Despite all my experience as a dad, a grandfather, and occasionally competent human, I’m under-qualified to give a walking tour in Chicago or change diapers at a daycare facility, among other items we learn this week…..
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Even though I’m keeping my reference age fixed in my 40s, I get to feeling old every now and then. And when I do, nothing makes me feel younger than going to a 3 p.m. play and a 5:30 dinner. I might not be young, chronologically, but I am a toddler when you grade it on a curve.
I’ve always been a fan of live theater, for the same reason I give extra cred to anyone who performs without a net. When you see a movie, everyone has had a chance to do each scene over and over and over yet again, and then the editing team gets a shot at making everything fit and, when it doesn’t, insert enough mood music to push home the point. With live theater, they get to do it once and it will never be done the same way again. Different production companies and directors will stage the shows differently, which is a Rohrshach test for them and an opportunity for new perspectives for me.
The biggest thrill about going to the theater, though, is feeling young again. I’ve been to hospitals with fewer oxygen tanks. Nationally, the average theater goer is in her mid-40s, although I think the number jumps to 80 when you exclude Hamilton. At matinees, it’s about 82.
Theater companies bemoan the steady aging of their demographic, but they cater to it as well. Why wouldn’t you do a revival of South Pacific for people who served during World War II? How can you pass up Oklahoma when your audience remembers that great territory becoming a state in 1907?
Theater companies are fans of recycling because old musicals pay the rent and newer stuff mewls and pukes before it dies. Most new stuff deserves a painful death, though, because almost all of it is pretty crappy. Jill and I go to a dozen plays each year and, about 80% of the time, I am ready to leave after five minutes. My rule is simple: If I don’t care if any of the characters lives or dies, I am gone.
Jill and I are pretty hip for old farts, so occasionally we end up in some place that appeals to a slightly younger crowd. We’ll scan the room as we enter and Jill will say 27, which is the difference in age between us and the next oldest person in the room. Being in a room with younger people makes us feel younger than sitting in the theater with even older farts than ourselves.
They say you should hang out with people who are younger than you are so that you stay fresh and energized. Sounds good, but I started thinking about our friends and….wait a minute…for most of them, WE are the younger people making THEM feel good about themselves. Thank God for grandchildren. Otherwise, we’d be screwed.
Right now, I’m thinking about building a roster of younger people to buddy up to in order to renew my Qi (great WWF word), even as I plan on rationing my availability to the octogenarians who have been draining the life force from my faltering soul. And, I really need to book more time with the grandchildren.
Who knew aging could be a competitive sport?
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Great stories from the driver’s seat, online playgrounds, and the new vigilance that’s the price of liberty, included in this week’s array of helpful hints…
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You know that thing that happens when you buy a new car and, suddenly, you see the same model car everywhere you go and it seems the car must be much more popular than it was before you bought it?
Except, of course, that it isn’t any more or less popular, but you are more sensitive to sighting than you ever were previously? There’s probably a scientific term for this, but I’m too lazy to look it up, so we’ll just call it purchase affirmation for the next 400 words.
It turns out that purchase affirmation is about much more than purchases. We fall victim, or victors, as we pass through life stages, as well. When I was younger, I didn’t think anyone had problems with their prostate. Now, I think everyone is urinologically challenged. Thirty years ago, I thought fertility rates were increasing, largely because everyone I knew was having children.
The list of perceptions is endless. Sometimes we’re right and sometimes wrong, but the accuracy of our conclusions will flow more with our station in life than the underlying trends. Are most baby boomers downsizing? Many of my friends are doing so, which means this must be the case. Is Iceland the hottest new vacation spot in the world? I know three couples that visited in the past year, so I will say yes, it is.
Some of our purchase affirmation results from the decision to make the leap. When we lived in the suburbs, we didn’t know many people who had sold the house and moved to the city. After we sold the house and moved to the city, though, we were surrounded by others who had made the same leap, so it was clearly more of a trend than we realized earlier.
Purchase affirmation is a warm fuzzy, because it makes us feel better about our choices. When we leased an Acura, I started seeing more Acuras on the road. This perception made me feel like I was part of a hip new trend. Heck, maybe I was driving that trend, because I didn’t see this many Acuras until AFTER I had signed the lease.
At the same time, purchase affirmation is a trickster, convincing us of untruths and leading us to make bad decisions. I’ve made more than a handful of bad investment decisions on the basis of my incredible observational skills, applied to a minuscule sample. Too frequently, I have perceived the wisdom of crowds when I should have recognized herd mentality.
Purchase affirmation is harmless, as long as we recognize it for the mind game that it is. Lately, though, I have noticed more and more people who believe their decisions are changing the world. Clearly, this is a trend we need to address quickly.
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The secrets of great leaders, the absence of sex questions on Jeopardy, and making plans for a killer eulogy, all submitted for your intellectual stimulation this week…
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Dadwrites oozes from the warped mind of Michael Rosenbaum, an award-winning author who spends most of his time these days as a start-up business mentor, book coach, photographer and, mostly, a grandfather. All views are his alone, largely due to the fact that he can’t find anyone who agrees with him.