A Child in His 60s

Maturity ain’t all it’s cracked up to be—even when nature forces it upon the hair follicles of your earlobes.

Illustration by Mark BrewerI turn 60 this month. For readers of this column, this announcement might surprise. “How can anyone so adolescent be so old?” I can hear you asking yourself.

It’s a legitimate question. After all, everyone I’ve grown up with is living a mature life in sturdy, well-maintained homes where, when things get broken, they get fixed with more permanent repairs than duct tape or Krazy Glue.

They have lawns cut in impressive diagonals, which I understand helps prevent the kinds of clumpy, spotty, Serengeti-in-drought growth patterns that characterize all the lawns I’ve ever mowed.

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They rake or blow their leaves every fall. (Thanks to the luck of a prevailing wind, my neighbors tend to take care of my leaves for me.) They caulk annually. They change the oil in their cars every 3,000 miles and can replace wiper blades without the services of a 16-year old auto parts trainee.

They mark the things they put in their freezers with dates, so that when they decide to thaw something like—I don’t know—shrimp maybe, they can tell whether it’s still good to eat or something frozen during the Carter Administration.

They have covers for their outdoor grills. (I’ve got them there, though, because I have a cover for my outdoor grill.)

They use the covers to protect their outdoor grills. (Well, um, they’ve got me there.)

They can record on their VCR while watching something else on TV. (I know this one is a cliché, because a lot of mature people can’t record while watching something else. But they, at least, had the maturity to get a DVR or TiVo and stopped trying. I, on the other hand, maintain one of the most extensive collections of blue screen videos in existence.)

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They know the Cubs will never win a World Series, just as their fathers and grandfathers before them knew.

They kept their day jobs.

In my own defense, I’ve managed to get by so far. True, it’s taken a wife who’s remained remarkably youthful in spite of the burdens I have so lovingly provided her over the years, and it has taken children who realized at a very early age (six, I think) that they needed to become self-sufficient or face adulthood believing The Three Stooges are side-splitting, bend over, roll-on-the-floor funny and that Velveeta is a vegetable.

But I have made some accommodations to my advancing years. I’ve had to. It has nothing to do with maturity, I assure you. It’s just knowing some things are going on physically that have to be acknowledged, like going to the barber and accepting that most of the work is being done in areas of the head and neck that had not previously grown hair.

Never having been one of those who is keenly aware of his surroundings, I’ve taken to double-checking to ensure I’ve put on my running shorts in the morning before jogging. And I’ll accept that if I want to stay up for “Monday Night Football” next season, I’ll have to make a stronger commitment to afternoon napping.

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But there are some constants I plan to take with me as I proceed gently into that good night, maturity or no maturity: a belief in extra-terrestrials, cheese and any movie made with a monkey in it.

Reid Champagne is happy to report that old writers never die. They just forget where they put their commas.


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