Amblin' Alameda: Out of towners

Amblin' Alameda: Out of towners

Morton Chalfy

We are spending the weekend with friends and family from out of town, who are here to celebrate my sweetie's birthday. These are old friends who have come from the East Coast and Southern California and are themselves the presents my sweetie requested.

We ate breakfast in a local restaurant this morning and it was quite a sight: Five old geezers around the table, pretty much laughing our heads off and enjoying each others' company.

It must be said that these are people who fortune has smiled upon. I'm not thinking of fortune in terms of how much money they have, though they are professionals and have varying sizes of nest egg, but fortune in the sense that we are all still alive, still have our wits (such as they are) and still appreciate the good things in life. One of the outstanding good things are old friends: People who get your jokes, people for whom a punchline without the set-up from 20 or 30 years ago still gets guffaws.

Old friends have seen us over the years so our descent into age has been mutual, and our present appearance contains shreds of our once youthful good looks in their eyes. We know one another and we're still friends, and that says a lot.

We were talking and laughing about some of the indignities of age which no one told us about like having hair suddenly sprout on one's chest after 70 - which is a little late for the signs of masculinity to do any good. (Other indignities concern some of our plumbing and are not fit for public expression.)

We all agreed that our new hero and icon is the 101-year-old Nepalese man pulled from beneath an earthquake collapsed building after three or four days, alive and smiling. Now that's a charmed life. One would think that at his advanced age he might have just given up the ghost, but no, he gave nothing up and endured.

It does seem that 100 is the new 80, or something like that. The world is rapidly filling with old people, very old people and the centenarians. It's also rapidly filling with Generations X, Y and Z, and will soon fill with a new alphabetical round of youngsters all pushing the oldsters farther and farther out. But the oldsters aren't leaving.

Cruising has become a way of life for many retirees and that works well. The ships supply lots of employment both on board and on land, the cruisers have new sights to see and some pampering to ease their passage through the golden years and everyone's happy. It is hard to see how all or even a large part of the older generations can take advantage of cruising and get out of everyone's hair, but many are doing so. The rest of us keep on with the business of living - that is, shopping and eating while the youngsters keep after the work of living, that is making stuff to fill the shops and growing the food to feed the rest of us.

It's a brave new world with new rules and new situations. When over 85 is the fastest growing segment of the population, it is time for some serious rethinking. But that's the job of the youngsters. We oldsters just want to have fun.