at you in all directions. You are most likely married and now you are responsible not only for yourself, but you may have children. Raising young children is like waking up with your hair on fire every day. And now you add in a mortgage and a Labrador retriever and your 40s might be the most stressful period of your adult life.

Turning 50 is when you get to take a deep breath and celebrate surviving your 40s. Your kids are grown and no longer need to be micromanaged. You are (hopefully) making more money and for the first time since the kids were born, you can almost see the light at the end of the tunnel. You can at least see the tunnel. But in your 50s, you can still be cool. Nobody looks at you any differently if you say you are 55 than they did if you were 45.

But use the “S” word and everything changes. Some people are shocked; others seem to have empathy for you. They look at you like you lost a pet. No one is excited for you, like they were when you were turning 50.

Let’s face it – it’s all downhill from here. I’ve already started losing patience with stupid things that never would have bothered me 10 years ago. Talk about being on the back-nine of life. What’s left now? Finally getting that senior discount? Becoming a grandparent? Retirement and collecting a pension for doing nothing? Playing more golf? Traveling anytime and anywhere we want? No more alarm clocks? Wearing sweatpants? Smoking more cigars?

Hey wait a minute, that doesn’t sound so bad, does it?
So yeah, I’m going to be 60 in February. I’m OK with that. Now get off my lawn, you young whippersnappers.

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Paul DiSclafani is a columnist for Massapequa Observer.

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