Dave Barry Turns 50

Dave Barry Turns 50

5.0 6
by Dave Barry
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

From the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist comes a celebration of the aging process. Not just Dave's, but that of the whole Baby Boom Generation—those millions of us who set a standard for whining self-absorption that will never be equaled, and who gave birth to such stunning accomplishments as Saturday Night Live!, the New Age movement, and call waiting. Here

See more details below

Overview

From the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist comes a celebration of the aging process. Not just Dave's, but that of the whole Baby Boom Generation—those millions of us who set a standard for whining self-absorption that will never be equaled, and who gave birth to such stunning accomplishments as Saturday Night Live!, the New Age movement, and call waiting. Here Dave pinpoints the glaring signs that you've passed the half-century mark:

- You are suddenly unable to read anything written in letters smaller than Marlon Brando.
- You have accepted the fact that you can't possibly be hip. You don't even know if "hip" is the right word for hip anymore, and you don't care.
- You remember nuclear-attack drills at school wherein you practiced protecting yourself by crouching under your desk, which was apparently made out of some kind of atomic-bomb-proof wood.
- You can't name the secretary of defense, but you can still sing the Mister Clean song.

So pop open a can of Geritol®, kick back in that recliner, grab those reading glasses, and let the good times roll—before they roll right over you!

Read More

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"QUOTING BARRY IS LIKE EATING PEANUTS. . . . ONCE YOU GET STARTED IT'S AWFULLY HARD TO STOP."—The Washington Post

"RIOTOUS . . . [Barry] can find the humor in pretty much anything. And . . . he does not intend to go even slightly gently into that good night."
—San Francisco Examiner

Lance Gould
. . .[F]or a humor bookthere are not enough laughs. Flashes of Barry's wit occasionally surface. . . —New York Times Book Review
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Pulitzer prize-winning columnist Barry claims, "Many bad things happen when you turn 50. You can't see; you can't hear; you can read the entire Oxford English Dictionary in the time it takes you to go to the bathroom; and you keep meeting people your own age who look like Grandpa Walton." Even so, in this follow-up to his bestselling Dave Barry Turns 40, he decided not to dwell "on the negative aspects of turning 50" and instead offers a "celebration of the aging process" by examining significant baby-boomer accomplishments ("The New Age movement! Call waiting!"). Barry begins with boomer origins in the late 1940s, a time when record players "were closer in design and sound quality to washing machines." Each subsequent decade gets a full chapter as Barry waxes nostalgic while shuffling down pathways of the past to examine an assortment of arcane artifacts and "actual facts," largely gleaned from Rita Lang Kleinfelder's 750-page When We Were Young: A Baby-Boomer Yearbook. Barry ends each chapter with "Discussion Questions" ("Did you inhale? Explain."), and maintains mirth right to the closing pages (retirement plans, death options). However, it's the look back at TV commercials, politics, inventions and attitudes that really makes those who have seen it all (much of "it" through trifocals) chortle out loud. It's not unlike an archeological dig through an attic, choking from laughter rather than dust, as familiar and forgotten memories are refreshed and taken for a satirical synaptic spin by a master humorist. 13-city birthday tour. (Oct.) FYI: Appropriately enough, this title is also available as a Random House audio ($18 ISBN 0-375-40428-7) and in a large-print edition ($22 ISBN 0-375-70418-3)
Library Journal
Dave Barry Turns 40 hit the number two spot on the New York Times Bestseller list, so who knows what will happen with this account of Barry's reaching the Big Five-Oh.
Thomas Fields-Meyer
. . .[M]aterial you might hear from a Las Vegas comic on a bad night. At his age, Barry ought to know better. -- People Magazine
Kirkus Reviews
It had to happen. Old Mister Barry (Dave Barry Is from Mars and Venus ; Dave Barry in Cyberspace), like many another humorist, has advanced in years and lived to tell about it. Baby Boomer comics are reaching the half-century mark in droves. It generally turns them solipsistic as well as silly, as they harken to toots, creaks, squeaks, and other sounds of creeping senescence. Barry reports on his physical condition, too, and why not? But he also has another idea. A good part of his current effort presents a cultural history of the formative Boomer times and his part in them, starting with 1947 and going through 1974, when, it appears, the author gets tired of the exercise. If it's not quite Mark Sullivan's memorable six-volume Our Times covering the century's early decades, the survey is, indeed, our times (or Barry's times, anyway). And pretty foolish they seem, too, as Barry's time capsule recalls popular music, consumer products, TV shows, advertising, and, of course, the ever-looming threat of Godless communism and the scary Sputnik. Nixon, Johnson, Kissinger are recalled with pleasant contempt. Fearlessly, the author names names; and almost always the name is the late Buffalo Bob, so things weren't all bad. There was, after all, 'streaking,' and Barry would like to see the fad of naked sprinting brought back, although in the case of Boomers, 'there should definitely be a weight limitation.' In addition to the nostalgia, Dave presents obligatory lists (number 14 in '25 Things I Have Learned in 50 Years': 'Nobody is normal'), review questions, and footnotes (all citing 'Buffalo Bob'). And nowhere is the word 'prostate' found—except on the cover. Barry'seven longer in the tooth than he was when he wrote Dave Barry Turns 40; despite his protestations of dotage, he is still clever enough to be his old funny self. There will probably be more laughs before Dave Barry Turns 60.

