Two American classics — Woody Allen and Katherine Hepburn — help bracket my life for me. Referring to one’s early years, Woody hit the nail on the head: “Confidence is what you have before you understand the problem.” Alluding to one’s later years, Hepburn pounded the nail in: “If you survive long enough, you are revered; rather like an old building.”
Lately there are many more old buildings staying around. Centenarians are our fastest growing age group. Then, in their eighties and nineties, we also have Betty White, Tony Bennett, Kirk Douglas, Andy Griffith, Yogi Berra, Christopher Plummer, Harper Lee, Gore Vidal, Henry Kissinger, Nelson Mandela and the Justin Bieber of old age Hugh Hefner.
Not only are Americans living longer, we are celebrating them more. Unlike the days of the crazy-old-aunt-living-in-the-attic, age has come into fashion. I myself can testify to this fact every time old people open doors and give up their seats to me. Me who is himself no more than…oh wait! At 80 I rather look like 90, so I can see what they were thinking
The pop media love to dig up wrinkled survivors for the obligatory “what’s your secret” interviews. Which is perfectly lovely, When and if my opportunity comes, I have a theoretical answer (theoretical as in I-believe-it-but-just-don’t-much-practice-it): Patience.
With age comes patience, because by now you’ve learned there is actually no other option that works. Take the report about the impatient San Francisco driver last month who decided to swerve around a lane of cars that had come to a standstill. In a fury, he drove his Porsche 911 into the next lane which he discovered was freshly poured cement. His car sank a foot, got stuck, and watched the next 300 cars pass him by!
Now you see, at my age I would have known better. Being too life-tested for such nonsense, I would made sure I was driving a domestic….
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