What does a mother say to a semiconscious son in the back of an ambulance on the way to the hospital to repair a broken left arm and dislocated shoulder? Sustained trying to cushion a 30ft headfirst dive from a tree house?
Mine said, and surely meant it far less harshly than it sounds here - "When will you start acting your age?"
I was all of nine at the time.
Well, I gave it my best shot, Mum. I honestly did. But 54 years later I don't think I ever will.
In fact, I think "Acting Your Age" is such a downright dumb idea I've stopped trying.
Because when I see all my fellow-sexagenarians -- and upwards -- acting theirs, I'm not happy. Not happy at all.
Even with secure pensions, solid retirement investments, paid-off mortgages and three cars that will outlive them, they still find things to grumble about.
If not about financial survival, then about health. If not about health, about rising crime. If not crime, about today's lousy music. About kids who no longer call. And if not about that then something else. And if not about something else, well...
Point made and taken?
Have we forgotten who we are?
Let me remind all you youngsters -- anyone under 51 qualifies -- we were the driving force behind the most radical decade in modern history. If in doubt study the events of 1968 when what used to be called "The West" almost collapsed.
There was far more to our "Swinging 60's" than Austin Powers and his "shagadelic delights". We demanded "Peace", "Love" and "Our" music and to a large extent fleetingly got them.
So are we ready now to give-up, pack-up, shut-up and fade quietly into oblivion? I don't think so. Well, I'm not. Not without a struggle.
Of course sociologists do claim as the very first TV generation we watch far too much of it.
The simple answer? Bobby McFerrin sang it and "Smiley-face" T-shirts proclaimed it for that brief glorious moment in the mid-80's, "Don't Worry. Be Happy."
Which leads seamlessly to today's self-examination.
I read somewhere we are solely and alone utterly responsible for our own face after the age of 50. So go to the mirror and examine yours in the "fully-relaxed" position.
Remember it's never too late to change.
And make today the first day of the rest of a life without a grunted "Uggghhh" or "Ahhhhhh" when sinking-into or struggling-out-of a TV recliner.
Born in 1939, Phil, a twice-devorced recovering alcoholic ex-advertising agency owner retired in 1992 to his self-converted French farmhouse hilltop sanctuary overlooking the incomparable 5-km-long Bay of St. Tropez. Click here to visit his website Age Is: but a number.
Copyright (c) 2002 Phil E. Woodpark - Reprinted by permission of Phil E. Woodpark.