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780345431691
Publisher:
Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
08/28/1999
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
224
Sales rank:
234,562
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.50(d)

Meet the Author

Dave Barry is a Pulitzer prize-winning columnist and the best-selling author of Dave Barry Is from Mars and Venus, Dave Barry in Cyberspace, Dave Barry's Guide to Guys, and other books. He lives in Miami, Florida, of course.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Miami, Florida
Date of Birth:
July 3, 1947
Place of Birth:
Armonk, New York
Education:
B.A. in English, Haverford College, 1969
Website:
http://www.davebarry.com

Read an Excerpt

Introduction


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:


Entrees

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."

Eventually I had to break down and buy those reading glasses that are cut low so you can peer over the top. The first time you put on a pair of those is a major milestone in your life. Because there is no question about it: This is the start of your Senior Citizenship. The transformation is comparable to the one Clark Kent goes through: He takes off his glasses and becomes Superman; you put on your reading glasses and become . . . Old Person.

You find that with your reading glasses on you behave differently. You become crotchety and easily irritated by little things, such as when the supermarket runs out of your preferred brand of low-fat, low-sodium, vitamin-fortified, calcium-enriched, high-fiber, non-meat "breakfast links" made from tofu and compressed cardboard. You become angry at the radio because it keeps playing songs you hate, which is a LOT of songs, because you basically hate every song written since the Beatles broke up, and you're sick of the Beatles, too, because you've heard every one of their songs 900 million times on "oldies" radio, which is all you've listened to for over twenty years. You feel that everybody except you drives too fast. You think of people under the age of 30 as "whippersnappers," and you get the urge to peer over your glasses at them and tell them how tough things were during the Great Depression, even though you personally were born in 1947. Sometimes you are tempted to say, "Con-SARN it!"

So, to avoid transforming into Old Person, you tend to wear your reading glasses as little as possible. You lose them. You go out without them. The result is, much of the time, you can't read anything printed in letters smaller than Marlon Brando.

But what I've discovered-this is the positive aspect of aging that I've been driving at-is that very often not being able to read is a good thing. For example, without my reading glasses, the only part of the newspaper I can read is the headlines, so my front page looks like this:


FIGHTING ERUPTS YET AGAIN IN MIDDLE EAST

Historic Peace Accord No. 2,965,978 Goes Down the Crapper

This doesn't say anything. This is just a bunch of words I wrote here to make it look like there's a story under the headline. If you have gone to the trouble of blowing this up so that you can read it, let me just say: Congratulations, you have even more spare time than I do, which is saying a LOT.

But seriously, I really have absolutely nothing to tell you here, unless you want me to solve some mysteries that have totally baffled the human race, such as what is the true meaning of life, and whether there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe and which, really, is the best long-distance carrier for you. Would you like me to tell you those things? You would? OK! I will, then! But first I want to tell you exactly who was responsible for the Kennedy assassination. Ready? Here goes: The Kennedy assassination was committed by

This doesn't say anything. This is just a bunch of words I wrote here to make it look like there's a story under the headline. If you have gone to the trouble of blowing this up so that you can read it, let me just say: Congratulations, you have even more spare time than I do, which is saying a LOT.

But seriously, I really have absolutely nothing to tell you here, unless you want me to solve some mysteries that have totally baffled the human race, such as what is the true meaning of life, and whether there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe and which, really, is the best long-distance carrier for you. Would you like me to tell you those things? You would? OK! I will, then! But first I want to tell you exactly who was responsible for the Kennedy assassination. Ready? Here goes: The Kennedy assassination was committed by

This doesn't say anything. This is just a bunch of words I wrote here to make it look like there's a story under the headline. If you have gone to the trouble of blowing this up so that you can read it, let me just say: Congratulations, you have even more spare time than I do, which is saying a LOT.

