Tonawanda News

December 14, 2012

Like you want advice from the elderly

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The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — My boss at this publication, the Lou Grant of the place, is currently involved in an exercise in soul-searching, or maybe it’s just whining. Having recently achieved the age of 30, he is evidently taking it as an opportunity to ponder the mysteries of a life well-lived, and make the necessary course corrections, whatever and how many there may be.

I did the same thing at 30, and again at 40 and 50. Fifty was the most enjoyable and at the moment of hitting 60, I was having so much fun it did not occur to me to adjust much.

The most popular television program on earth, at the present time, is named “Top Gear,” a long-running British program wherein three men, roughly a decade apart in age, mess with cars, driving all over that sceptered isle and engaging in hijinks and lowjinks with the understanding they are of the people who brought the world Monty Python. It’s that kind of program (available in Ken-Ton on cable television), and like the old Benny Hill Show, makes no effort to remove the uniquely British aspects of its various presentations to make the show easier to understand.

To me, this is bringing it all back home. I was an Anglophile in my youth, a fan of anything English, and remain so. The Beatles. The Who. British accents, the variety of them. If the names Emma Peel and John Steed mean anything to you, you will understand how this sort of thing can warp a guy for life.

Those cars they drive out there; I bought a wreck of an Austin-Healey sports car, years ago, and with money, time, money, talent, money, energy and money, turned it into a wreck of an Austin-Healey.

When the urge to try it again overtakes me, I buy an English car magazine, browse through it and the feeling subsides.

I have visited Britain a number of times as a tourist, remain in love with Scotland despite no connection to the place, have a favorite soccer team but a lack of interest in soccer. I value the eccentric in life, and it’s because I was a bloody Anglophile when I was young.

That’s why “Top Gear” is such a joy to me, an inexpensive way to indulge and reinforce some of the more pleasant aspects of my personal past, and it offers a clue to why growing older can offer joys no one tells you about.

Whatever age you are, you’re every age you’ve ever been. It is said you’re only young once but you can be immature forever, and I am learning it’s true (it’s why 50-year-old men get away with wearing Mickey Mouse sweatshirts. It’s unlikely their fathers or grandfathers did at that age).

More than you or I might expect, I’ve been in the position of counseling women hitting age 30, and advise them they are crossing a threshold from pretty girl to beautiful woman, so stop complaining and start acting like it. All that stuff you cared about, you can still care about, and there’s a boatload more coming to enjoy and appreciate.

The Apostle Paul, in his first epistle to the Corinthians (13:11), advises “When I became a man I put away childish things.” Paul did not live in 21st century America.

Oh, you can put away childish things, but put them somewhere in your attic or memory you can find them. Those moments not devoted to worry or overwork, bring them out again, to refresh and remind yourself you have a past with accessible memories. You’ve got the maturity now to decide how best to engage them (e.g., rebuild a sports car, hell no; watch a trio of knucklehead Brits cavort around England in Jaguars, wisecracking all the way in a manner I occasionally have, yes). 

We think we live in a disposable culture, but note how easy it is to conjure up and hold the past aspects of our lives. I hope young Mr. Editor Turning 30 realizes the validity, no matter how trivial, of all the stuff in his life that got him to where he is now. As sportscaster Curt Gowdy used to say, he has his whole future ahead of him, but allow me to remind him, he has his whole past behind him. I hope he revels in it.

Just wait until he hits 50, when all those old Sinatra songs suddenly make sense.

Ed Adamczyk is a Kenmore resident whose column appears Fridays in the Tonawanda News. Contact him at EdinKenmore@gmail.com.