Category / Memory Loss

Father working on computer while on train.

1. NOT SO HOSPITABLE. My youngest daughter recently took a train to New York city, and she described her process of deciding whom to sit next to if there were no row of seats she could have to herself. First, she looks for another teenaged girl, whom she assumes won’t mind having a kindred spirit by her side. Next, she looks for older women whose maternal instincts might prevent them from objecting to having a companion at their elbow for the journey. Finally, as a last resort, she’ll plop down next to a teenaged boy, as long as he looks like someone who won’t try to hit on her for the whole ride. I was shocked to learn that an older man in her father’s demographic wasn’t even in her consideration set. When I asked why, she explained, “Businessmen give you that annoyed look when you walk by their seat, like you’d better not dare to bother them while they work on their computers and phones.” I felt appalled that any man would glare so rejectingly at my daughter, until I remembered when I ride the train I probably use the same look to ward off other fathers’ teenagers.

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Teens girls wear lots of rings.

1. NOT SO SECRET WEAPONS. Like most fathers, I operate under the illusion that I could serve as my daughters’ protector if anyone gave us any sort of trouble when we’re out together. But when our family recently went out to see a play, and my girls were dressed to the nines, I noticed nearly every one of their fingers were adorned with metal rings of intimidating density, adorned with stones of daunting size. Of course, if I carried around that much hardware, my hands would ache, but my daughters didn’t seem to mind having their fingers weighed down. And as we walked the streets of Boston, my 15- and 17-year-old girls left me feeling as secure as a Mafia don whose henchmen carry brass knuckles in their pockets.

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Collage of man and dog resemblance.

1. PET TWIN. I know it’s a common observation that people look like their pets, but it was still a shock to me when my daughters saw a recent picture my wife had taken of our dog and said, “That looks just like Dad!” Of course I don’t see any resemblance between my physiognomy and a Yorkshire Terrier’s, but I am a little worried that others might draw the same conclusion my daughters did. At 54, I’m too settled with my looks to consider any extreme makeovers that might make me appear less canine-like, but I have made one important change. I no longer complain about the expense when my wife takes our dog to a professional groomer. I am suddenly very invested in making sure our little Yorkie always looks his best.

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Blogger with actors from Grumpy Old Men

1. TWO ROADS DIVERGING. As I proceed further into middle age, I now realize there are two paths you can take. The first is to remain young at heart and not resent the habits and tastes of the younger generations behind you as they gradually take over the world. My wife certainly seems to be traveling down this road. While others my age often complain about the young being so distracted by social media and their smartphones, they don’t know how to have real, look-you-in-the eye human interactions, she thinks it’s wonderful that technology has created new ways to connect that she believes don’t replace, but rather supplement, old forms of communicating. Of course, the other path one can take is to gradually transform into a crank, constantly lamenting about how far modern times fall short of the good old days. Yes, when I insist my oldest daughter has to turn off that “horrible” rap music she listens to or I wonder why some beautiful young person would cover their skin with tattoos, I realize I’m traveling on the path to grumpy old man-dom. I’m not sure whether I’ll ever be able to overhaul my opinions to the point that I could consider the “music” created by a rapper like Childish Gambino equal to the brilliance of Neil Young or Van Morrison, and as someone who grew up on George Carlin and Richard Pryor, I’ll probably never be able to muster more than a snarky, disapproving chuckle at the “humor” of YouTube sensations like Jake and Amir. But to avoid the risks of being perceived as nothing more than a disgruntled geezer, I have decided that when talking to my children I will no longer start sentences with phrases like, “In my day…” or “You kids today…” Baby steps.

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Family hanging ornaments on Christmas tree.

1. BULB CONFUSION. Every year, at this time of year, I remember that I forgot to follow through on the vow I made to myself the year before: take a quickie electronics course before Christmastime arrives so I won’t have to waste hours trying to figure out how to get all the bulbs on our tree to light up.

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Ice skating at a rink.

1. ROLLER DERBY ON ICE. From afar, the outdoor ice rink where my daughters and I go to skate can look like something out of a Currier and Ives card – people of all ages bundled up in coats, hats and mittens, having fun across the frozen surface, while onlookers lean on the walls of the rink, sipping steaming hot chocolates. Once you’re on the ice, though, it can feel like you’ve been dropped into a scene from the movie Slapshot …. (more)

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Father with carload of kids

1. FULLY AWARE. It’s often been said that people don’t appreciate what they have until they’re about to lose it. I certainly didn’t think chauffeuring my kids would fall into that category. But now that my eldest is on the verge of getting her license, I don’t complain when my daughters and their friends ask me to taxi them around town. I know I’m about to lose my only opportunity to discover what’s going on with their lives!

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