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Prodigal Dad may have invented fire (he can't remember)

Prodigal Dad may have invented fire (he can't remember)

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Being old at Christmas has turned out to be a good thing. I had a nice young man walk me to my car to make sure I wasn’t robbed “because old people are venereal.”

Not sure, but I think he meant vulnerable. I hid my giggle with a cough — we ancient are expected to cough.

I am, however, only middle aged — a concept invented by the old for the old — and by old, I mean middle-aged.

I kills me to say so, but I am in my extremely late mid-forties. I have to face it before my age spots start ordering for themselves at restaurants and arguing in public over who is the better, ELO or BTO. (If you have to ask, go take a bathroom break and read on.)

My kids don't think I'm middle-anything. They tell me I am just plain old. They revel in their stretchy skin and bouncy hair, and legs that go the same direction as the rest of them — and in telling me that I am the same age as dirt.

They are not just saying this for spite because I grounded them from all interaction with the outside world for posting my yearbook photo on Facebook with the heading "When Republicans ran the world." They really think I am old.

My kids don't think I'm middle-anything. They tell me I am just plain old.

What do they know? Makes me mad enough that I just want to throw an earth shoe at them or make them listen to my cassette of, or until they have learned a genuine appreciation for Donna Summer — who was "Mariah" before "Mariah" had even thought about being "Mariah."

Now I read in the old people's section of the paper — the page just before the obituaries — that today’s young people have no tolerance for the aged.

Well, knock me over with a padded plantar fasciitis insole.

Here is what I say to young people who don’t have patience for the old. Get over it.

If I had to live through the Peaches and Herb generation, you bratty kids can handle one lousy evening of watching Carol Burnett and "M*A*S*H" reruns while snacking on soft deviled eggs to placate me before I come down with real dementia. (The other real dementia — not the dementia I was in last Thursday when I tried to call my wife on the remote temperature gauge for the microwave.)

Call me old, will they? Do they not realize the havoc I, in my experience, can inflict upon them in their darn youthfulness?

With the sweep of my once mighty sword I can send them to their rooms for minutes at a time, or at least until I forget that I grounded them and ask them to turn the channel for me with the remote I have not yet learned to use.

Middle age is in the cataract-ed, bifocal-ed eye of the beholder, it would seem.

I can tell them how wonderful Reagan was from memory. I can tell them firsthand how long it took to not boil water in a microwave.

I can do, do, do ... do the Hustle, and describe for them that wonderful day when everybody was kung fu fighting. I have valuable information and culture of the ages that I could share with them if they would give me just a sec to find my teeth.

I am not old, I am in the middle! And there is life in me yet, I tell you!

Speaking of the math with which I flunked out of BYU, as a middle aged man it appears that I am currently planning on living at least until I am 94. My dad says that he is middle aged. Using the same math, he is apparently planning on living until he is one hundred and seventy.

Middle age is in the cataract-ed, bifocal-ed eye of the beholder, it would seem.

Now my dad is the real old. He has even given up dyeing his hair. I would never do that. If I stop using hair dye, my teeth would fall out. I'm not sure why, but I heard that happened to Lawrence Welk, and I don't want to risk it. Besides ….

What was I saying?

At least I have obtained a bit of empathy for old folks, and I try to teach my children what I have learned. When those more experienced than we are in the line in front of me at Giganto-Mart and have lost their keys, or their wallet, or their minds, I help them look for it. I even found it once.

An old mind is a terrible thing to waste, especially at Christmas.

Davison Cheney writes the "Prodigal Dad" column for See his other writings at


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