Monday, October 11, 2010

Searching for a fountain of youth

One of the advantages of being childless is that you can, to perhaps a greater extent than your fruitful friends, deny the aging process. There are no pesky offspring around, zooming from kindergarten to college practically overnight, to remind you that you’re not as young as you used to be.
Instead, we the childless are forced to rely on external cues to remind us that we’re getting old.

Some of these external cues are our own parents, and the parents of our friends, who suddenly are showing unmistakable signs of aging by celebrating 80th birthdays, buying Buicks and having cataracts removed. Some of these cues are the children of our fruitful friends, particularly those children for whom we bought baby gifts just a year or so ago who are now visiting colleges (!) to decide which they want to attend. Some of these cues are the children of strangers, who are now our own impossibly young doctors, lawyers and police officers.

And some of these cues are provided by our own bodies, which have begun to betray us with slowing reflexes, mysterious aches, gray hairs, wrinkles and injuries that are far slower to heal than the injuries of our youth.

My first major external cue was graduate school and a class taught by Perry Parks, who not only was younger than I was (the only time in my academic career that happened to me) but had an unfortunate tendency to ask the class questions like, “How many of you remember Watergate?” that only he and I could respond to in the affirmative.

I’ve acknowledged other cues since then—brown hairs still outnumber gray, but the gray’s there, and there are a couple of age spots on the top of my right hand that annoy the hell out of me—but I’ve taken them all in stride.

Until today.

When I ordered my first pair of bifocals.

It’s all downhill from here, right?

And another thing!

The people have spoken (or written), and it shall be so: Jef and I will share the blog, two days each, starting next week.

Stay tuned…


Tim R said...

Sharing the blog. Good idea. May I be so bold as to make a suggestion? The admin of the blog (Jef in this case) can add a second person (Pat). In this way she can log in with her own name and the blog will appear with her name instead of Jef's. Then your dear readers will know who said what.

veloben said...

Tim R has a good idea, but the current confusion keeps one young, younger, youngish (?) by requiring some thought on 'who said what'.

Liz said...

My parents, both massively nearsighted, got laser eye correction in midlife. Part of my (very conservative) father's motivation to get the surgery was his developing need for bifocals, which he absolutely, positively refused to get. He'd worn thick prescription glasses all his life, but apparently he drew the line at bifocals.

Now he just has cheap reading glasses, and loses them all the time.

Netagene said...

LOL! Le'see ... bifocs when I was early 40s, hair's still got a lot of brown (if I cut it, it will be mostly gray 'cause the new coming in is gray), no problems with cataracts 'til my retinas detached (late 50s) ... still miss my Honda motorcycle which I had in my 40s ... Mother's 93 and still mentally sharp, so at 66, I guess I'm still young?


And while I'm at it, the last couple of days, neither browser (IE or Firefox) will open Jef's site ... and a friend is having the same problem. Help! What gives?

Patty Mallett said...

There should be no confusion -- yet -- on who said what. Right now, it's all me.

Jef and I both like Tim's idea, and we're considering it (along with a few other fun possibilities) so there will be no confusion once Jef returns and we're sharing this space.

Patty Mallett said...

Oh -- and not sure what gives with the browser glitches. (Maybe Tim R. can help?)

Netagene said...

Sorry Patty, but this is to Liz - hope it's OK! Liz, I went totally blind in one eye while driving to work 12/15/98 - no warning at all. Five years later, my other retina detached. Doctors got my left eye back to seeing light, dark, motion - 9 operations. Right retina didn't mess up as badly so I again have a good bit of usable sight with it after 6 operations. I lack depth perception and peripheral vision. About all I can't do anymore is drive, and in a pinch (say, if my driver passed out at the wheel), I'm 99% positive that I could at least take the wheel and safely get us off the road. And I have a 40% hearing loss in one ear! Check me out at


Patty Mallett said...

Totally OK, Netagene!

La Professora said...

Gave myself a small pause last month when I realized that for my 18-year-old students the attacks on the World Trade towers happened half their lifetime ago.

So I take the point of view that I'm not getting older -- the freshmen are getting younger.

Dave Shaw said...

I don't think I can post the image of a strip that ran a couple of years ago, but here's the dialog. I keep it around to remind me about how to handle the passage of time.
Mr. Spaetzle: What do you want to be when you grow up?
Child: I don't know. Thirty?
Mr. Spaetzle: Thirty?
Child: Isn't that what Frazz is?
Mr. Spaetzle: He is 30. Whether he's grown up is open to interpretation.
Child: That's it! I want to be open to interpretation.

bz said...

Re: Dave Shaw's comment: that strip has been one of my favorite's, too.

Re: bifocals: it's not that it's all downhill from here, but do be careful going down stairs when you first get them. That close-range depth perception is tricky. My wife and I decided I would actually be safer driving to work in my new bifocals than commuting by bike as I usually do. Once I got used to them (a week or so) I was back on my bike.

Marc & Carol Gorelick said...

Hi! I am new to this blog, which I just found via Google. I'm a big fan of the strip, which I used to follow in the Detroit Free Press when they would still regularly deliver it to my house.

Anyway I thought I'd post to let Tim, Patty and Jef know that the problem with the web site is apparently that it's been compromised somehow by "malware." In fact, if you Google "Frazz" and follow the link to, you will be presented with a warning page that says, in part:

What happened when Google visited this site?

Of the 1 pages we tested on the site over the past 90 days, 1 page(s) resulted in malicious software being downloaded and installed without user consent. The last time Google visited this site was on 2010-10-11, and the last time suspicious content was found on this site was on 2010-10-11.

Anyway I thought you'd want to know what the deal was.


Charlie said...

I know what you mean about kids, an old friend and I were joking about someo f the things we did in college today at work, then I came home to my 5 yr old daughter and wondered where had the years gone, was 1999 really that long ago?

Tim R said...

What Marc says is true. is blocked. Ignoring the warning take you to which has what looks like legit Frazz content. The blog link leads to (which appears to be an alias to the blog address I use, which is

I assume Jef has a webmaster. They need to look into this as it does appear that his site has been compromised.