I'm 52 years old.
I think it's ridiculous that AARP calls me a senior. But I'm certainly old enough to remember:
• Eight-track tape players in our cars (which was the stupidest idea known to man because they always jammed);
• Rotary dial phones (which were a drag when you had to be the eighth caller for the radio station giveaway and you were just told you were the sixth);
• When cell phones belonged only to the rich and powerful and were about the size of a man's shoe;
• When video games were limited to the primitive Pong or Pacman;
• The day a human being first set foot upon the moon, Vietnam, Watergate and the fall of the Berlin Wall;
• When the only way you could get daily national (or state) news was by tuning (no digital TVs nor cable TV) into your black and white set and listening to Walter Cronkite's CBS Evening News or one of his contemporaries;
• If you wanted a top 40 song you had to record it over the airwaves, or buy the 45 single and play it on the home turntable;
• If you wanted to take photos you had to buy film, stick it in your camera, shoot it all up, take it to a film processor, wait a few days and then hope you focused properly.
• If you wanted to communicate with distant relatives you generally wrote letters since calling long distance was too costly.
• If you wanted to keep up with family you got your face out of a book and drove to their house before the days of Facebook.
Life has improved in some ways but not in others. Just ask someone older than me who remember when ice boxes actually required you putting ice in them or those who had to wash clothes by hand and hang them on a line. Or to make a telephone call you had to drive to the country store and drop a dime.
What I find mind-boggling is how fast life seems to be zipping along with no regard for anyone or anything.
Blame it on my kids. The oldest turns 30 next year.
Blame it on my grandmother, who is turning 94 in two Saturdays.
My parents are both 73 and don't look nor act the way they did when they were raising me in the 1960s and 1970s.
It's not me. I'm not getting older. No way, not me. (Yeah, who am I fooling? My hair is graying at the sides and I cannot read a thing without reading glasses.)
Blame it also on Gordon Lightfoot. Oh he did it alright.
It was him.
I caught Lightfoot's sold-out show at the Gallo Center in Modesto on Sept. 30 and wondered just who that old man - an imposter - was on stage trying to sing the beloved Gordon Lightfoot tunes that I used to listen to on our stereo turntable. Years of smoking and aging and medical problems has made Lightfoot a shadow of what he used to be musically and physically. It was painful to watch him grimace - as if in pain - when he hit high notes in, "Sundown, you better take care if I find you've been creepin' ‘round my back stairs..." He sounded like an old man trying to sing like Gordon Lightfoot.
Wow, have that many years flown by to reduce one of my childhood musical favorites to this?
I don't know why I should be so shocked. I can remember being in an utter state of shock when I saw REO Speedwagon at the Stanislaus County Fair in 2007 and saw a bunch of gray-haired old men rocking out to songs that young rockers put out when I was in high school.
You know who else makes me feel old? Paul McCartney, 71, or Mick Jagger, 70, take your pick. I won't even bring up Dolly Parton, 67, or Kenny Rogers, 75, or Cher, 67, who have all tried to stay looking young with Botox and facelifts and look like wax figures. Don't get me wrong - Dolly is still a beautiful lady but she is 67 beautiful and not the beefy boxum beauty in her 30s. And Rogers hardly resembles the entertainer I saw with the Fifth Dimension singing on stage at Knotts Berry Farm in 1972 and even the actor on the Gambler II film set in Jamestown in 1983. At least Lightfoot has decided to let age take over without surgical intervention.
It doesn't help that Glen Campbell - whom I interviewed backstage at the 1986 County Fair when he had darker hair - now looks like maybe his father instead of that youthful guy who hosted the "Good Time Hour" from 1969 to 1972. But then again, Campbell's singing days are over since he suffers from Alzheimer's Disease.
We'll never get to see senior citizen John Denver ridiculously deliver his trademark "Far out!" cry like he did in the days of Rocky Mountain High. Nor will we get to see Michael Jackson break a hip trying to do a moon walk at age 76. Nor will we see a wrinkled Dan Fogelberg on tour as an octogenarian singing "Leader of the Band." We'll never know what songs John Lennon might have written had he not died senselessly in 1980 at the hands of a deranged fan.
Time has a way of doing everyone in.Clint Eastwood is no longer the virile tough guy on screen. His delivery at the Republican National Convention last year tells us what the aging process can do to even the toughest among us. Even John Wayne was taken out by cancer. A heart attack on a Spanish golf course ensured that Bing Crosby would croon for us no more.
No more Bob Hope Christmas specials like I remember as a kid. I held the door open for him as he walked into a 1988 Modesto Centre Plaza news conference only to watch him stumble over a question repeated three times only to waive it off to bad hearing.
It's hard to see our favorite performers succumb to the effects of time. Even worse is seeing the same happen to our loved ones. But thankfully there is one thing that we can count on: their movies, recordings and the memories that we all hold.
So when I saw a John Denver CD in the bargain bin at the Ceres Walmart, I grabbed it, knowing I'd get more than $5 worth of memories out of it. Boy did I. As I listen to his beautiful voice sing to his creative lyrics and guitar strums, I am suddenly 15 years old again and everything seems as though it is the same and right with the world. It's as if time has not passed.
To quote Frank Sinatra, "No they can't take that away from me."
How do you feel? Let Jeff know at email@example.com