But seriously, I really have absolutely nothing to tell you here, unless you want me to solve some mysteries that have totally baffled the human race, such as what is the true meaning of life, and whether there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe and which, really, is the best long-distance carrier for you. Would you like me to tell you those things? You would? OK! I will, then! But first I want to tell you exactly who was responsible for the Kennedy assassination. Ready? Here goes: The Kennedy assassination was committed by


SOCIAL SECURITY SYSTEM COLLAPSING

You, Personally, Will Never Get a Cent HAHAHAHAHAHA

This doesn't say anything. This is just a bunch of words I wrote here to make it look like there's a story under the headline. If you have gone to the trouble of blowing this up so that you can read it, let me just say: Congratulations, you have even more spare time than I do, which is saying a LOT.

But seriously, I really have absolutely nothing to tell you here, unless you want me to solve some mysteries that have totally baffled the human race, such as what is the true meaning of life, and whether there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe and which, really, is the best long-distance carrier for you. Would you like me to tell you those things? You would? OK! I will, then! But first I want to tell you exactly who was responsible for the Kennedy assassination. Ready? Here goes: The Kennedy assassination was committed by

This doesn't say anything. This is just a bunch of words I wrote here to make it look like there's a story under the headline. If you have gone to the trouble of blowing this up so that you can read it, let me just say: Congratulations, you have even more spare time than I do, which is saying a LOT.

But seriously, I really have absolutely nothing to tell you here, unless you want me to solve some mysteries that have totally baffled the human race, such as what is the true meaning of life, and whether there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe and which, really, is the best long-distance carrier for you. Would you like me to tell you those things? You would? OK! I will, then! But first I want to tell you exactly who was responsible for the Kennedy assassination. Ready? Here goes: The Kennedy assassination was committed by

This doesn't say anything. This is just a bunch of words I wrote here to make it look like there's a story under the headline. If you have gone to the trouble of blowing this up so that you can read it, let me just say: Congratulations, you have even more spare time than I do, which is saying a LOT.

But seriously, I really have absolutely nothing to tell you here, unless you want me to solve some mysteries that have totally baffled the human race, such as what is the true meaning of life, and whether there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe and which, really, is the best long-distance carrier for you. Would you like me to tell you those things? You would? OK! I will, then! But first I want to tell you exactly who was responsible for the Kennedy assassination. Ready? Here goes: The Kennedy assassination was committed by


STUDY: EGGPLANT CAUSES CANCER

Same Study Also Shows That Lack of Eggplant Causes Cancer

This doesn't say anything. This is just a bunch of words I wrote here to make it look like there's a story under the headline. If you have gone to the trouble of blowing this up so that you can read it, let me just say: Congratulations, you have even more spare time than I do, which is saying a LOT.

But seriously, I really have absolutely nothing to tell you here, unless you want me to solve some mysteries that have totally baffled the human race, such as what is the true meaning of life, and whether there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe and which, really, is the best long-distance carrier for you. Would you like me to tell you those things? You would? OK! I will, then! But first I want to tell you exactly who was responsible for the Kennedy assassination. Ready? Here goes: The Kennedy assassination was committed by

This doesn't say anything. This is just a bunch of words I wrote here to make it look like there's a story under the headline. If you have gone to the trouble of blowing this up so that you can read it, let me just say: Congratulations, you have even more spare time than I do, which is saying a LOT.

But seriously, I really have absolutely nothing to tell you here, unless you want me to solve some mysteries that have totally baffled the human race, such as what is the true meaning of life, and whether there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe and which, really, is the best long-distance carrier for you. Would you like me to tell you those things? You would? OK! I will, then! But first I want to tell you exactly who was responsible for the Kennedy assassination. Ready? Here goes: The Kennedy assassination was committed by

This doesn't say anything. This is just a bunch of words I wrote here to make it look like there's a story under the headline. If you have gone to the trouble of blowing this up so that you can read it, let me just say: Congratulations, you have even more spare time than I do, which is saying a LOT.

