Random Thoughts on Turning 55

This coming Sunday is my 55th birthday. It is an occasion for some truly random thoughts to tumble through my head.

● Given that I came of age during a couple of Arab oil embargos, I always thought of 55 as a speed limit, not an age.

● Rod Serling is one of my favorite writers. When he was my age, he had been dead for five years (with a tip of the hat to Tom Lehrer, who first told that joke about Mozart).

● What a difference five years make. I spent my 50th birthday swimming in a Tahitian lagoon. Today I’m still swimming in the debts I racked up during the downturn; in fact, I think I’m still paying off the trip to Tahiti.

● My paternal grandmother died at 101. That meant that for me, turning 50 really was middle age. Calling myself middle-aged today means I would have to live to 110.

● In a fit of morbidness, I Googled the term “dead at 55.” What an eye-opener. I knew that Robert Urich and Johnny Ramone had died that young, but not David Dukes, Wendy Wasserstein, and Mary Frann.

● On the cover story of Life magazine the day I was born was a picture of Cecil B. DeMille directing the exodus scene from The Ten Commandments. Inside was a story about Pan American Airlines giving Boeing a $269-million order for its first jet aircrafts, a group of Boeing 707s. Reading the ads I learned that Campbell’s once made frozen soups, Pillsbury once made pie crust sticks, and there was once an artificial sweetener named Sucaryl. I liked reading about the jets. The ads made my stomach queasy.

● When my father was 55, I was in college. I cannot imagine having a college-age child today. Sometimes I dream that I’m still in college.

● I wonder if there’s something numerological about turning 55, given that I was born in 1955. I am the same age as Disneyland, McDonald’s, and Kentucky Fried Chicken. Ditto Kevin Costner, Bruce Willis, and Howie Mandel. I will never have as much money as any of them.

● James Dean died three weeks before I was born. I am not his reincarnation.

● I don’t feel 55 – most days, anyway. Some days, I feel 85. Some days, I feel 25. I guess I average out.

● I am already starting to feel the aches and pains associated with age. Friends who are older assure me it is only going to get worse. I can already see incipient leatheriness in my skin. When I am old, I shall look like I grew up in California.

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About middleagecranky

The Middle-Age Cranky blog is written by baby boomer Howard Baldwin, who finds the world, while occasionally wondrous, increasingly aggravating.
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19 Responses to Random Thoughts on Turning 55

  1. chuck mcdonnell says:

    Great thoughts and reflections.
    Turned 55 a few years back.
    Wish I could remember….
    Go to my profile on FB and go to my notes. There is one there titled- Here’s a picture for you.
    Covers my feelings on turning 55 somewhat.

    • Actually, that is one facet of getting older I’m kind of looking forward to, at least in one regard. I’m excited about picking up books I’ve already read and enjoyed, not being able to remember them, and reading them again as if for the first time. Of course, there’s always the chance I’ll pick up books I hated the first time too.

      • mary kendrick says:

        love your writing. i’m turning 55 tomorrow which is weird because i’m only 35 inside. i’ve been re-reading books by accident for a long time now. it’s not so bad. by the time i get to the end of the book i can’t remember the beginning anyway. i read a lot of good books.

      • Thanks, Mary. There’s an old story that someone once said to Mark Twain, “I wish I’d never read ‘Huckleberry Finn.'” Twain understandably took umbrage until the man explained that he wished he’d never read ‘Huckleberry Finn’ so that he could have the pleasure of reading it again for the first time.

  2. Virginia says:

    My mom used to buy those pie crust sticks–they were pretty good.

    Also, by the time my dad turned 55, I’d been out of college for 10 YEARS.

  3. Judit Sarossy says:

    When I turned 55, two years ago, I already had two grandkids. My daughter finished her second degree in 2006, same time I did, but she had her first I think in 1993 when I was 40 years old. I love to be a grandma. No aches or pains yet, but a lot of whale fat grew on me over the last two years and I got the pretty drooping face!! The good part is I don’t have to spend a lot of time getting ready when I am going somewhere because there is nothing I can do about getting old. Okay I could loose weight, but then I would miss on a lot of goodies and at my age who wants to suffer?

  4. Leslie Martin says:

    I had my own 55th his year. I find I prefer not to talk about it. The worst is that when I catch a reflection in various plate glass windows or mirrors, I see my father’s mother looking back at me. Well, maybe a variant…she was really short.

  5. Derek says:

    Nice post, I especially like the research you did about people dying, living, and events related to 55. Not there yet myself, but still appropriately cranky about getting closer.

    And as far as paying off Tahiti, you’ll never regret taking that trip I bet, even if you’re paying it off ’til you hit 110!

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  7. Happy middle age birthday, Howard! See, someone agrees…50 is just about middle age now.

    Though with the new brown spots I just found by my eyes and short term memory loss both getting comfy 38 is brutal.

  8. Markus Berg says:

    Happy Birthday, Howard! Wishing you all the best. . .

  9. KAMJW says:

    Hi all, just reached middle age myself? (55). I had a bunch of BS I wanted to say, but let’s leave it at best wishes to all, and maybe I’ll see you again here.

  10. I am realizing that 55 is a pivotal number in many ways. Being born in ’55 and turning ’55 made me follow the number. You’d be surprised where it will lead you.

  11. Bevm75 says:

    Tunring 55 next month and lost in thought! I always expected that by this age that I would be settled, but not for me. Maybe because I was born in ’57??? Pondering….

  12. This one is my favorite: I don’t feel 55 – most days, anyway. Some days, I feel 85. Some days, I feel 25. I guess I average out.

  13. Mike says:

    Turning 55 on the 11th, used to be a good day to have a birthday, now I reflect, and give thanks for my daughter (5) and my wife. I feel older sometimes, achy sometimes, but also more free. Happy Birthday to all the 55’s.

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