Will you still be sending me a valentine
Birthday greetings, bottle of wine?
If I’d been out till quarter to three
Would you lock the door?
Will you still need me
Will you still feed me
When I’m sixty-four?
~Lennon & McCartney, “When I’m Sixty-Four”
My cousin Mary Veazey (the cousin who used to boss me around) told me that while preparing to attend her high school reunion, she wondered how many years it’s been since she graduated. She did a little subtracting and came up with the number 60.
She subtracted again, several times in fact, but kept getting the same number.
Sixty years since high school graduation.
She’s the oldest of the cousins, and I’m the baby, about fifteen years younger. That used to mean she was practically a generation ahead of me. She says I was more like her niece than her cousin. Lately, though, she’s suggested I might be catching up with her. For instance, she’s been saying things like, “When did you get so old?”
But I’m kind, so when she said she graduated sixty years ago, I agreed the number is impressive but refrained from saying, “Wow.” Wouldn’t have been prudent. She might have asked how long ago I graduated.
I’ve been sitting here playing a game on my laptop–Scary Halloween Match, which is a silly because there’s nothing scary about it except how many hours I’ve invested in playing it–and letting my mind wander. It’s funny the things that floated by on my stream of consciousness. James Joyce would be impressed.
One of the floaters took me back to high school. My friend and I played guitars and sang here and there whenever an invitation arose. Bob Dylan; Peter, Paul, Mary; a lot of our material came from their recordings: “Blowin’ in the Wind,” “Leaving on a Jet Plane,” “Puff, the Magic Dragon,” songs like that.
At one program we sang Lennon and McCartney’s “When I’m Sixty-Four.” I don’t know whether our contemporaries approved, but several retirees told me they got a real kick out of it.
I got a kick out of it a year later when Mary Veazey’s seven-year-old son asked me to sing, “Blow Your Hair Off.” It took a while, but finally I realized that’s how he remembered, “When I get older / losing my hair.”
One thought, however, stopped my stream of consciousness, just dammed it up and let nothing else through:
When did that happen?
I don’t feel sixty-four. I don’t look sixty-four. Or didn’t. After six rounds of chemotherapy, I really look a hundred and twenty-four. Tonight at dinner I remarked that chemo has brought out every wrinkle I never expected to have. David said I don’t have any wrinkles at all. He’s kind.
He’s something else as well. He’s sixty-three. And at fourteen months my junior, he’ll never catch up with me.
Which means I married a younger man.
Which means I’m a cougar.
Sixty-four, you can go jump in the lake.
I searched for a recording of “When I’m Sixty-four,” but they’ve all been blocked because of copyright. As a writer, I support the right of artists of all kinds to be paid for their creative efforts and their labor. As a former librarian and as a blogger, I wish the people responsible for the blocks would loosen up and give me what I want.