But seriously, I really have absolutely nothing to tell you here, unless you want me to solve some mysteries that have totally baffled the human race, such as what is the true meaning of life, and whether there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe and which, really, is the best long-distance carrier for you. Would you like me to tell you those things? You would? OK! I will, then! But first I want to tell you exactly who was responsible for the Kennedy assassination. Ready? Here goes: The Kennedy assassination was committed by


GIANT ASTEROID WILL SMASH EARTH TODAY; HUMAN RACE DOOMED

Professional Baseball Players Strike for Higher Salaries

This doesn't say anything. This is just a bunch of words I wrote here to make it look like there's a story under the headline. If you have gone to the trouble of blowing this up so that you can read it, let me just say: Congratulations, you have even more spare time than I do, which is saying a LOT.

But seriously, I really have absolutely nothing to tell you here, unless you want me to solve some mysteries that have totally baffled the human race, such as what is the true meaning of life, and whether there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe and which, really, is the best long-distance carrier for you. Would you like me to tell you those things? You would? OK! I will, then! But first I want to tell you exactly who was responsible for the Kennedy assassination. Ready? Here goes: The Kennedy assassination was committed by

This doesn't say anything. This is just a bunch of words I wrote here to make it look like there's a story under the headline. If you have gone to the trouble of blowing this up so that you can read it, let me just say: Congratulations, you have even more spare time than I do, which is saying a LOT.

But seriously, I really have absolutely nothing to tell you here, unless you want me to solve some mysteries that have totally baffled the human race, such as what is the true meaning of life, and whether there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe and which, really, is the best long-distance carrier for you. Would you like me to tell you those things? You would? OK! I will, then! But first I want to tell you exactly who was responsible for the Kennedy assassination. Ready? Here goes: The Kennedy assassination was committed by

This doesn't say anything. This is just a bunch of words I wrote here to make it look like there's a story under the headline. If you have gone to the trouble of blowing this up so that you can read it, let me just say: Congratulations, you have even more spare time than I do, which is saying a LOT.

But seriously, I really have absolutely nothing to tell you here, unless you want me to solve some mysteries that have totally baffled the human race, such as what is the true meaning of life, and whether there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe and which, really, is the best long-distance carrier for you. Would you like me to tell you those things? You would? OK! I will, then! But first I want to tell you exactly who was responsible for the Kennedy assassination. Ready? Here goes: The Kennedy assassination was committed by


See what I mean? I don't want to read those stories. I'm glad they're written in bacteria letters. This is also how I feel about the long, scary Consumer Advisories that appear on virtually every product I buy, advising me how potentially deadly it is, like this:


WARNING: Use of this product may cause nausea, insomnia, euphoria, déjà vu, menopause, tax audits, demonic possession, lung flukes, eyeball worms, decapitation, and mudslides. We would not even dare to sell this product if we did not have a huge, carnivorous legal department that could squash you in court like a baby mouse under a sledgehammer. We frankly cannot believe that you were so stupid as to purchase this product. Your only hope is to set this product down very gently, back slowly away from it, then turn and sprint from your home, never to return.


Back when I could read without reading glasses, I would glance at this information, and it made me nervous. But now, thanks to old age, it looks like this:


WARNING: Here we go again: But seriously, I really have absolutely nothing to tell you here, unless you want me to solve some mysteries that have totally baffled the human race, such as what is the true meaning of life, and whether there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe and which, really, is the best long-distance carrier for you. Would you like me to tell you those things? You would? OK! I will, then! But first I want to tell you exactly who was responsible for the Kennedy assassination. Ready? Here goes: The Kennedy assassination was committed by This doesn't say anything. This is just a bunch of words I wrote here to make it look like there's a story under the headline. If you have gone to the trouble of blowing this up so that you can read it, let me just say: Congratulations, you have even more spare time than I do, which is saying a LOT.

But seriously, I really have absolutely nothing to tell you here, unless you want me to solve some mysteries that have totally baffled the human race, such as what is the true meaning of life, and whether there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe and which, really, is the best long-distance carrier for you. Would you like me to tell you those things? You would? OK! I will, then! But first I want to tell you exactly who was responsible for the Kennedy assassination. Ready? Here goes: The Kennedy assassination was committed by This doesn't say anything. This is just a bunch of words I wrote here to make it look like there's a story under the headline. If you have gone to the trouble of blowing this up so that you can read it, let me just say: Congratulations, you have even more spare time than I do, which is saying a LOT.


So I can just cheerfully discard the Consumer Advisory and swallow the product. Granted, this is sometimes a poor decision, such as when the product is liquid drain opener. But I feel the trade-off is worth it.

