Acting Your Age

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“Act Your Age”

That’s the line, right? “Act your age!”

For me, that is an act. I know that’s not the point of the phrase, for sure, but honestly, it’s how I’ve always been, I guess.  I don’t “act” a certain age.

Funny thing is, that act changes from point to point during my day, too.

How am I supposed to “act” anyway?  What does a 45-year-old “act” like?  At 45 Eric Clapton had already recorded the smash hit Journeyman and was working on From the Cradle in the studio.  Peter Capaldi, British actor, star of The Thick of It and currently the Doctor on the TV show Doctor Who is 57.  He spends his days running around from alien monsters and plays electric guitar in a space/time ship called a TARDIS.  Is that acting his age?  He’s certainly acting his pants off.

My life certainly changed and I certainly grew up a lot in 2011.  Most of that was by necessity.  I certainly felt more like a father and grown up than I ever had before when I became a single dad.  Bear in mind, that could also be the exhaustion talking.

If “acting my age” meant that I had to take care of adult things, I was certainly “acting” like I knew how to do that for a long time.  I didn’t really feel like I had a grasp of it until the last 5 years or so, though.  Yet if others’ opinion of my age is that I age gracefully, slow down, sit in a chair, talk about how much better the world was with no cell phones and 3 networks on TV (plus PBS) and work behind a desk and never get out and never do anything out of the ordinary I would go mad.

So let me just say this – the adult stuff is the act.  I do it a lot.  At work I am responsible.  I do math – which for a journalist . . . that’ s a big thing folks.  I went into TV thinking I’d get out of doing math.  How wrong THAT was!  I pay the bills, and most days I don’t work for my bosses I work for Visa, the property management company who takes my rent, AT&T, PG&E, my daughter’s college, the trash collectors and the water company.  What’s left we eat with, which is just fine.  Growing up meant coming to terms with the fact that when you’re out of money, you’re out. We seem to have that happen often, but we still manage to keep just a little to tide us over.  That’s quite the act.

When a kid is sick I act like I know what I’m doing.  Habit, memory and my own upbringing as a fairly sick kid make taking care of a sick kid more muscle memory than responsibility.  I love them and they know it, though, so I never “act” irresponsibly with them.  The act here is acting like I’m calm and collected when I’m really worried sick myself.

I act like I tolerate the laundry, dirty toilets, folding clothes, dusting lampshades and vacuuming floors.

But I don’t “act” like anyone’s idea of a 45-year-old.  I play guitar whenever possible.  I’m in a band.  I’m going into the studio this spring and – no – I don’t have a recording contract.  (Very irresponsible, how could I DO that?!)

Just this morning my kids and I joined into singing some old Sesame Street cartoon song about an alligator king. (Said the alligator king to his seven sons, I’m a-feelin’ mighty down . . . )  When I cook I sing.  I use a turntable instead of a CD player because it’s fun.  I tickle my children, still kiss my sons good night and watch sci-fi shows and the Muppets on TV.

One day, in the grocery store, James Brown came on the overhead speaker and I moved the grocery cart out of the way and began dancing very badly in the aisles.  My son joined in.

It’s not the “you’re only as old as you feel” thing because I have problems with my back, I gained weight, trying to lose more weight, have high cholesterol and have grey hair.  I don’t feel young bodily at all.  I feel the years I wear, for sure.

But I don’t act like it.  In my head I’m the same goofy guy, the one who watched his daughter turn 21 and think . . . I just had my 21st birthday not long ago didn’t I?  Apparently not.

But don’t tell me that.  I’m acting like I don’t know.

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