If you're a senior citizen like me, you know what's coming when you hear or see the phrase `You know you're getting old when … 'How many times have you read or hear funny endings to that statement?
• You know you're getting old when you're the only one who knows how to use a rotary phone.
• You know you're getting old when happy hour is a nap.
• You know you're getting old when you feel like the morning after but you have not been anywhere.
Then there are the real, less funny responses. You know you're getting old when you wake up in the morning with aches and pains in most joints or when you have to pee a dozen times during the night. I've certainly felt old when I've forgotten where I've placed something … something basic like car or house keys, purse, library book, etc.
Do you find yourself joking about having a 'senior moment'? We may chuckle to mask the tiny sense of terror the lost object, forgotten name, or brain fart wreaks havoc on our psyche. But I think we all freeze in that moment realizing we're not as agile, physically or mentally, as we once were.
One of the last places I expected to feel old was at a recent 49ers game. My friend and I had traveled to San Francisco on a tour bus. We did not have to deal with traffic or parking – a true luxury in my opinion. In addition, we were being feted in one of the team suites, which provided food and drink and monitors to watch up close anything our bi-focaled eyes may have missed on the field.
I should mention that after having been to other games during my lifetime, I've always thought more of the actual game and play-by-play was to be viewed from the comfort of my living room. To experience the live event, however, is thrilling and not to be missed, if you get the chance. Seeing it live shows you what goes on during commercials, for instance, and what happens on the periphery of the actual play.
Well, folks, it's what happens on the periphery that made me feel old at this recent game. The noise level of the roaring fans alone was unsafe (especially for old people with hearing aides such as me) at 85dB for the entire 3+ hour game. In addition, on the sideline were:
• Cheering cheerleaders (okay, you could not really hear them, but they were distracting course, which added to general confusion)
• A group of 20 boisterous rally squad guys who screamed, jumped on railroads and seats through the stadium
• The 49er mascot
• A combo of at least 12 drummers on base drums moving around the stadium
• Another 7 guys on horns backing up the drummers
• All the camera / TV equipment and staff moving up and down the sideline following the movement of the players.
• Flag bearers who'd wave flags as big as a house on the sideline and then meet up for a celebration dance in the middle of the field after each touchdown
• All the staff related to the above participants: supervisors, technicians, facilitators, water boys, ball boys, linesmen, trainers, and other players
In addition, during the halftime there were at least two hundred other performers and different band participants who performed for the 35,000+ crowd. Where were they keeping all these folks before and after the half ???
And that was just 'down there,' on the field. Up in our suite, we had friends cheering and yelling conversations with other people in our group. There were also numerous TV monitors up on the walls of the suite, some showing the game we were viewing and others showing the SF Giants game, which I was also interested in. And if that was not enough, retired players such as Dwight Clark and others I did not recognize would make the round of suites to allow for autographs and picture taking. I have a bunch of pictures on my camera of ex-football players I have no clue who they might be.
Do I sound like I'm complaining? Well, I'm not. It was so much fun to have this experience. I was grateful that I was given this opportunity and that I was able to share it with friends. At the same time, however, it felt like it was too much; too much noise, too much to look at, too much to eat and drink, too much to do / see / hear / feel and just too much to take in.
In spite of being exhausted, near deaf, with blood-shot eyes and heartburn, I'll never forget this day. I'll never forget the smell of forbidden Polish dogs, the smile on the face of the young ticket-taker, the serious look of stadium security staff and the memories of being with friends for a once-in-a-lifetime event.
I say bring on more opportunities to feel old if it means I get to enjoy and complain about opportunities like this!