Monday, June 11, 2012


So: Some time this month (but NOT today), I will turn 59. Not 60, not 58, but FIFTY-NINE. The reason I'm drawing attention to the number is that I've been noticing a kind of ... maybe ... something of a ... possible ... TREND. It began a year ago, when a friend wished me for my 60th (with the best of intentions) and then apologized when I said that number was still 2 years away.

I didn't -- and don't -- mind! But many people are hung up about their age. Many women, in particular, treat the subject of their age as if it were their most precious crystal-ware, something that must not even be breathed upon and certainly must not to be mentioned in polite company. 

I really do not understand any of that. *shrug* Whatever. 

This year, someone else assumed that I would be entering the Six-Oh decade this month. So I corrected her. My birth year is 1953: hence there's one more year (and a few days) before I get there. I don't mind the mistake, but (like the spelling of my name) I think it's worth correcting. 

It got me to thinking about this number, this year, my 59th. Here's part of what I wrote to the one who wished me this week, about my response to each passing decade:

I remember the huge chasm that divided 9 from 10 -- the supreme excitement I felt upon reaching DOUBLE DIGITS!!!!

Then 19 to 20 was BIG too. No longer a teen. Childhood a distant dream (or nightmare). On the doorstep of majority.

29 to 30 was absolutely IMMENSE for me, for all kinds of reasons.

39 to 40 was an excellent transition. I had loved my 30s and loved my 40s even more.

After that, needless to say, passing the half-century mark was ... astounding. Humbling. Life-changing (haha). 

But now ... 59? I can't recall anyone making a big deal about arriving at 59. Of course all those earlier dates were from the "9"s to the "10"s but -- if you see what I mean -- the ten was so massive that the nine before it acquired a certain glittery thrill. 

59? Most people, I suspect, are going to treat it as "... oh, you're NOT 60 yet?" I mean, already, the friendly person at the Bonanza Bus ticket counter (in Newport, RI) has asked me, "Senior rates, right?" I smile sweetly and say, "Uhh ... not yet."

With all of this vaguely negative weight bearing down on the number 59, I thought it may be time to show it a little love.

To acknowledge that I'm grateful to have lasted so long. In reasonable good health and nearly always good humour. With a fair number of good friends and an astonishingly large crowd of Family. Still growing too -- I have two niecelets now, one seven and the other just turned one. 

Plus, I like both the numbers that make up 59, FIVE as well as NINE. I have a fondness for primes and a special fondness for 5 because it's so friendly, so reliable -- like a precisely ticking clock -- its multiplication table so gentle on the nerves that it takes no effort at all to know it.

As for 9! Whoa. It's got quasi-magical qualities, for which reason it is so often at the heart of number-puzzles. Its multiplication table isn't quite as obvious as 5's but it's still very cool. For instance the digits add up to 9 -- you know: 18 (1+8 = 9); 27 (2+7=9) etc. There's a lot of stuff like that connected with nine. 

And the other thing I like about 59 is the sense of being on the brink of the abyss ... SIXTY! Woof!

I mean, 60 is such a huge, old, old age ... I mean, really and truly SIXTY? Wow.

Part of my continual excitement about my birthday, every year, is that I never expected to live very long. I honestly didn't think I'd make it past 30. Yet here I am, close to being one year away from DOUBLE THIRTY.

Not quite there yet, but one year away. One measly year.

(and I may not make it. Who knows? There are no guarantees. Except the fact that there are no guarantees).