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Fifty minus one and counting

Posted: March 28, 2014 10:02 a.m.
Updated: March 31, 2014 5:00 a.m.

In 362 days, I will be 50 years old. That means I am already three days into my 50th year of life. In other words, Friday was my 49th birthday.

(Please, hold the applause; you’re embarrassing me.)

I have almost a split personality about being 49. In my brain, my psyche, I’m still in my 20s ... OK, maybe early 30s ... listening to most of the same kind of music, watching most of the same kind of TV shows and movies, reading most of the same kind of books. As I have most of my life, I get along with young people (the age my brain thinks I am) as well as people my own age and up. Heck, I even get along with most kids my kids’ age. It would seem, therefore, that I have yet to turn into that grumpy old man who tells kids to get off his lawn.

On the other hand, my body loves to trick me into thinking I’m much older than 49. I’m still dealing with neck and back pain from my accident last August. Although I’ve still got to consult with a few people, there’s a possible surgical procedure that might help alleviate that pain. Back at the end of January, I contracted Type A flu. This particular strain loves to leave you with a cough -- that I still have after nine weeks, although it is getting better. I have a bad left knee that never quite took to some arthroscopy a few years ago nor the physical therapy I undertook afterward. (Mind you, I’m terrible about doing PT at home, so it’s probably my own fault).

Of course, I was born deaf in one ear and am hard of hearing in the other (from all my years as a radio announcer), so I tend to do a lot of old-man “huh? what’d you say?” while cupping my good ear. And on top of that, I have so much sci-fi/fantasy trivia (especially Star Trek) in my brain, that I can’t seem to remember where I left that really nice pen I like to use.

Forty-nine? Is that all?

Actually, that’s what a lot of people have said to me during the last few days. Seems I’m still a baby compared to some people. They seem to almost take offense at how young I am. And, I suppose, in a way, that’s true. After all, I have no memories of World War II or the Korean War. I didn’t actually watch, live on TV, as Edward R. Murrow eviscerated (figuratively, of course) Sen. Joseph McCarthy. I was never a greaser, didn’t get to vote for Eisenhower, and never had a car with fins.

For that matter, despite being born in 1965, I either never experienced or only learned later on about President Kennedy’s assassination, Marilyn Monroe’s death, Elvis entering the army, an American spy plane being shot down, the Chicago 7, The Beatles invasion, women’s bouffant hairstyles, go-go boots or Nehru jackets.

No, for me, life really began in the 1970s as I discovered the aforementioned Star Trek in repeats after returning from Kabul, Afghanistan, and before heading off to Guadalajara, Mexico. In between (1971), my father took my sister and I, along with a girlfriend of his, on a cross-country trip in a camper. Not an RV, as was popular then, but a camper shell welded on to the back and top of a pick-up truck. It was actually a pretty cool trip with stops in such notable places as St. Louis, Mo. (the Arch!), Washington State (snow in summer!), Los Angeles (Disneyland!), the Rocky Mountains (ooooh!) and even Las Vegas (huh?).

I remember gas shortages, Elvis’ death and, the coming of the massive Hollywood empire that is Star Wars. There was disco, bellbottoms (although I can’t remember wearing any), and the Bicentennial.

The 1980s is when I began to grow up. From 1979 to 1982, I lived on Saipan, the principal island of the U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. That’s where I started my radio career, playing requests and dedications for my high school classmates. I started college at Syracuse, transferred to Memphis and continued my radio career there and on to a small town in northern Georgia called Dahlonega.

 I was always a reader, especially of sci-fi and fantasy. During the 1980s, I began truly diving in to JRR Tolkien’s world of Middle Earth (hobbits, dwarves and Gandalf, oh my!). I was a member of the Science Fiction Book Club, using what little money I earned to order gobs of books to pore through. I collected comic books, too, and went to movie theaters to enjoy more Star Trek, Star Wars, but also Tootsie, Arthur, E.T., Beverly Hills Cop, Back to the Future. On TV, Knight Rider, The Cosby Show, The Wonder Years, Magnum P.I., Bosom Buddies (Tom Hanks!), Who’s The Boss, Mork & Mindy and The Facts of Life. Oh, and don’t forget Fantasy Island and The Love Boat. (Good grief.)

The 1990s is when my true adult life began. I moved here to the Midlands and eventually met my wife. Fourteen years ago, I joined the C-I and adopted the first of my two sons, the other one less than a year later. Since then, I’ve been on a roller-coaster of parenthood and journalism that I don’t intend to get off of anytime soon.

It’s been a good 49 years and, hopefully, the 50th will be, too. I expect there’ll be some changes -- perhaps massive ones; you never know.

What I do know is that I’m looking forward to as many of the next 49 years as I can, including the big 5-0 a year from now.

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