I am also much more comfortable these days with products that come in boxes marked "Ready to Assemble." As you consumers know, "Ready to Assemble" is shorthand for "Contains the Same Number of Parts as a Nuclear Aircraft Carrier." These products used to intimidate me, because the instructions usually consist of hundreds of steps like this:


STEP ONE. Here we go again: But seriously, I really have absolutely nothing to tell you here,unless you want me to solve some mysteries that have totally baffled the human race, such as what is the true meaning of life, and whether there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe and which, really, is the best long-distance carrier for you. Would you like me to tell you those things? You would? OK! I will, then! But first I want to tell you exactly who was responsible for the Kennedy assassination. Ready? Here goes: The Kennedy assassination was committed by

STEP TWO. Here we go again: But seriously, I really have absolutely nothing to tell you here, unless you want me to solve some mysteries that have totally baffled the human race, such as what is the true meaning of life, and whether there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe and which, really, is the best long-distance carrier for you. Would you like me to tell you those things? You would? OK! I will, then! But first I want to tell you exactly who was responsible for the Kennedy assassination. Ready? Here goes: The Kennedy assassination was committed by

STEP THREE. Here we go again: But seriously, I really have absolutely nothing to tell you here, unless you want me to solve some mysteries that have totally baffled the human race, such as what is the true meaning of life, and whether there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe and which, really, is the best long-distance carrier for you. Would you like me to tell you those things? You would? OK! I will, then! But first I want to tell you exactly who was responsible for the Kennedy assassination. Ready? Here goes: The Kennedy assassination was committed by

STEP FOUR.Here we go again: But seriously, I really have absolutely nothing to tell you here, unless you want me to solve some mysteries that have totally baffled the human race, such as what is the true meaning of life, and whether there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe and which, really, is the best long-distance carrier for you. Would you like me to tell you those things? You would? OK! I will, then! But first I want to tell you exactly who was responsible for the Kennedy assassination. Ready? Here goes: The Kennedy assassination was committed by

GO BACK TO STEP ONE. Here we go again: But seriously, I really have absolutely nothing to tell you here, unless you want me to solve some mysteries that have totally baffled the human race, such as what is the true meaning of life, and whether there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe and which, really, is the best long-distance carrier for you. Would you like me to tell you those things? You would? OK! I will, then! But first I want to tell you exactly who was responsible for the Kennedy assassination. Ready? Here goes: The Kennedy assassination was committed by


But these days I just toss the instructions aside and start assembling the product. And you know what? I've found that, using nothing but my common sense and natural mechanical ability, I actually finish the assembly process faster than before! Granted, most of the time the products don't work. But they rarely worked even when I could read the instructions, so I figure I'm ahead.

And the inability to read is not the only good thing about turning 50. There's also the fact that you've reached the point in life where you accept the fact that you cannot possibly be hip.

Actually, I don't even know whether "hip" is the word for hip anymore. And I don't have to care! That's the point! Even if I knew how to talk hip, or dress hip, or listen to hip music-even if I knew everything about what currently, at this particular nanosecond in our culture constitutes hipness-I am still, on account of my age, automatically disqualified. What a relief! I'm over the Hipness Hump!

I can remember when I wasn't. There was a brief period, during my college years, when as far as I can tell, I actually was kind of hip, as measured by the standards of The Sixties. Then I went through a long, murky phase--from my 20s through my 40s--when my hipness was steadily draining away, but I would still feel a nagging obligation to participate in trends. The problem was that, as an aging person, I was no longer capable of distinguishing between the trends that were in fact hip and the ones that were just stupid.

For example, do you remember the period--I think it was during the Seventies--when some guys would turn up the collars on their sports jackets? The first time I saw this look-it was on a guy in an elevator in New York City--I thought it was a mistake, and I told the guy, as a friendly gesture, "Your jacket collar is up." He looked at me as though I were a manure-encrusted pig farmer who had just told him that ice was actually frozen water.

"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!

And those are only a few examples. There will be many more in this book, which will chart the historic, highlight-studded course of the Boomers-from the days when they wore diapers to the heady days, decades later, when, as the dominant generation of the planet's dominant nation, they are starting to wear diapers again.

Come, fellow Boomer. Take my hand, and let us travel together on a voyage of exploration into our very favorite topic, which is us. Let us examine in detail the questions of who we are, and where we came from, and where we are going. I promise you that it will be a fascinating journey. Simply read on, and we shall begin.

But first, let go of my hand, because it's really hard to type this way.

Read More

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >