The name of this blog is the headline for a major article in today's NYTimes, the Week in Review section. The writer is a little hung up on the fact that Ringo Starr just turned 70 and will be playing at Radio City Music Hall soon and that other big music stars like Dylan and even Mick Jagger are in the Big 7-0 range. Is this, asks the writer, Kate Zernile, what it means to be in your 8th decade? Yes, Ms. Zernike, if you're a major rock star that seems to be what it's about -- if the drugs, booze and crazy living haven't done you in yet. And, as you might notice in the Times Magazine today there's an interview with Hugh Heffner who is proud of his role in the sexual revolution and who claims [at 84 and looking fit] to have sex about twice a week, with a little help from Viagra -- well, hey, why not? They don't kill endangered great animals [like tigers] to make Viagra. The "act your grandchild's age" mentioned sky diving -- no mention of George H. Bush who celebrates birthdays by jumping out of airplanes. Well, most of us aren't ex-presidents and don't have young whippersnapper ex-presidential sons to impress, but many of us are able to do some of the things our grandchildren can do -- run marathons, participate in walkathons, bikeathons and we are likely to wear tee shirts and jeans and even baseball caps and some of us have the bad taste to load our conversation with four lettered words.
However, Ms. Zernike has done some research that I appreciate. She says that in the mid-1800s Americans first experienced what is called "the legitimazation" of longevity." That was at a time when most people did not live much beyond 45. But they began to realize that living to as much as 85 might be a possibility. Which indeed is increasingly a possibility for Americans. In fact, some years ago the country was ripening so many centarians that morning show newsman, Willard Scott, had to stop annoucing all the 'Happy birthdays" to newly turned 100 year olds.
I will come back to more of this article tomorrow. On a personal note I just spent the afternoon with two women I consider much senior to me. One is 85 and the other 90; they are in full possession of their faculties, physically active, attractive and good company. And the 85 year old is a very good driver. I just read of a woman in the Russian state of Georgia who claims to be 130, which would make her the oldest woman in the world -- except revolutions and wars in Russia have destroyed public records that go back into the 1800s so she can't prove how old she is. ... more on this subject probably tomorrow.
The mid-70s are a surprise! Part of me remains in the 50s -- age, I mean, not decade of 20th century. It's a joy ride, new experiences land in my lap and I've become a better quilter, poet, writer than I expected. It's a rich life for a person never rich financially. Hey, this is what the mid-70s are like!