Friday Firesmith – Old Folks Zone

Today (Friday) is my fifty-eighth birthday. At this point in my life I can retire in two years, which seems really weird because until I was employed by the entity that pays me now, I had never held a job for over a year in my life. I’ll retire with twenty-eight years in.

I have a vague memory of a birthday party when I was a little kid, four or five years old, maybe, and I remember turning ten years old because I was in double digits. Ten was a milestone and I felt older. My friend Mark, who was a year younger than I, came over and we walked around talking about what it meant to reach ten years old. We were serious. We spoke of having memories that were six and seven years old, and if we would remember being ten. I remember turning thirteen, because I was a teenager then, and I remember sixteen because I could drive.

I turned eighteen in 1978, and I bought a case of beer, legally, right after school, and took my girlfriend home. We stopped and parked in the woods and I will always remember that. I got home really late, my father was totally pissed, and I listened to Alice Cooper’s “Eighteen” over and over again. It felt incredible. She’s a grandmother now, still married to someone else, and I still stalk her Facebook page on occasion.

At twenty I had a seven-gallon keg strapped down in a backpack and walked around giving away free beer. At twenty-five, I was in a hotel room in Mississippi, and at thirty I was with a friend of mine, a much younger woman, who was more freaked out over me being thirty than I was.

Time began to pass more quickly as I got older and there were fewer and fewer milestones and fewer reasons to mark them, really. I was married at forty and divorced by forty-three. Some friends surprised me with a small gathering at fifty, and after that, birthdays seem to pile up, like unfolded laundry sitting in the corner of the room.

I had a tradition of drinking good Scotch on my birthdays, but I really like Scotch more than I should, so I avoid it these days. I used to call old friends on my birthday but they are becoming fewer and fewer. One of them is a great grandfather now. I suspect he will be again one day, but because he smokes, his time will be much more limited than it might otherwise be.

At fifty-eight, I find myself caring less and less about more and more. I’ve lost interest in sports to a level I never thought possible. I don’t care as much about politics as I once did. I read more these days, write more, and I love my dogs. Both my parents are still alive, but I haven’t spoken to my father in nearly a year now, and I may not ever again. I have come to terms with this. It is as it is. I’ve learned to jettison toxic people and toxic relationships and never look back.  That may be the most important thing I have learned in fifty-eight years.

PS My co-workers have a sense of humor, they do.

Take Care,

Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit.
Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.

40 thoughts on “Friday Firesmith – Old Folks Zone”

  1. Happy 58th you are a mere pup. 60 seems way too young to retire, is that the retiring age in the US? Used to be 65 here when I retired, depending on year of birth it is now 67 before eligible for Old age pension….There is talk of it going to 70.
    Enjoy any celebrations coming your way. Cheers

  2. Happy Birthday to you.
    Happy Birthday to you.
    Happy Birthday dear Mi-ike.
    Happy Birthday to you.
    I supplied the words.
    I bet you (any everyone reading this) supplied the music.
    I hope you have a terrific day.

  3. Well Happy Birthday to you. Have a great one as you’ll never be 58 again but you still have so much in front of you. Yes, retire at 60 if you can. I just retired at 67 and wish I could have done it sooner. Carpe Diem and every Diem from now on!

  4. Happy Birthday Mike. If your are able to retire and devote more time to your writing, I will be here to read it. Love your columns.

  5. 58 is close to, “get-off-my-lawn-ya-whippersnappers” territory.
    I’m sure the puppies will be up for a party tonight.

    Retirement? As I recall it felt better than layoff, and a whole lot better than fired.

  6. Mike–happy birthday! May the best of this year be the worst of the next.

    Or more to our humor: may your coffin be made out of 100-year-old oak trees–planted tomorrow.

  7. Happy birthday to you, Mike. I too, have learned some of those lessons. I’ll be fifty in January. It’s hard to believe the time passed so quickly. Like you, I care not for the booze any longer, it seems to care not for me as well. Once in a while a good cold beer sounds appealing, I rarely act on that either. Cheers to you, my friend.

  8. Just a few years behind ya… I remember drinking legally at 18.. my sister is 11 months younger than I am and they were raising the drinking age just after my birthday, she was so annoyed that I could drink legally at 18 but she had to wait until she turned 21…

    Although it didn’t really make much difference; hardly anyone bothered to check back then.

    • Keith, I was buying beer at age sixteen. No one really cared at all, and even drinking and driving wasn’t a big deal at all. Somehow, everything got really weird in a hurry and suddenly drinking and driving totally disappeared. I know it’s a good thing, but I had some good times on those dirt roads in Early County Georgia. Most of them are paved now.

  9. The more birthdays you have, the longer you live Mike. May your life be filled with many dogs, joy, prosperity, and blessings. Cheers on your birthday! 🙂

  10. Happy Birthday Mike. I am a few years behind you too. (54) I remember occasions over the years also but not too many in the last few years. Time does not stop for anyone. Keep on writing😄😄

  11. Funny thing about childhood memories; I once told my mother that I recalled an event that happened when I would have been about 4. She gave me a strange look and asked for more details. So I told her all about it. Turns out, the incident happened to my older brother, not me! I was there, but as a witness. Obviously it affected me so greatly at the time, I felt that I was the ‘victim’, not him!
    Hope your birthday is full of smiles, good times, great memories and lots of laughter! May the year ahead bring warmth, happiness and whatever joyful adventures you’re wishing for!

    • Lady Di,
      I have very often wondered if some of my memories are someone else’s. I remember things that happened when I was an infant but it doesn’t seem possible, yet there they are.

  12. 58? I remember 58… those were my pre-cane days! Face it Mike, you’ll never be younger than you are today. I understand the desire to close the door on people who’ve annoyed you, but sometimes it’s fun just to rattle the handle! I hope you stay healthy and happy for the next 58! — If I hadn’t given up drinking years ago, I might be tempted to raise a toast to you with some nice French wine (Jacques Daniels) Cheers! – J

  13. Happy Birthday you have me beat by a few days. 58 for me is in January, so yeah, I can relate. Just remember: A man reaches a certain age where he doesn’t want to fight with anyone – and if forced to, he will not fight fair. He will not quit and there are no weapons he will not use. it is best to leave him alone with his Coffee, Bourbon, or if you prefer, Rum, Tequila, or single malt Scotch and Cigars. Don’t poke the old men. They will hurt you.

    Also, Fear the one who is old in a young man’s profession.

    I should also add I am not a parent and I don’t regret that one either.
    Take care.


Comments are closed.