Learning through Laughter

Bob Owen, Humorist

This blog will be dedicated to sharing the humor in growing older.  Portions of my comments have appeared in print and on public radio; and I look forward to hearing about yours.  Below is what led to my creating Boomer Humor. 

Can You Believe.... What people call mature

My friend, David, asked me to create Boomer Humor - comments about mature, intelligent people who lead active vibrant lives. Actually, they way they put it - old people who insist they're energetic and demonstrate vitality. 

Think about this for a minute.  I thought about calling my sons and telling them I had been asked to write about "mature" people.  But, I hate snickering.  I particularly would have hated their comments about the "intelligent" part. 

I asked my friend, "Mature how?" 

He wasn't amused.  He knows mature when he sees it.  I don't, and that made him nervous.

He rambled on.  "You know.  Mature people- baby boomers who are getting elderly, are intelligent and like to live and have fun."  I personally don't know about this description.  Some people like to believe they lead exciting lives and have fun when they think a wild time is watching a reality TV show.  Intelligent?  Come on! 

As for having fun.  I fit that description.  Therefore, am Imature?  I'm not sure about that. So take another descriptor — baby boomer.

I certainly am a Baby Boomer.  "I am 61," I told him.  "That makes me younger than God.  Older than upper-middle age. Or maybe lower-upper elderly.  I can't know what category I am until I know my life expectancy."

My friend reckoned he might affect my life expectancy shortly.

"Mature is our age," said my wavering buddy, whom I personally know is three years older than I.   I have to think about this.

My youngest son never refers to me as being mature.  It hasn't been too long ago since he told his college roommate, "Dad swears he's going to grow up some day, but I have my doubts."  I was hurt.  I sulked and slammed his door when I left his room.  I never did tell him I was the one who short-sheeted his bed. (He thinks it was his mother.)

My friend's gray temples were pulsing by now.  And, being mature, I decided I had pushed this issue enough.

So I went to another.  "Let's talk about intelligent."   "What does intelligence have to do with leading a full life, having fun and being full of vitality?  I know many people, in fact, most of my friends, who have fun and are full of stuff and aren't necessarily quantified as intelligent."

I had never seen my friend's eyes pop out like that before.

He went on.  "Listen, forget intelligent.  Write about people who are on the go, who have a lust for life.  They are vibrant!," he exclaimed, suddenly convinced that he had just invented the word "vibrant."

"My audience is vibrant,"  I questioned.  "Bright orange and red?" 

I shouldn't have said that.  It was tacky.  It was easy.  And, it sent him over the edge.

I was riding his case.  But, I knew what he was talking about.  I am mature in my way, having reached a certain age and experience level and being able to cope with things I couldn't cope with say, 25 years ago (when I was less mature.) 

However, the point I wanted my friend to understand is that my father, at the age I am now, really was mature. Heck he was old aged when I was born. Did he like to live?  Yes.  We never discussed his preferences, but I figure liking to live was up there.  Was he intelligent?  Of course he was!  He was my father, for goodness sake. Did he have fun?  I guess he did.  I'm sure he had fun.  He laughed and he smiled and he and Mom giggled at times. Was fun to him fun to me?  Maybe no. 

Was he vibrant?  Don't get me wrong, I worshipped my Dad.  Still do. Vibrant? He may have been dark blue.  Occasionally magenta. But, vibrant? I didn't see Dad as orange or red.

His generation was different.  They had lived through World War II.  Through the depression. Through prohibition.

Think about what my generation lived through.  We lived through Elvis, through rock and roll.  We lived through the turbulent 60s, war protesters, Woodstock, campus unrest, heavy drugs. And now we're living through guns in school and terrorism.

What's the pattern here?  Dad had turbulence and we have turbulence.  But, somehow Dad always seemed to possess more stability.  From family,  from church and from the community.  We Baby Boomers find stability from the same sources, but perhaps not on the same level.  Dad found stability sometimes from within. And, we do, too. 

I think Dad appeared more mature because he was more content.   The older Dad got, the more settled he seemed.  My generation gets older, and we're still out there looking for excitement.   

When we get cabin fever in the winter, we don't make snow cream.  We strap wood on our feet and head down a mountain.  We go snorkeling in the islands during the summer.  We eat rich foods and then turn around and do hours of aerobics and jogging so we won't have to carry the extra weight.   

Dad kept the same job 40 years.  We change every few years.  When Dad was my age, he knew where he would be working tomorrow.  With downsizing, many of us are still working and wondering what we'll be doing next year.

Am I mature?  I don't care!  Am I intelligent? Sometimes.  Am I fun? Absolutely.

By now my friend was crying.  And he was scared.  I think hearing me talk about Dad, he realized I may have a heart, and he wasn't prepared for that.

I put my arm around his shoulder and said,  "Why don't I write for myself and my friends.  That should do it."

I think I heard him cry.

Date of Blog Story: 
September 5, 2007 Early

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