Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Older than Dirt


I’ve been getting a lot of reminders, lately, of how old I’ve managed to become. I switched on Turner Classic Movies this past weekend and caught a few minutes of that Cecil B. DeMille 10-ton classic, “The Greatest Show on Earth” about the Ringling Brothers, Barnum & Bailey (Combined Shows). It’s got a cast of … well, an entire circus PLUS Chuck Heston (see also: "Moses" and "cold dead hands") and a bunch of other clowns (well, Jimmy Stewart played the clown/doctor, on the lam from the law).

It’s always fun to watch. DeMille’s direction was utterly glacial, which is part of the fun.

At one point, though, he lovingly photographed and showed the “Big Parade” that circled the 3-rings of the show. Halfway through the parade the Ringmaster solemnly intoned, “And for all you boys and girls out there, our special guest star today is HOPALONG CASSIDY.”

And all of a sudden I felt older than dirt.

Hoppy was one of my childhood heroes, along with Roy and Dale, The Lone Ranger and Tonto, The Cisco Kid and Poncho and… “out of the night… when the full moon is bright… comes a horseman known as ZORRO…”

My childhood was lengthier than most, and extended long enough into the 60’s to capture such catch-phrases as “HOKEY-SMOKE, BULLWINKLE” and “HEY, ROCK. WATCH ME PULL A RABBIT OUT OF MY HAT! (again?)” Rocky & Bullwinkle actually had two shows, "Rocky & His Friends" followed by "The Bullwinkle Show"). They were sublime. The humor worked at the level of a 12 year-old and at the level of a college sophomore who'd smoked one blunt too many. Eventually they were succeeded in my sophomoric mind by The Firesign Theater and by the Granddaddies of Whacky Humor, Monty Python's Flying Circus. But to this day Rocky & Bullwinkle still slyly informs the inner workings of such shows as "The Simpsons" and "Family Guy", with tons of double-entendres and really rotten puns peppering the subtly sophisticated dialogue of these shows.

All of the first-runs of these shows had stopped by 1965. Even the re-runs had run out of steam by the mid-70’s.

It’s pointless to try to be relevant with youngsters (less than 40) by peppering my conversations with mentions and/or catch-phrases from the shows of these icons of my youth. My youth has long since flown the coop.

I am older than dirt. Certainly much older than I ever intended to get. I remember thinking, when I was 17, that 30 would be a very good age to die at. I sort of planned on it. And now here I am, staring down the barrel of 60, wondering how in God’s name I ever managed to get this old.

I have only one complaint about sobriety.

It’s made an old man out of me.

5 comments:

Bev Sykes said...

Don't talk to me about being "older than dirt," youngster.

JoyZeeBoy said...

Oh, Bev. How did this ever happen to us of all people?

Bev Sykes said...

Well, it's better than the alternative.

Alan said...

mmmmm. I was working at a library down in Graham today, checking in returned materials and discovered to my horror that The Brady Bunch is now on DVD. (ick. as if years and years of endless re-runs wasn't enough). that someone had actually checked this out is scary

JoyZeeBoy said...

I never knew what people saw in that show, yet I remember when there was a whole resurgence of Brady Bunch nostalgia, culminating in a weekly "re-enactment" by live actors of original episodes of the show at some nightclub down in the East Village. That would've been in the late 80's, early 90's. It ran for over a year.