October 11, 2006
ON GROWING OLD
I stayed up too late Monday night to write a new column today. I'm sorry. It was either watching Denver (minus 4, and I had a big bet on Denver) or turning off the TV and writing the column. Denver won both times (Thank God they beat the spread in the last quarter and I can live to bet another day.)
I used to be able to stay up all night and write this column. Now by 3 a.m. after a night of drinking and smoking cigars, I find my self strangely pooped. That's why I dug up this old column from 1999.
ON GROWING OLD
How does one know that one is getting old?
I'm convinced that the first sign of aging isn't a slowing down of work activity or a diminished sexual appetite. I'm convinced that the first sign of aging is an uncontrollable desire to watch the History Channel.
Lately, Doctor, I find myself spending less time with the remote control gizmo and hardly ever looking at the slick late-night porn that passes for entertainment on Showtime, and more time looking at what I used to call "old people's television."
These days my body tells me I want to settle down and look at old newsreels on the History Channel and watch "Biography" on the Arts & Entertainment Channel,
Listening to music on television is out because these days, performers I've never heard of are screaming out lyrics that my ancient ears are no longer able to comprehend.
I grew up listening to rock and roll. I could understand every word of every song. Just ask me to sing "Earth Angel" the next time you see me. My rendition will bring tears to your eyes.
I understand every word of the great lyrics sung by Rod Stewart and Eric Clapton, Billy Joel and Jimmy Buffett. But the other day I wasn't able to understand even one word of the lyrics of a song my son and daughter had blasting away in their rooms.
This is a long, involved way of saying I'm finding myself retreating to late-night television at a time when the kids and my wife, the beautiful Judy Licht (who may be the only person in the world who earns a living on television and refuses to watch it), are sound asleep. Late-night television is different.
For one thing, many smart advertisers who are advertising at that time — because it's cheap — will insert code words in their commercials aimed at people my age. (This sort of works like those whistles that only dogs can hear.)
From time to time people over 50 will see a message in commercials that will be meaningful only to them. Key words like "fat-free" or "low-sodium" or "lower back pain" are used.
The night is owned by cheap commercials hawking burial insurance to 80-year-olds and exercise machines that I will buy but never use. Then there's those late-night record commercials.
I can't wait for the day when a forever-young Dick Clark will look out from the TV screen at 4 a.m. and talk to baby boomers who are turning 60 by the millions.
Can't you just hear Mr. Clark saying: "Remember back in the days when you had those giant dilated pupils that were threatening to take over your face? Remember how you would lock yourself in your room and listen to those great old Pink Floyd records and hate your parents? If you can still remember anything, write down this number, and send for Time-Life's series The Music We Played When We Thought We Ruled The World."
I must confess I send for everything that's advertised late at night. But I also must acknowledge that I never admit it when the junk arrives. You should have seen the act I put on the other day: I acted innocent and totally surprised when Judy said, "This must be a mistake. Someone just sent us a three-record collection of The Best of Bobby Vinton."
"Send it back," I said. "I hate Bobby Vinton."
It was then I made a mental note that I must make sure that in the future I open the mail before Judy . . . at least until The Best Of Frankie Avalon arrives.
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