I CAN'T DRIVE -- 55!

December 31, 2009

Sammy Hagar's classic rock song, "I Can't Drive 55" comes to mind today as I, your fast-paced, energetic and intensely superimposing blogger/pundit, turn 55.

Born on the last day of the year in 1954, I was my parents income tax deduction of the year! My father used to say, "you knocked me back $600 on money to report to the Infernal Revenue Service." I really didn't know what that meant except that it sounded like my dad owed me $600. I was wrong.

But back to the Hagar tune for a moment. The lyrics run like this:

One foot on the brake and one on the gas, hey!
Well, there's too much traffic, I can't pass, no!
So I tried my best illegal move
A big black and white come and crushed my groove again!

Of course, this song was written when the federal government regulated the speed limits on national highways. It had been 55 MPH from 1974 to 1994. But I am not just thinking of a 55 mile speed limit, but the speed limits of life.

At 55 years of age, I have one foot on the brake which signifies that I should slow down, you know - enjoy my remaining days as a grandfather, vacation more, work less and take in nature, stuff like that. My father would say, at 55 you have one foot in the grave. He wasn't too much of a realist.

But the real me wants to keep the foot on the gas. With no nods or winks to my son and my brother-in-law, both law enforcement officers, I can't drive 65 or 70, or whatever the speed limit is on the highways. I still want to get to my destination quicker than my wife would allow, or the cops for that matter.

I am fast-paced, but mostly in the sense of getting to my destination, doing what I have to do and getting the heck out of there.  For instance, when my wife asks me to go shopping with her. I would rather have a root canal and be water-boarded at the same time than to go shopping with a woman who takes all day just to look at and try on shoes.

If I am out of batteries or need to pick up a loaf of bread and some milk at the store, I plot my strategy long before I leave the house. It is a strategy of getting to the store, going inside and picking up the necessary items, paying for them and getting out of there in record time. That's it! Life is too short to stand around gawking at the latest fashions in underwear.

At 55, my mind still runs too fast for its age. That brings to mind yet another "famous" quote from a "famous" detective in the literary world who once said:

My mind rebels at stagnation. Give me problems, give me work, give me the most abstruse cryptogram, or the most intricate analysis, and I am in my own proper atmosphere. I can dispense then with artificial stimulants. But I abhor the dull routine of existence. I crave for mental exaltation.

In other place this detective, who you may have guessed was Sherlock Holmes, said:

My mind is like a racing engine, tearing itself to pieces because it is not connected up with the work for which it was built....My mind rebels at stagnation. I chafe and brood over the insufferable fatigues of idleness.

I used to get tired watching my much younger sister-in-law run around like a chicken with her head cut off. Her favorite line, as a child, was "I wanna do this, I wanna do that, I wanna do everything I possibly can, TODAY!" Well, Julie, I know what'cha mean!

Today, I am 55. Most people would say something like "40 years down and 10 to go (before retirement)." But in the age of Bush & Obama, I "guesstimate" that my retirement age won't come until 85. It will take another 30 years to add enough to my 401-K and my Roth IRA in order to arrive at the place where I can live comfortably without work - for say, 5 years!

No, I can't drive (or live like) 55! I must keep up the pace and keep on moving. Trying, as my wife would say, to keep up with my brain, keeps me young. So, like Sammy bellows in his song:

Go on & write me up for 125
Post my face, wanted dead or alive
Take my license n' all that jive
I can't drive 55! Oh No! Uh!

On a side note, my daughter-in-law recently asked what I truly wanted for my birthday. I responded: "To move to Waterbury, Vermont, build a log cabin, watch it snow, feel the warmth of a big fire in a huge stoned fireplace and read and write books." That would satisfy this racing engine mind of mine! And slow me (physically) down to 55!

Happy Birthday to me, but I truly wish to all my readers, family and friends: HAPPY NEW YEARS TO YOU!

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