Wait a minute, when did I become the old guy?


Joe Bushue is a travel agent and lifelong Gresham resident who has been tolerating multiple sclerosis for 30-plus years. His column recounts some of the humorous sides of his disability and his slants on life in general. Reach him by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

It crept up on me, unnoticed, and I realized it had been going on for a while. I had become 'the old guy.'

This really hit me when I realized that I reached the age where my doctors, lawyer, accountant and most everyone else I counted on for health and business information had become younger than me.

This became apparent when I was at the bank one day talking to a new loan manager. As we were discussing some business and financial matters, I suddenly had the sinking feeling that he was so much younger than me, he probably should be asking me if I would co-sign a loan for him so he could buy his first car.

I went to get a complete physical one day, expecting to see a wise and seasoned Dr. Marcus Welby type. Instead, in walked a kid who looked more like Doogie Howser or the kid I chased out of my yard a few years ago. When he finished the exam, he told me something I really didn't want to hear: 'You're really in pretty good shape for someone your age.'

At first I was kind of insulted by that comment. Then I caught my reflection in the mirror and saw a guy who was about 40 pounds too heavy, had more scalp and forehead than hair, and definitely looked a lot older then I felt.

I knew things had changed when I actually caught myself enjoying a Lawrence Welk show rerun. When I was a kid we had no choice but to watch it and complained every time my parents made me. That show was for 'old people.'

I made my 10-year-old daughter watch it with me once. After about 10 minutes, when the audience was dancing, my daughter said, 'Gee, Dad, this is just like 'The Muppet Show,' only with real people.'

As I looked back, I realized this change didn't happen all at once. Even way back, I can recall sounding like the 'old guy' by saying some of the things I swore I would never say, such as, 'Because I said so!'

I guess that, as most 12-step programs claim, admitting you have a problem is the first step necessary to change. There are some things I can do so I don't become 'the old guy.' 'Old guys' are about as popular in a group as someone with a bad fever and hacking cough or infectious wounds.

One thing I've decided to never do is start a sentence with 'I remember when ...' or 'You think that's bad, you should have seen ...' Neither one of those can ever end in something that's not going to bore or really tick someone off. Even if you do mention that you remember gas at 40 cents a gallon, and add that the minimum wage was less than $2 an hour, nobody cares.

We all become 'the old guy' eventually, but we can do some things to avoid that happening any sooner than necessary. Don't sound like one. Don't say things like 'Well Ma, it's getting late, time to head for the barn.'

Well, I guess I've had my little soapbox say. It's getting kind of late. It's almost time for the late news at 8 p.m., then off to bed. For some reason, morning just seems to come earlier than it used to.