Life begins at 40, or 50 or…
The magazine was called “50 Plus.”
For active seniors.
Published in the mid to late ’80s by the man who gave me my first job in journalism, George Benninger.
I was hired to write for George’s main venture, Insight on Collectibles. Based in Durham, Ontario and devoted to collector plates, Hummel and Royal Doulton figurines and wildlife art prints.
After a year or so I became the editor. I was in control. It gave me the freedom to follow my instincts and desires and in the latter case that meant falling in love with the photo of a wildlife artist and driving 50 miles or more to her home studio for an interview.
Just an interview. My Cinemax fantasies did not become reality.
I wrote a profile on Liz Lesperance, and George was able to sell an ad to her distributor.
George was in his early 40s at the time. I was 26 and 50 seemed so far away and age is relative. There’s a young lady two flights above me who, when she was 10 or so, would call out to me. I’m friends with her Mom. But when she hit 13 or so it was like, “I don’t know that old guy.”
No worries. We’ve all done that. You get to a certain age and anyone 20 years older is really damn old.
At the ripe old age of 56, I’ve gone from beyond the youngest to the oldest, at least in terms of baseball. At 27, I was the “baby” on a coed slowpitch team with an average age of 35.
Now, I’m 20 or 30 years older than the players on my slowpitch and fastpitch teams. And, connecting with the ball as often or more often than they do. You may lose speed and strength as you age but hand-eye coordination does not deteriorate with age.
Says this once 30-ish tennis player who lost matches to guys twice his age.
Someday I will be on the other side of that equation. They figured out my weaknesses. I just bashed the ball and wondered why I was down 4-1 and not able to crush my two-handed backhand past him enough to win the match.
My Mom is 92. She sings in a group that performs in local nursing homes and there is my dear old Mother belting it out before an audience of immobile folks in wheelchairs, many in their 70s or 80s.
Mom did not end up where they are. Could be genetics. Clean living. The luck of the draw.
I’ve been very lucky.
Aside from high blood sugar, inherited from my Dad, I’ve been super healthy . That Type 2 diagnosis 5 years ago became my challenge. Cut out a lot of sugar and salt, lower my blood sugar level from 6.5 to 5.9, lost 25 pounds.
I haven’t had a Coke in 5 years. I used to love Coke and Dr. Pepper. Diet sodas suck ass. More fruits and vegetables. More salmon.
I will never be a senior.
I will never be categorized, unless that category is guys in their mid-50s with sex appeal, charm and wit.
A few yeas back I was part of a coed slowpitch team in Barrie and, after a few post-game beers in the parking lot, the conversation moved to my unattached situation and the chances of me finding love with a younger woman and….God bless Laura…she said, “Oh Johnny, I could totally see you with a young hottie.’
Fuck age. Fuck numbers. I’m John. Blue eyes. Good hands and reflexives. Big heart. Lover of birds, Beatles, red wine and slugging it out like Jimmy Connors in his prime. Or when he was 39 and made the semi finals of the US Open.
Our population is aging and living a lot longer than previous generations. The other day, I caught Howard Stern’s interview with former Van Halen members Sammy Hager (71) and Michael Anthony (64) and Anthony talked about his father seeming so old back in the day. Barely moving.
We are not our parents our grand parents. 50 Plus could mean another 50 years so cheers to all of us.