Half a Century

Earlier this week, my work friend turned fifty.  So I baked her a tombstone cake, got everyone to wear black, decorated in black balloons and steamers, bought her a big bag of “senior supplies,” brought a wheelchair to work for her to sit in, and put “slow senior old zone” yellow tape around her desk.  (It’s okay… she wasn’t upset because she knows I’m right on her heels.)  And I wrote a eulogy which was read by our boss, the undertaker.  I hope you’ll get as big a laugh out of it as we did…

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to bid a fond farewell to Theresa’s Youth.  In the days of Theresa’s youth, men had not yet walked on the moon, smoke detectors were not yet invented, and Coca-cola did not yet use the newly introduced aluminum can.

In Theresa’s youth, handheld calculators were unheard of, word processing involved a manual typewriter, and the term “cut and paste” involved actual scissors and a brown, glass bottle of mucilage glue.

When Theresa was young, microwave popcorn was considered “space-age fiction,” the closest thing to video games involved three steel balls and a tilt sign, and heart transplants were only found in sci-fi movies.

In the year Theresa was born, the average cost of a new house was $13,600, the average annual salary was $6,450, gas was 31¢ a gallon, bread was 21¢ a loaf, and the average monthly rent was $118.

In the year Theresa was born, the Grateful Dead played their first concert in San Francisco, Astroturf was invented, and the mini skirt was introduced as the latest fashion conception.

So though Theresa knew a time that most of us have only heard about… a time when dinosaurs roamed the earth, when cavemen dwelled, and when fire and the wheel were still relatively new, we now encourage her to embrace her advanced age.

Now that she’s stepped up to the fifth floor, Theresa can look forward to receiving Medicare, reading the AARP magazine, and getting the senior’s discount coffee at McDonalds.

Theresa, though you might look back on your life and feel that your travels were limited, just think:  You’ve already made 50 trips around the sun.  With the earth’s orbit being 584 million miles, that’s twenty-nine billion, two hundred million miles you’ve traveled since the day you were born.

Speaking of days since you were born, did you know that you’ve lived 18,262 days as of this morning?  That’s 438,288 hours, or 26,297,280 minutes you’ve been alive!

Theresa, there’s no two ways about it…. I SAY THERE’S NO TWO WAYS ABOUT IT.  You’re old.  I mean, really old.  But that doesn’t mean that your life is over.  In fact, now that you’ve reached your golden years, you can actually multi-task and get more done at once…

For example, you can clean your teeth and take a nap at the same time.  You can put spikes on your walker to pick up trash while you take a stroll.  And you don’t have to pause the movie to use the restroom anymore.

So, Theresa, while you are still able to reflect upon your youth… back to days when Methuselah was in middle school, when the Redwood Forrest was a field of saplings, and when the pyramids were still under construction, try to remember fondly how you longed for the day when you could be older… and know that day has arrived… many times over.

Despite your many, many years, know that we, your friends, support you… even if your Social Security doesn’t.  As you forge forward into the world of Alzheimer’s and incontinence, and pave the way to the nursing home, we’ll be behind you – pointing and laughing.

Goodbye, Theresa’s Youth.  You can stay back in the days when the Burger King was just a prince, when Colonel Sanders had black hair, and when Elvis was still alive.  And thin.  But we’ll take the new and improved Theresa.  The wiser Theresa.  The antique Theresa.

We love you, Theresa.  Have a happy birthday!

Time to talk:  Have you ever attended a “wake for someone’s youth” as their birthday party?  Do you have birthday parties at your job?  Would you be upset if someone gave you a party themed around exaggerating your age?

Rachel, Rachel, Bo Bachel, Banana Fanna Fo Fachel…

For today’s Throwback Thursday, I bet you won’t be surprised that I’m going to be discussing my theme of the month: Games.  A long time before I was born, a song came out called “The Name Game.”  And when I was little, I just LOVED this song.  When my birth mom would visit me and sing this song with my name, I thought it was the funniest thing!

When my kids were little, I, of course, sang them this song with their names, but we had different versions of The Name Game that we played.

The first Name Game that I played with my kids was when they were very small and either had friends over for either play dates or the monster birthday parties I used to give them.  (If you have small kids or grandkids, this is a fun one to play with them.) First, you stand everyone in a circle then pick a theme, such as animals.  Then you have everyone select an animal that begins with the same letter as their name.  So, I would be Rachel Rhinoceros.  So, if I started, I’d say, “Hello.  I’m Rachel Rhinoceros.”  The next person would say, “Hello.  I’m Stefani Snake, and this is Rachel Rhinoceros.”  The third person would say, “Hello. I’m Jeremy Jaguar, that’s Stefani Snake, and that is Rachel Rhinoceros.”  Then it would continue around the circle until everyone’s been introduced.  If you have a lot of people, it’s pretty funny to see what happens when they mess up.  (Usually, the adults mess up before the kids do.)

But as my kids got older, we played yet a different Name Game.  This next Name Game, we generally played when we had long car trips.  I made this one up when we had a long trip once, and it goes something like this:  We’re thinking of names of famous people. They can be entertainers, or famous people in history, or even characters in movies, TV shows, or books.  They can be character names or real names.  But they can not be just people you know such as neighbors or family members.  Also, there can be no repeats of the same name.  And you also cannot repeat different forms of the same name such as Ronald Reagan and Ronnie Reagan.  But you can say Ronald Reagan and Ron Reagan Jr. If you used that however, you’d count Junior as the last name since it’s the last word of the name.

Now that the rules are established, the game is easy.  You take the first letter of the last name, and that has to be the first letter of the first name of the person that goes next.  For example if there are 4 people playing, it might go something like this:

(Person #1 says) George Washington
(Person #2’s first name has to start with W) Wilma Flintstone
(Person #3’s first name has to start with F) Forrest Gump
(Person #4’s first name has to start with G) Garth Brooks
(Person #1’s first name has to start with B) Big Bird

Now when it happens that someone uses a double letter such as BB in Big Bird, they start a “challenge.”  That means Person #2 tries to come up with a BB name such as Betty Boop.  The two of them “duel” like that, and when a person loses, it goes back in their direction.  So if person #1 couldn’t think of another BB name, it would reverse directions and go counter clockwise.  If Person #2 couldn’t think of another BB name, it keeps going clockwise, then Person #3 just has to think of a B name such as Bob Villa.

It looks a lot more complicated in writing than it really is.  Anyway, the Throwback Thursday portion of this story is that once when Jeremy was six and Stefani was ten, they were travelling with my sister and me from Florida to New York.  There was a hurricane up the East Coast while we were driving, and we got detoured all the way through West Virginia.  The trip that we normally drove straight through took us two full days with a stop at a hotel.

We started playing The Name Game when we were still in Central Florida.  (Now remember, there can be no repeats!)  And we managed to play it straight for the next two days until we got home in New York!  Seriously!  Jeremy’s names mostly consisted of cartoon characters and wrestlers.  Stefani’s mostly consisted of cartoon characters and President of the United States.

So there you have it.  Now, I won’t ask you to play The Name Game here with me today, but I will ask you to play it with your own family the next time you’re in the car.  Who knows; you might even like it.

So tell me:  Do you ever play road trip games?  Do you play board games?  Do you love or hate games?