At around 11:30 am July 14th I will officially have been breathing on my own for 60 years.
Much has changed since that hot July day in 1949 but I celebrate the anniversary of that day quietly, at least internally.
There are some similarities between then and now:
I was not working when I was born and I am not working now.
I did not have that much hair then and, well I don't have that much left now.
Most of my food back then was in the form of a liquid and I do make it a point now to have at least one in that form every day as well, although my current libations are a bit more potent.
I couldn't really use my hands all that well at birth and until I finish physical therapy in a few weeks (depending on my HMO) I have limitations in that department now also. (I could suck on my toes back then. Now I'd be in traction if I tried.)
I lived at home then and I live in my home now. (Do you live at home? - Always a pet bugaboo with me. Ask if you dare and I'll explain.)
The country was just coming out of a war back then and peace, if we don't consider the cold war was about to reign for a while. Well I guess it's the opposite now as we seem to be entering into a never ending period of war. But we would only know that by turning on the TV or searching the innards of the papers as a celebrity death or Politician's affair can preempt the war in a moment's notice.
We are arguably heading into a warming trend in the world with Global Climate Change a real threat to our existence on this planet. And yet this July and the June that just ended were rather cool and wet. This is a stark contrast to 1949 which, as my mother loved to remind me was an extremely hot record breaking summer during which she carried me to term. The guilt starts early in a nice Jewish home.
The Dow Jones was at 170 which was actually not bad since it started in 1896 at 28.66 (Why they didn't start at like at 10 or 100 is beyond me but I guess they needed to be inscrutable.) However that 170 Dow was 55% lower than its all time high to that point.
Now we are around 8,330 on the Dow which is 41% lower than our current all time high. That's quite an improvement and it happened in my lifetime. No applause please.
Naturally there are many differences between the worlds of 1949 and now not the least of which is the fact that I am typing this on a personal computer. But we still have our old typewriter somewhere in the attic and even an electric one in the basement. It's under a layer of dust and behind some broken TV table I have to fix one of these days. Back then everyone knew what an Eberhard Faber #2 was, now only old accountants remember them.
And I have my mother's old Singer as well. You have to be really young to not know what that is. (Hint to the younger readers, it's not one of the Jonas Brothers.)
Back then we ate out occasionally and brought in food for dinner once or twice a month. Our favorite take out then as now was Chinese food but then Chow Mein was the staple. I can still remember when we branched out nervously to Moo Goo Gai Pan which was really just Chow Mein on steroids. It's was like all Mexican fast food is now - they use the same basic ingredients but in different proportions so it has a different name. (I'll have a tacquito, or is it a burriquito, no wait make it a Quesapizza.)
Nowadays we have Asian Fusion restaurants that serve any combination of every Far Eastern country including sushi which back when I was born was a huge no-no. In fact even when I was growing up eating it raw had a different connotation that was not all that pleasant.
But one thing I guess I enjoy about being old other than the fact that not getting old means I didn't make it is my family, my wife and kids. Everyone loves their own and I am no exception. Sure they piss me off from time to time but I probably return the favor just as much, at least I try to. The difference is that I am entering my so-called golden years and I am expected to become more irascible and annoying. (Funny how we color old age - Golden years - Gray brigade - just as our eyesight is failing.)
I especially love the image of the family sitting around the dinner table with the patriarch chomping away obliviously on some piece of chicken while the conversation moves to the inevitable,
"What do you want to do with Pop?"
"Well we have company coming this weekend you know."
"Right, I forgot. Okay, I'll put him in the garage."
I am getting close to that point although my dad is 91 plus and still doing well thank you very much. Unfortunately he recently lost his girlfriend and that is naturally weighing on him but, at least to this point he is a survivor and an all around good man. And with the help of his 2 kids and their wonderful wives; his 4 grand children and 2 grand children in law; and his 4 (so far) great grand children as well as surviving friends and neighbors he will continue to do well.
But that's another story and this is my birthday. If he wants to talk about himself let him write his own blog.
As a joke I have always stated that my one ambition in life is to become a burden to my children. And while I cannot know exactly how many years I will have been breathing at that point in time I must say that I hope they have a nicely furnished garage.