Some 40 years ago, in 1976, I was a bachelor enjoying the “swinging 70s,” which meant I had an active, and fun, social life.One of the ladies I dated in those days wanted to celebrate her birthday “in style,” so we went to fancy dinner at a private club in St. Louis, with a fair amount of wine, danced into the night at another club and spent the rest of the evening at my house doing what couples then — and now — do with each other in bed.
I was 27. She was celebrating her sixth birthday.
Hold on, I hear yo say. Before you dig out the shotguns and call the law to have me thrown in jail as a child molester, you should know we were celebrating her 6th birthday on February 29, 1976 — a leap year.
In actual years of life, she was 24. But she only celebrated her birthday every four years so her cards and cakes recognized her birthdays consecutively. The card I gave her that year, in bed, said “Happy 6th birthday.”
Have known a few people born on the leap year date of February 29 over the years. Most celebrate their birthdays on non-leap-years on Feb. 28 or March 1. Others consider the date of birth sacrosanct and only celebrate the actual, and real, birthday that only comes every four years.
My intimate lady friend back in 1970s is now a grandmother and will soon be a great-grandmom. Her Facebook page lists her age as 16.
We’re still good friends and she scolds me when I complain about my ravages of age.
“What ravages? You ride that damn motorcycle of yours,” she says, “all the time with what some might call a “death wish,” you take pictures on sidelines at football games and have to dodge players more than a third of your age when they come flying off the field in pursuit of a ball. You were still chasing news stories that put you in harm’s way into your late 50s.
“Remember what Satchel Paige once said: ‘Age is mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it don’t matter.’ ”
Perhaps, but most of the funerals these days are for people younger than me. My doctor finishes considerations of my health with “..for your age.” Cashiers no longer ask if I want the senior citizens discount. It’s on the check before I come to pay.
Then again, I have the fountain of youth — otherwise known as a Harley Davidson.
The thermometer said 60 when I pulled backed my Harley Switchback out of the garage shortly after noon Sunday for a long-overdue ride. As with most rides — no destination in mind. Just head wherever the road goes.
Short hop on U.S. 221 into Floyd, then a right on Rte. 8 towards Christiansburg, a left on U.S. 11 towards Radford, stopped for gas at the Kroger just across the New River towards Pulaski ($1.71 cents a gallon for premium).
Not much traffic on 11 as the Harley rumbled along U.S. 11 to Dublin, then we stayed on the road to Pulaski and then up and over Draper Mountain.
Thought I might head up Virginia 100 towards Hillsville, then maybe hit either U.S. 52 or U.S. 58 towards the parkway but a long line of traffic involving several trucks changed my mind and hung a left on Virginia 693 towards Hiwassee and rode northeast, along the banks of the New River, then in and through the town.
Lead Mine Road took the Harley and I to Snowville, which crosses over The Little River and the pavement becomes Childress Road in Montgomery County.
Then right on Meadow Creek Road (better known to the locals as “Pig Path”) then right again on Virginia Rte. 8.
A stop in Riner for a bottle of Gatorade, then back to Floyd as the sun began to set and home awaited.
The trip, like most motorcycle rides, bring out youth while infirmities of age fade. Had to concentrate on back roads with lots of potholes and damaged pavement and more than a few tight turns. It felt good.
Looks like another decent day on Monday and a chance to get back on the road. May fire up Amy’s Can Am and exercise it.
A cashier with a full head of thick, curly hair at our local Food Lion was discussing age one night with a customer she carded for purchase of beer. She told him age is hard to guess and, to prove her point, turned and asked me to guess her age.
“About 19,” I said.
“That’s right,” she said with a shocked look. “Most people think I’m older.”
She guessed my age at “somewhere around 40.” I had to show her my driver’s license to prove I’m 68.
I could have kissed her but that is not something 68 year old men should not be doing to young women they do not know. I settled for driving home that day feeling pretty damn good.
Damn right Satchel. I don’t mind and it don’t matter.