Friday, November 12, 2010

"When I'm Sixty-Four"

You know the song - it's by the Beatles. It begins, "When I get older losing my hair, many years from now..." It was released in 1967 which was the year I turned 21. So yes, "many years from now" semed entirely accurate. Being 64 seemed to be a lo-o-o-ong time away; in fact I don't think I could even imagine being 64 - that's REALLY OLD, right?

Well, somebody must have hit the "fast forward" button on the cosmic clock because now 1967 doesn't seem that long ago and all of a sudden I'll turn 64 on my next birthday - not that far away, as a matter of fact. The good news is, I still have all my hair (it has been rumored that there is a bald spot on the back of my head, but I can't see it so I deny its existence.) The bad news is, I'M GOING TO BE SIXTY-FREAKIN'-FOUR! Well, maybe that's not really bad news considering the alternative, but you know what I mean.

When I was 21 I graduated from college (UMO) and, it being 1968 by then and with the "police action" in Viet Nam escalating on a daily basis it was a pretty sure bet that I would be drafted into the Army (there was no mandy-pandy lottery system in 1968 - when you lost your student exemption your ass was going to be drafted into the Army!) So I did something that seemed like a good idea at the time: I signed up for a job in Military Intelligence, because that was as far away from the Infantry as I thought I could get (no offense to Infantrymen - it's an important, difficult and extremely dangerous job, especially in 1968.) And I have to say that as life-decisions go, that one worked out pretty well since I wound up with a pretty interesting job, in an area where nobody was shooting at me every day, and it actually was the start of a career path that served me pretty well for the next 35 years.

I was only 25 when I got off active duty, my whole adult life was still ahead of me, and 64 still seemed to be an eternity away. Well guess what, dear reader - 39 years is NOT an eternity! The job market in 1971 pretty much sucked (why does that sound so familiar?) so I spent a year job hunting and doing the kind of things that 25 year-olds did in the early seventies. I was married by then (for the first-, but definitely not the last-time) and we moved to Freeport so she could work in Portland.

In 1972 I got a job with the IRS - and that turned into a career that lasted for more than 30 years (32, to be exact.) And throughout that whole time I lived in Freeport, and I had what I guess was a pretty successful career considering that I only accepted jobs within commuting distance. I have to say that as I look back on my career it's all pretty much a blur. I'm sure there were some memorable moments but for the most part it's all just a fuzzy recollection, and that's probably a good thing. When I retired in the Spring of 2004 I was 57, and the prospect of being 64 still seemed pretty remote - 7 years is still a long time, right? By then I was married to wife number 4, and the prospects for a long and happy retirement (say what you will about government service - the retirement plan is sweet!) were looking good.

Then in 2006 (I think - I told you it's all a little fuzzy) I found myself suddenly single again, still living in Freeport with three dogs (the subject of an earlier post), a couple of cats and my younger son Alex. And that's the status quo in November, 2010 - except Alex has gone off to college (UMO, bless his little heart) and my 64th birthday is 10 days away - THAT does not seem like a long time!

So I guess I have to ask, before it's too late, the question that ends the song: "Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I'm sixty-four?"

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