As the clock struck 2019 on New Year’s Day, yours truly passed a significant, if not earthshattering, milestone.
I’m now 65.
Yeah, yeah, I know, zip it, punk. I know many, many folks hereabouts who only wished they were that age again. And just maybe, at some point I’ll be able to reflect on age 65 and think, “ah, those were the days,” or words to that effect.
But not now, dammit! I’m sixty five friggin years old, for cripes sake. As for how that fits into local or national demographics, I don’t give a flying ass, as me Ma, the late Joan Brophy Kelly, once said in a fit of pique at something one or more of her seven offspring said or did.
I might have been involved in the incident, or more likely I was just an innocent onlooker, when I replied, “flying ass?”
She chuckled, her anger evaporating away, for the moment, anyway. It became kind of a catchphrase, certainly overused to point where I would start to say, in a good-natured, respectful way, of course, “I don’t give a flying a…” only to get “the look.”
I know you know what I’m talking about. She could melt steel with but a glance, a skill often called upon during her childrearing days and her lengthy teaching tenure in both Catholic and public schools.
She lived into her 80s, although her final years were not kind to her. And all four of me grandparents lived into their 80s or longer. My father was an exception, succumbing to lung cancer at only 46. Ma was 45 at the time.
Of the seven Kelly-Brophy issue, yours truly became the fifth to hit the big six-five. Which, obviously, means I received no sympathy whatsoever from the older four, who are all still very much with us, thankyouverymuch.
I was feeling somewhat less than festive upon turning 40, but my minor boo-hooing drew a “shaddup, kid,” in meaning if not in exact phrasing, from the senior siblings.
The same went for hitting 50, then 60 and now 65. I don’t get it. I was absolutely understanding and supportive as those old goats slipped toward senility.
Ok, that wasn’t nice.
Yeah? So what? Right now, it’s all about me.
And I’m only too happy to share with you fine folks the unfortunate timing of my birthday, which is January 1.
[In the interest of full disclosure, the publisher of this fine, um, publication also shares a New Year’s birthday. But she’s just a damn kid, so…]
You may think it a holiday, and on paper it is. Banks and the P.O. are closed, schools haven’t reopened yet and it falls within the 12 days of Christmas.
Truth is, though, it’s the day after a holiday, more precisely half a holiday.
New Year’s Day is the head-throbbing, cotton-mouthed, God-I-promise-I’ll-never-do-this-again period only an Uber ride away from New Year’s Eve, a night of much partying (read imbibing.)
Many are happy on NYE, many are not on NYD.
Also, the holiday falls exactly one week following Christmas, so not only are folks hung over, more than likely they’re also financially tapped out.
Oh, right, it’s your birthday. Happy Birthday, man! You know, I’d a got ya something, but, well, ya know, I open my wallet and nothin but moths come out. And for Pete’s sake will ya turn off that damn light, and the $%&#ing TV?
Ok, fine. Yes, in the grand scheme of things I’ve nothing to bitch about. I mean, some people have real troubles, for instance those sorry SOBs whose enjoyment of a televised doo-whop music concert is suddenly terminated and replaced with the in-studio image of a very earnest couple whose names ring no bells asking ‘isn’t this a wonderful evening of wonderful music, all made possible by people like you who opened their hearts and checkbooks and…’ well, you know the rest.
One minute these people are awash in the perfect harmonies of “Two Silhouettes on the Shade,” and the next they’re slapped in the face with the forced bonhomie of upper middle-class begging. Poor bastards.
Still, why couldn’t I have been blessed with my baby brother Dennis’s luck? He was born on Dec. 21, just a long weekend before Christmas. True, by then holiday shopping has emptied many a bank account, but that ol’ holiday spirit ain’t yet circling the drain.
Then there’s me son, Ryan Patrick Kelly, who entered the world on – you guessed it – March 17, St. Patrick’s Day. Of course he arrived with a mop of red hair.
“My birthday stinks!” says he. Well, he didn’t say “stinks,” but something similar. “I don’t get my own birthday!”
It was my turn then for the boo-friggin-hoo, kid. All you hafta do, said I, is walk into a pub anywhere in the English-speaking world on any March 17 and proclaim, “My name is Ryan Patrick Kelly and today is my birthday” and you’re set for the night.
Except don’t drink, or talk to girls, or fall in with the “wrong crowd,” or gamble, or swear, or eat fried foods. Other’n that, have a great time!
Back to me, now. Sixty friggin five. Damn.
There’s some solace, I suppose, in knowing my position in the demographics of Southold Town, which has been home for the 30 years since we left (Fled? Escaped? Vamoosed? Skedaddled?” the greater D.C. area.
Consider how a 2017 chapter of the Southold Town Comprehensive Plan Update underway for the better part of a decade (now probably used to prop up a broken bookshelf somewhere in the dark recesses of Town Hall) hit upon the bloody obvious is determining that I am unquestionably part of an “aging population.”
Yeah, yeah, I know. The only folks who aren’t aging reside in cemeteries. The report, like so many others, relies on weasel words rather than just getting to the point, which is, “Y’all are older than Latin.”
It reports that between 2000 and 2010 (don’t forget, the next federal census is yet another year off) the number of Southolders between 45 and 64 jumped – well, maybe not “jumped” – by 26.8 percent. The 65 to 84 crowd increased by 8.9 percent and get this, the number of folks 85 and older rose a whopping 45.5 percent.
During that same period, the number of kids under five dropped by 16.2 percent and the youngins in the six to 17 bracket fell 3.3 percent.
I may well be a stranger in a strange land, but there no doubt whatsoever that I’m an old dude in an oldster’s land.
Had I a dollar for every time I’ve heard, “Hey, it’s better than the alter
native,” I could be an old fart in some place in age-inappropriate clothes waiting for a much, much younger “assistant” to carry a tray of piña coladas out to my associates and me on a veranda overlooking the sparkling sea.
What, age gracefully? Screw that.
Think that sets a bad example and puts my family in an unfavorable light?
I don’t give a flying ass!
Tim Kelly is a former congressional press secretary and award-winning reporter, editor, columnist and photographer. He has lived on the North Fork for 30 years. For his mid-life crisis, he became a bagpiper.