By Sy Rosen: Lately I've noticed a lot of news stories that seem to focus on someone's age, and I'm not sure I like it.
Lately I've noticed a lot of news stories that seem to focus on someone's age, and I'm not sure I like it: A 90-year-old woman votes, a couple with a combined age of 181 get married, two men in their 80s get in a fistfight on a tennis court, a 92-year-old goes to the World Series and a 101-year-old man buys a new Camaro (I wonder if he got the extended warranty).
I guess what's annoying me is that the only thing that seems to make these stories newsworthy is the person's age. What's next — a 91-year-old man eats a Big Mac? Why is age a characteristic that's singled out? We don't see stories like "Man with beard bowls 250."
Are they saying that age is an obstacle we have to overcome, and therefore it's newsworthy if we're able to do anything? But being old is not an obstacle. I can do anything I was able to do when I was younger (except maybe find my car in the parking lot).
Maybe they're categorizing some of these stories as inspirational. But an old guy going to the World Series isn't an inspiration; it's just baseball. Of course, there are some inspirational stories about older people. Stories like "88-year-old woman fights off mugger with her walker." In these dangerous times, that story certainly inspired me. No, not to stand up to a mugger but to hire that feisty lady as a bodyguard.
If most of these stories aren't in the "overcoming obstacles" or "inspirational" categories, what are they exactly? What they are — and I hate to say it — is cute. They are the "can you believe it?" stories in the news, like the dog that found its way home across three states or the cat that raised a baby duck. Old people are becoming lost dog and cat/duck stories. And when these stories are told on local TV, the newspeople chuckle and wink. I feel like beating them over the head with a walker. I don't want to be a cute old guy.
Maybe I'm turning into one of those people who gets angry and complains about everything ... kind of like Andy Rooney on steroids. Actually, maybe Rooney is on steroids; that would explain the massive eyebrows.
Maybe what I'm really getting upset about is not that older people are in the news but that I'm getting old. I went to lunch with my friend Larry to talk about this. He's 66 and a little sensitive about his age.
We met at our favorite restaurant, and after we finished complaining about the economy, our doctors, our table near the kitchen, the air conditioning blowing on our heads and the soup being cold, I asked Larry if I was overreacting to these "old" stories.
"Why are you asking me?" he angrily replied.
"I don't know. Because ... because ... "
"Because I'm old?" he interrupted.
"No, no, well, yeah. I mean, we're both kind of old."
"Hey," Larry said, "60 is the new 40."
"Who said that?" I asked.
"A 60-year-old," Larry replied, and we both laughed.
I decided not to mention to Larry that he is 66.
"So you think I'm overreacting about this whole "old-newsworthy" thing?"
"I think the important thing to remember is that we're not old," Larry said. "We're not even close to being old."
"That's a good point," I said.
We then finished our meals, asked for our senior discount and left.
Rosen, who has written for "The Bob Newhart Show," "The Wonder Years," "Frasier" and many other TV shows, is a playwright in Los Angeles.