As we began the last year of the 20-teens decade, I realized something that makes me seem even older than I feel at times. Jan. 1, 2020, will mark the start of the eighth decade in which I have lived.
When I fall asleep well before the Times Square Ball drops at the end of this year, I will only be 65 and 3 months old. However, I will have lived in eight decades — 1950s into the 2020s.
(You can trust me on that because I double-checked my math by the tried-and-true, counting-on-my fingers method. If it had been my 11th decade, I would have been out of luck and I probably would have forgotten what I was counting anyway.)
Although I was born in 1954, I cannot recall much of that decade. We had great parents, so I’m certain that those were happy days, but I am reasonably certain they weren’t anything like the sitcom “Happy Days” set in that decade. I definitely didn’t know anyone named “Fonzie.”
The 1960s were a varied decade, which began with me graduating from kindergarten. (I would have been valedictorian, but I kept drinking the fingerpaint.)
The final year saw me making it out of my freshman year. (I had stopped drinking fingerpaint by then.)
It was an unusual decade to say the least. It began with me watching “Captain Kangaroo” and ended near the height of the hippie era. It’s not that I ever had to worry about my hair hanging down on the desk of the student behind me.
It wasn’t until my senior year in 1971-72 that guys in my school were allowed to wear mustaches and sideburns. I might have grown a mustache, but they only changed the rule right before school started and I needed more than nine months to grow one.
The ’70s saw me survive the end of the hippie era and the far more traumatizing disco era. It was kind of fun in my early college days wearing bellbottom jeans with bellbottoms that were bigger than my waist and had more patches than denim.
As far as disco, let’s just say I am extremely grateful that people were not equipped with phone cameras as they are today. Me wearing platform shoes and floral shirts would been like a scene from “Herman Munster Goes to Hawaii.”
The ’80s were primarily notable for being the first decade that I had a full-time job and for the time when I lost track of popular music.
It’s like being stuck in a musical time machine that goes from the 1950s to the 1970s and hits some type of barrier around 1980. I’ve spent nearly 40 years unaware who’s singing what and what the heck they are singing.
The 1990s were primarily memorable for three life-changing events. First, I met JoAnn and, in a moment of weakness, she agreed to go out with me.
Next, JoAnn agreed to marry me and, just as importantly, I didn’t wake up and find out that I had only been dreaming. Third, she went through with the wedding and has been putting up with me for 27 years.
I’ve been living the dream ever since then, but the first decade of this century was memorable because I went back to my old high school — and not just to lecture students not to drink fingerpaint.
My first years as an English teacher were a humbling experience. For one, most of the guys in my ninth-grade class had thicker beards than I did.
In my second decade of teaching and of this century, I have to say that while my first seven decades have been enjoyable, I don’t wish to go back in time. I have no desire to have long hair, wear patched jeans, dance to disco — or give JoAnn a chance to change her mind about marrying me.