Thursday, July 22, 2010

Boomers in age denial

By S. Derrickson Moore
LAS CRUCES— We never figured we’d get old.
Sometimes I wonder if we Baby Boomers were the first generation to think that way.
I don’t recall my parents or grandparents ever spouting nonsense like “50 is the new 30” or “80 is the new 40.”
If you carry that strange premise to its logical conclusion, and you live long enough, you should eventually become a teenager again. Or, as one wag put it, “Dead is the new 75.”
Personally, I’ve been doing my best to avoid thinking about what high school reunion year this could be, but with the advent of Facebook and Twitter and assorted other relentless online options, you can run (if your knees and joints are still holding up) but you can’t hide.
It’s not like it was in the olden days, when I could simply ignore the newsletters, if they managed to find me, in scattered countries, states and territories, far away from the mitten-shaped peninsula where I was born.
Or they’d enclose a little card, and you could politely send your regrets and be done with it.
All of a sudden, from the vast outer limits of cyberspace, I’m being bombarded with messages from what seem like a bunch of relentless strangers.
I’m from a big class in a big high school, and though some of us were a pretty close-knit group from K through 12, I find myself frankly baffled by a lot of the friendly messages.
A lot of my old amigos have married and changed names, including the guys. In the 60s and 70s, there was a lot of egalitarian hyphenation going on, so the friends I knew as Suzy Smith and Joe Jones might now be Suzy Smith-Chavez, and Joe Jones-Steinmetz. Our generation has a tendency to divorce and remarry a lot. What if Suzy and Joe both found themselves single and hooked up at a previous reunion and what if, say, for professional reasons or for the kids, they both wanted to keep their names? So they’re now Susan and Joseph Smith-Chavez-Jones-Steinmetz.
Who the heck are you? Do I know you? Did I ever?
And who can forget the ethnic pride movement that surged through our generation, leading many of us to research our roots and meander back to Ellis Island and other immigration records to see if there were any accommodating or forced name changes. We could stick it to the man by going back to the original surname or a likely-sounding moniker that better reflects our values and beliefs. Thus Cassius Clay became Muhammad Ali.
The whole ethic identity transformation thing was a little tougher in my mostly WASPish high school, where the majority of us sprung from ancestors in the British Isles or Scandinavian countries.
But we’re an inventive lot. I recently heard from one of our class’s most talented musicians. I knew him as Eric Johnson. But I’ll admit Erik Johanson looks better on a marquee. Power to the Swedish-Americans!
But no matter how much we protest, we really can’t change the march of time. Facebook makes it crystal clear that our faces —and all the rest of our parts — are not 18 anymore.
Ringo just turned 70, after all.
But the Beatles, of course, were really in a different generation— the age of our big sisters and brothers — and we’d like to stress that they were way, way older than we were — in their 20s when we were still in our teens.
And Ringo still looks pretty good, so maybe we Boomers, who frankly look much younger that our parents did at our age, will look even better when we get to Ringo’s age.
Maybe 60 is the new 22.
And maybe denial will segue seamlessly into senility and we’ll never have to face up to the fact that we’re old.

S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at; (575) 541-5450. To share comments, go to and click on Blogzone and Las Cruces Style.

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