SALT LAKE CITY — It’s not that I don’t care about aging. My Gramma Ruby used to say that age doesn't matter unless you're a cheese — though I think she was trying to make the best of things at 85.
I am older than I had anticipated I ever would be when I was in high school, where I was young, beautiful and wore a size 32 swimsuit.
Frankly, other than the young, beautiful and size 32 thing, I find that I don’t care about aging as much as I thought I would. Don't get me wrong — bodies aging is for the birds. Believe me, there was a time when it didn’t take me the entire Walking Dead commercial break to bend over and retrieve a baby pacifier from under the couch.
No, what I mean is that because I am old, there are things about which I would no longer give a hoot.
Not incidentally, I made a deal with my sister years ago that if I ever wore black socks with anything, she would buy me a farm. For her part, the catalyst was hair dye; If I ever saw her with roots half an inch or longer, I would do the same for her.
Now that both of these happen on a regular basis, we should follow through with our pledge and send each other to our collective maker, but neither one of us cares! Priorities have changed.
Nor do I care that I either wear, or in turn don’t wear, the most stylish of clothing. If it was good for the golden age of disco — for getting down in funky town — then it is good for generation pants-on-the-ground.
I was the guy who turned up the collar of his Lacoste Polo shirt. It was just the right shade of pink, which complemented my stylin’ "burn-the-epidermis-right-off-my-body" tan.
Skin cancer? I’ll be dead waaaay before that, the young me thought, so pass the Hawaiian Tropic oil and play that funky music, white boy. In my defense, I was a moron.
What I know now that I didn't know then — a primer for those who are aging or thinking about aging
Now that I am five-ish years shy from ordering from the senior menu at Denny's, I can't think of much in the way of advice for anyone, but I would like to go back in time and smack some sense into me at age 22. If I recall, I thought I knew just about everything then.
I knew what my signature would look like when I was asked for an autograph. And I knew there would always be money. (Pause for hysterical laughter.)
Currently, the list of things I know for certain is relatively short. I have my religious convictions, and those seem to solidify as I get older. I am more experienced as a teacher. I lift heavy objects by balancing instead of sheer muscle, but that is mostly because all my muscle was sheared.
I don’t know anything more about rearing children than I did before I had them, except I am darn good at making bottles and burping. Babies.
I suppose I do know enough to not get freaked out when I am not picked to play on the team I thought was cool. I get to decide what is cool, and I will not be afraid of coolness — as some are born cool, some achieve coolness and some have coolness thrust upon them.
Most of us make cool up as we go.
I know to pay tithing and taxes first, then bills, and then buy a perennial or two for my garden, and that brushing one's teeth is not really as extracurricular as the film strip led me to believe.
A few more things I would like to have passed on, in no particular order
I would like my kids to have learned a few useful things just by living with me:
• Put grampa's stuff away, and then teach your kids to put grampa's stuff away — unless you want to keep buying stuff.
• It's best not to put much stock in what people say. Everyone talks. What they do and who they are is much more important.
• You can’t rescue anyone who doesn’t want to be rescued.
• Referencing "Saturday Night Fever" is lost on the young.
• Whether it's Chef Jacques Pépin in New York City, or Chef Boyardee in the kitchen, time spent with those you love is yummy.
• Old is relative. Don't base the worth of someone old on whether or not they can program their own phone.
Most of all, age has taught me not to go too fast, that being kind to people is something that matters more than having to be right, and that the skills you develop while apologizing to people will never be time wasted. Everything else is secondary.
Now, let's warm up a can of mini-ravioli, I'll go get my teeth, and we'll boogie to a little "Jive Talkin."
Davison Cheney writes the Prodigal Dad family humor column weekly for KSL.com. See his other writings at davisoncheneymegadad.blogspot.com and on Twitter @davisoncheney.