The Age of Irrelevance

Sometime in the past few years I discovered that I’ve become irrelevant. I remember precisely how it happened, though not exactly when.

I was reading a magazine. On the back cover was a full page ad for some kind of alcoholic beverage. The headline blared “YOUR OLD MAN DIDN’T DRINK DRINKS WITH LITTLE UMBRELLAS IN THEM.” The subliminal message (because that’s what advertising is all about) was that fancy drinks are not for real men. To drive this point home the ad featured a photo montage of the old man in his younger days doing guy things: camping, playing ultimate frisbee, driving for a layup in his Chuck Taylors. Each photo was cleverly Photoshopped to look 1970s-ish.

That’s when it hit me. I’m the old man. That was my era in those pictures. I’m no longer the target market. The only advertising aimed at me is for incontinence, pills to help me have sex or pills to make sure the sex doesn’t kill me by giving me a heart attack.

I recall a backpacking trip nearly 30 years ago. On a 10,000 foot summit in the Uintas we met a couple from Wisconsin. They were in their mid-60s and had been coming to Utah every summer for several years to hike. My buddy and I left vowing to be like them when we got to our 60s. In the folly of youth I thought it was just a matter of remaining active. It’s that and luck and a whole lot more, not the least of which is refusing to go quietly into the night of irrelevance. There’s more to this age than Depends and Viagra.

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