50 ways to leave your youth

I’m about to turn 50. But, of course, you already knew that. You’re no doubt as fixated on it as I am.

It’s a meaningful age in my family because it’s the exact same age my own father — neither coincidentally nor insignificantly — turned 50. Mom wouldn’t hit that milestone until she was 57.

And, by the way, “about to turn” is a relative term. Yes, my milestone may be just four months down the road, but when you break it down to hours (3,000), or minutes (177,000+) or, better yet and even more fun, seconds (10,700,000), it can seem like an eternity away.  

But I know better. It looms nonetheless. It’s almost like the universe is conspiring to remind me of it. Here’s what I mean: In spinning the radio dial just yesterday, one of the oldies stations was playing “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover,” a trite song from the ’70s.  You see what I mean — 50? Who plays that song? Of all the terrific Paul Simon songs to choose from, where and why’d they dig up that dog? It’s because they were talking directly to me. And so I changed the station.  But the new station was playing something unrepeatable by … 50 Cent. Don’t even try to convince me that I’m imagining this.

Oh, and while I was driving around, now fervidly ignoring both Paul Simon and 50 Cent, I realized the city was also forcing me to face up to my impending milestone. I appreciate the fact that this may have been related to the route I happened to be on at that moment, but every single block contained one reminder after another. Fiftieth and Bryant, 50th and Colfax, 50th and Dupont. You see? The drumbeat became louder and louder the further west I drove along that infernal roadway, once so pleasant and enjoyable. Fiftieth and James, 50th and Knox. Oh, for god’s sake, just be done with it — where’s 50th and Arthritis? 50th and Belly-Paunch? 50th and Your-Tennis-Game-Has-Gone-to-Hell-Glenn?

And finally — as if those earlier citations weren’t enough — I was walking around Lake Harriet and there was an odd couple walking just behind me, close enough that I was absolutely forced to listen in on their conversation. One was put out because the dip in the economy had caused him to cancel his trip to Europe. The other, a trouble-maker I’ve seen lurking about Linden Hills on numerous occasions, said to him, “Prichard (name altered, but dangerously close), don’t worry about it. Just have fun traveling somewhere in the 50 (my emphasis added, but it was implied) United States this summer.” Who talks like that? Who refers to stateside travel as being done within the 50 United States? No one.

So, there’s that. The universe is banging me over the head. And, speaking of over the head, one more thing. I took my sons to the Walker Art Center the other day. Fascinating exhibit going on there, but one piece proved offensive to me. I can only describe it as two walls put closely together with a security camera behind me and a monitor in front of me.  Anyway, said art piece projected the back of my head onto the monitor, reminding me that all of my wispy locks have not successfully made the lifelong journey with me. And so, it approaches. Every 10-million baseball-capped, radio-off, driving-along-49th-Street seconds of it.

Glenn Miller lives in the Fulton Neighborhood. He is the owner of Miller & Associates, a corporate communications and video production firm