Sunday, November 5, 2023

"Just Like Young Times"

By Jerry Zezima

As a baby boomer who was bad at math in high school, I have calculated that 70 is the new 60. Using the new math, 70 is the new 50. And for grandparents, 70 is the new 10.

That was the consensus at a fabulous 70th birthday party for members of the Stamford Catholic High School Class of 1971, which was held at Zody’s 19th Hole, a popular restaurant in our hometown of Stamford, Connecticut.

I am the baby of the bunch, physically and mentally, because I won’t hit the big 7-Oh until January. But I partied anyway because I am a kid at both heart and head, the latter of which has retained precious little of what I learned in high school, where I was the class clown.

At the party, it was evident that some things haven’t changed.

“You look wonderful,” one classmate told me. “What’s your secret?”

“I eat like a horse, drink like a fish and get absolutely no exercise,” I replied. “That’s all there is to it.”

“Your complexion glows,” someone else said. “What do you use on your skin?”

“Turtle Wax,” I answered. “Why waste it on my car?”

It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway, that everyone at the party looked wonderful. And it wasn’t astigmatism — or the wine — talking.

“Our kids are getting old but we’re still young,” I told a fellow father. “I feel sorry for them, but what are you going to do?”

Naturally, the subject of grandkids came up.

“Do you spoil your grandchildren?” a grandmother asked me.

“No,” I said. “That’s my wife’s job. My job is to corrupt them.”

My wife, Sue, also a member of the Class of ’71, was the youngest-looking and most beautiful woman at the party. And not just because she hasn’t turned 70, although it will happen this month.

The highlight was seeing our dear friends Hank and Angela Richert, who drove up from the Carolinas for the weekend. Hank was in our class. He also was my roommate in college and was the best man at our wedding. And I was the best man at his wedding to Angela, who didn’t go to Catholic High and is a couple of years younger than the rest of us. She looked beautiful, too.

Angela told Hank that she would give him a year’s worth of anything he wants for his 70th birthday, which he celebrated in August. So far, they have gone on a cruise. And their two sons have given Hank, a race-car fan, an “extreme experience” at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, where he can actually drive on a track.

“Most guys our age creep along with their left blinker on,” I said.

“I won’t be doing that,” Hank assured me.

Of course, there were stories about pranks pulled back in the day. Like the time I asked a nun if she had to shave her head like Curly of the Three Stooges so she could fit into the veil of her habit.

“I was in the principal’s office so often,” I recalled, “he could have charged me rent.”

The party was a smash. The food was delicious. And the festivities ended with a big birthday cake.

“Are there 70 candles?” I wondered.

“If so,” said Hank, “we may have to call the fire department.”

Then we all sang “Happy Birthday” to ourselves.

I’m surprised my voice didn’t clear the room.

Sue even got a centerpiece with a “70” sign sticking up from between the flowers.

Fittingly, 70 people signed up for the party.

“Seventy for 70,” I remarked. “That’s one for each year. Who said I’m bad at math?”

Copyright 2023 by Jerry Zezima

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