I’ve often wondered, how old is old? 

When you’re young, “old” is pretty easy to define. But as you get older, the dial keeps moving. Forty may be old when you’re 20, but it’s not when you’re 39 and less so when you’re 50. So, how do you know “old” when you get there?

I’ve noticed that I do things that I used to associate with old people, and I don’t do most things that I associate with young people. I don’t try to prove that I can handle a skateboard. I don’t try acrobatics on a jungle gym. But I do use the grab bar in the tub and a paper calendar hanging off the refrigerator. Maybe I am old.

I decided to look for guidance on this issue and found a whole list of things old people do and things old people shouldn’t do. About half of it was hogwash. Seems there are a lot of misperceptions about us old people.

I found a list of questions titled “Things you should never ask an old person.” It seemed like an invitation to answer them. In fact, after reading them, I couldn’t understand why they’re supposedly taboo. Old people tend to be pretty candid, so go ahead and ask. 

Speaking for ancient people everywhere, we’d rather be engaged in conversation than for you to think you already know our answers. If there’s one thing we’ve got on the whipper-snappers, it’s experience. So, let’s tackle some of them:

Do you feel old? 

Some days more than others. 

Do you wish you’d had kids? I can see where that might be a sensitive question for some people, but candidness is our forte. I have three kids — one adopted, one biological and one step, so the question might be better phrased: Do you wish you’d had these kids?

Are you worried about being replaced at work? 

Not anymore. But that’s a legitimate concern for a lot of people. Corporate America has been known to target older employees who have worked their way into higher incomes. IMO (that means “in my opinion” for those who aren’t up on today’s text-style speech), that’s one reason for a lot of the anti-union “right-to-work” rhetoric. 

I’m self-employed, so I don’t have to worry about being replaced. I can only fantasize about it.

Do you regret settling down so young? 

I was 26 when I got married the first time. I’ve had seven careers so far and have lived in five different cities. So, define “settling down.” My parents’ generation was more the “settling down” set. From my perspective, staying in one place for 40 years is the better way to go.

Do you feel weird being the oldest person here? 

Depends on where “here” is. At Legoland when my daughter and niece ran off and left me alone in a field of toddlers, yes, it was awkward. You don’t go to a Chuck E. Cheese pizzeria if you don’t have a kid with you.

But anywhere else, no. If being the oldest person in the room means being the one with the most institutional knowledge and experience, it’s a place of honor and value. 

Do you worry about dying? Do you know something I don’t? Have you been talking to my doctor? I haven’t seen him in three years, so I fully expect death to have to wait another 30 years or more. 

But, as the clock ticks, I do think more about whether there’s enough money to pay off everything and who’s to inherit what trinkets I’ve accumulated. Other than that, I’m packed and ready to go. 

Did you have a color TV growing up? 

Not until about third grade. I didn’t have my own TV. We didn’t have computers. I didn’t have my own phone. I didn’t feel deprived, though, because nobody else had those things, either. 

Color TVs had been around for 10 years when I was born, and it was another 10 before we got one. Back then, people didn’t feel the need to have the newest technology. We were content with what we had; maybe you youngsters ought to think about that.

Can you still do that at your age? 

I skipped a few questions since we’re running out of room. But, yes, I can still do that. I just don’t feel the need to prove it, anymore. 

© Copyright 2019 by David Porter, who can be reached at porter@ramblinman.us. And yes, I know how to go online; we oldsters were using the internet before it was called the internet.