Over the next five days or so I will touch on what I think are the five things that Baby Boomers miss the most from their youth.
Everybody will have their own opinions. Men will differ from women. "Scholars" will differ from "Jocks." "Right Wingers" will differ from the "Conservatives." Arizonans" will differ from "New Yorkers."
No matter what your opinion is, I bet that these are things we truly loved. These are things that, for a time, were sewn into the fiber of our lives. These are things we enjoyed and took for granted.
Overall, these are things I bet everyone wishes they could go back and have all over again.
1. Playing Sports
I apologize up front, but the first thing I am going to talk about is, for all intents and purposes, considered a "Man Thing." Playing sports, to me, is hard-wired into the male brain.
Men are born with the drive to be competitive and to win. We are obsessed with being the fastest, the strongest, the nimblest and in the end the best. Playing organized sports have always been the easiest way to do just that.
In our youth, it didn't matter if the sport involved hitting a three-inch hard sphere thrown at you at almost 100 mph, lofting a 16-pound plastic ball down a 60-foot alley to knock down heavy wooden pins or tackling a 300 pound gorilla carrying a leather sausage under his arm trying to run you over to reach your side of the playing field.
All that mattered was that we were good enough to beat the next guy. But as we aged, our ability to play sports (without major physical damage) at a highly elevated competitive level changed. Our bodies were no longer what they used to be so we adapted.
Our once blossoming careers in fast pitch baseball evolved into slow pitch softball. The 16 pound bowling ball we used to raise proudly into the sky dropped down to 12 pounds. The art of tackling 300 pound gorillas was traded in for the safer sport of hitting little plastic golf balls 500 yards into little holes.
So what did we do? We adapted and we became coaches. Our children were growing up and playing Little League, AYSO Soccer and Pop Warner football. We taught them to be aggressive. We taught them how important it was to win. We lived vicariously through them.
But it was still sports. We ran drills, shagged fly balls and pitched batting practice. It still was all about the thrill of victory and winning. We competed right alongside our children. We fought against the other coaches. We got our exercise.
Then our kids grew up and joined their own high school and college teams. All we could do was watch.
And now, at the age of 58, competitive sports are just a memory of the past. As close as I get to playing in the "big game" is reliving the "glory days" of my youth with my buddies over a glass of beer and a cigar.
I miss those days. My body doesn't, but my psyche does.
I know there are "senior" sports I could be playing but I guess I just don't have the time or that need for the adrenaline rush anymore. Plus, I would look rather silly standing at shortstop in baggy baseball shorts with my knobby knees all bandaged up and a brace on my elbow, squinting to see the ball coming at me.
Today, I proudly watch sports. I am an armchair quarterback. I am the king of fantasy football. Now, instead of dreaming about playing in the World Series or the Superbowl, I travel the world to watch these great sporting events live.
I don't have to play in them. But, I do miss them. I miss them sorely.
And I know a lot of Baby Boomer men feel the same as I do. Every time I get together with my old "softball gang," we revisit all of the great games we won with walk off hits, once in a lifetime triple plays and the "Mighty Casey" home run strokes.
Then we turn to each other while watching a ball game on TV and say, "Man do those kids look young!"
Well, my grandkids are almost old enough to start T-Ball.
In the meantime, checkers, anyone?