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Surprise! I'm An Oldie

I’m getting older. It’s something I don’t need to tell myself because the signs are everywhere. All I have to do is look in the mirror (to see my dad staring back at me) or stand up after sitting for more than 15 or 20 minutes and listen to the creaks and groans that come from my joints and out of my mouth.


To be clear, I don’t mind getting older, though it does bother me that nowadays hair seems to grow everywhere except my head, and my healthcare provider is constantly reminding me of upcoming preventive tests, screenings and vaccinations (not unlike the list we get from the mechanic telling us our tires are due for rotation, we could use a good radiator flush and our timing belt needs to be replaced).


That aside, day in and day out I feel good, but recently two areas beyond my physical appearance or overall health have reminded me that I’m getting more like my dad,  insignificant pet peeves that have crept up out of nowhere (not unlike a stray nose hair or new arthritic ache), and I’d like to share them with you.


They are: 1) bad TV commercials and 2) songs that don’t want to end.


First, let’s tackle TV commercials. In my mind, they fall into several categories. The first is “Well-produced and Effective.” These commercials, and the companies that produce them, have found a good, concise, non-irritating way to communicate what they do, who they are and what they sell. They get in and out within 30 seconds, tell me how to find or buy their product or service, maybe make me chuckle or give me some food for thought, and they go away. No problem. Nicely done. Kudos to you. Advertising money well-spent.


Category 2 is what I call “Truly Humorous.” Few and far between, these are commercials have the correct mix of writing, talent and production value to create an entertaining experience for me (not unlike a good sitcom). I appreciate these ads and the companies that make them. Again, kudos. Please make more.


The next category is “Hopelessly Mediocre.” This is where the majority of TV commercials land, whether local, regional, national or international. We all know these commercials because they’re everywhere. They come and go without us even paying attention, like elevator music or the instructions flight attendants provide before takeoff.


What puts them in this category most often is that the company (or its ad agency) has tried to cram too much into its 30- or 60-second time slot: too much information, too much face time for the company owner, too much company background, too many side effects (and let me tell you, there are ALWAYS a lot of side effects), etc. These commercials do nothing to make me want to buy, but they must be having some effect because people keep making them.


The next category is “Hometown Cheesy.” This is that beautiful group of local advertisers who try really hard to sell us, make us laugh or prove themselves to us. These are the underdogs (my people), the people who probably have no business being on camera or executing their own creative ideas on TV. Yet here they are, selling their furniture, hawking their HVAC services or trying with every ounce of grit and energy to convince us that their experience and customer service is the best. These folks use all the cliches and catchphrases, and often find someone to create cheesy jingles for their cheesy spots. And while many of these local gems are “cringe-worthy” to say the least, I love watching them and appreciate their effort and sincerity.


The final category–and the one that reminds me that I’m getting old–is what I call “Arrogantly Condescending.” These are commercials produced by people, companies and organizations that believe they know everything, I know nothing, and to prove it, they’re going to trot out their CEO or owner to tell me how great they are and why I should rush to buy their product or hire their firm, and what might happen if I don’t.


This is where I dig in my “old” heels. These are the folks I have determined “will never get my business as long as I’m drawing breath,” and I’ve said as much (though not with such dramatic language) as they appear on my screen.


And this (along with the thinning hair, unwanted hair, creaky joints, moans, groans and expanding list of tests, screenings and vaccinations) is how I know I’m getting old. Because only an old person would let any of this bother him.


Now, to use a beautifully cheesy TV commercial catchphrase: “But wait, there’s more!” Yes, I have another “old-guy” pet peeve. It’s never-ending songs.


I listen to lots of music all day long in a number of genres: classic rock, folk, Americana (a category that even those who perform it can’t define), and what we used to call “oldies” (but I’m pretty sure only old people like me still use the term “oldies.”)


But it isn’t any one type of music that bothers me or reminds me how old I am. It’s the frustration I get when a song goes on for too long, or if there’s a gratuitously long instrumental solo in the middle.


I don’t mind a long song if there’s a reason for it. However, I do mind any song that spends too much time repeating a single line over and over (usually at the end); one with an excessive string of “na-nas” or “la-las” or “ya-yas”; or even a long instrumental riff that drones along, waiting for the song to gasp it’s last dying breath.


Tom Petty, an old guy who ironically died too young and who has always been one of my all-time favorites, said it best: “Don’t bore us, get to the chorus.” I find myself muttering that line (among others) to my aging self when I’m listening to a song that’s overstaying its welcome on my car radio or smart speaker. And in my life, that list of songs is getting longer every day, as lists like this tend to do when one is old.


And that’s just one more reason I know I’m getting older and more like my dad; when it’s those little things, insignificant things, the things that really have no bearing on my health or happiness, that get under my skin the most.


Yes, I’m getting old, but that’s the goal, right? So, I guess if I’m going to enjoy my “second half,” I need stop looking in the mirror, get those tests, screenings and vaccinations, keep moving, shut off the TV and start singing along.


“Na, na, na-na, na, na … na, na na-na na … Na, na, na-na, na na, na, na-na, na, na …”

(This is going to take some practice.)


© 2024 David R. Haznaw

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