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Commentary: Starting to Feel Old

By Tim Schmitt

Buffalo, NY – It seemed so insignificant. I pushed the button and held it for, oh I don't know, maybe three seconds.

As I heard a beep and let go, I realized the prime of my life had slipped away. See, I'm 34. As in, preparing to step out of the 18-34 demographic. Not allowed to hang with the cool kids any longer. Nearly ready for my AARP card.

Not that age ever really mattered. My last girlfriend was 11 years my junior and I seem to relate better to my daughter's pre-school friends than my former Tonawanda High School classmates. And despite pleas from a car salesman and a friend with whom I bank, I bypassed grown-up Explorers and F-150s for a tiny red Olds Alero. The guy who sold it to me called it a young girl's car. My banking friend added that "big boys drive trucks." I shrugged my shoulders like a kid in junior high.

But for some reason, when I caught myself changing car radio presets eliminating 103.3 "The Edge "because it was starting to sound like a grinding saw I felt my hairline recede, my pants rise just under my chest and, suddenly, socks and sandals seemed almost clever.

I was not becoming my parents my parents listened to the Eagles, not the Tragically Hip. But I realized that despite my best efforts, I've become a bona fide thirty-something.

Ouch.

Here's the thing music has always been my outlet, more than movies or TV. I remember walking into Cavages (God, I am old!) looking for the latest REO Speedwagon album. Heck, I'll go one further I remember walking to G.C. Murphy's on Webster Street to buy 45s on allowance day. If I close my eyes, I can still see the sleeves of some of those purchases: Foreigner's "Urgent," "The Breakup Song" by the Greg Kihn Band, "Heat of the Moment" by Asia.

These memories are only made less painful by the fact that I didn't succumb to the parachute pants craze. So last Sunday, partly because I was feeling spry and partly because I don't have to walk anymore, I took a trip to New World Records on Elmwood, one of my favorite local hangouts.

I bought a CD from a band called Hot Hot Heat after strapping on the headphones in the listening station. I stopped at Spot Coffee, picked up a bagel and a house blend, and realized old age is way, way off.

Tell the Corvette dealer to hold off on the hard sell. But Sundays are easy. Mondays are the true test. Sure enough, the following day found me putting together a grill in preparation for my daughter's fifth birthday party. Put down the air guitar, rock star, and pick up a Phillips and some pliers. After the grill, I mopped the kitchen, folded some laundry and unceremoniously scrubbed the toilet. All this before noon. All this before I headed off to my "real" work.

So when a reporter razzed me about listening to the new CD at work "aren't you a little old to listen to that?" she said it didn't faze me much. At least I think that's what she said. My hearing's starting to go.

Listener-Commentator Tim Schmitt is managing editor of the Tonawanda News and is on the editorial board of Greater Niagara Newspapers.