Herald and Journal, March 13, 2000

Paul McCartney: Don't call this 'rocker' old yet


What is this world coming to?

This week I saw Paul McCartney's picture on the cover of "Modern Maturity" magazine.

Oh, Pauly, say it isn't so!

Yes, it's him, all right. There he sits, gazing into the camera. He is seated with his back against a block wall. His hair is long, but not the Beatle cut of his younger days. The inquisitively arched eyebrows are the same, but now, there are crow's feet crowding in around the corners of the eyes.

When I look into those eyes, it takes me back a long, long way. I'm a teenager again.

Of course, you know what this means. If one of the icons of my teenage years is mature, then I must be, too. Naturally, I prefer the term "mature" to "old."

I remember when I was much younger and my brother-in-law, Dick, asked me if I knew how to tell if I was mature. I had never really thought about it, or even worried about it, for that matter. I knew my kids would age me as nothing else could!

Dick told me, "You know you're mature when you stop wondering if you are mature."

I don't think I had thought about his maturity question since then. Not until I saw Paul's picture under that big, red, "maturity," on the magazine cover.

What does modern maturity really mean, anyway? Can you be mature and modern at the same time? Isn't that a contradiction?

Maybe it's the magazine publisher's way of sucking in a few baby boomers. Put a '60s rocker on the cover and you are sure to pique the interest of at least a few of us. I don't think there will be too many of us trading in our "Rolling Stone" subscriptions just yet, though.

Mind you, I didn't buy the magazine with Paul on the cover. I brought it in from the mailbox for my mother-in-law. The little blurb inside about Paul was part of a "How I Create" theme. There were other creative people featured, too.

When I think about it, my life and times seem to be defined by rock and roll icons. I remember when my sister, Penny, was a teenager and she listened to Elvis Presley records with her girlfriends. I became an instant Elvis fan, though I was only nine or 10 at the time.

As I grew up, it just didn't seem possible that Elvis would age, but he did. I remember how shocked I was when I heard that he had died.

I was standing in the kitchen, frying chicken and listening to the radio when I heard the news. I was dumfounded. It couldn't be true. It had seemed to me that Elvis was bigger than life.

Some time later I heard a country group, the Statler Brothers, sing, "When Elvis died, we knew we could, too" in one of their songs. I knew exactly what they meant. Elvis was mortal. So were we. His passing was proof of it.

Paul McCartney and the Beatles were the great rock icons of my teen years. I have their albums and I have followed their lives and careers since the band broke up. I made it a point to take the "Beatles Walk" tour when I was in London with my daughters last year.

When I think of the Beatles now, I still picture the young Beatles, just as I picture the young Elvis.

There is only one thing I have to say in favor of getting older. It's better than the alternative, which is not getting any older.

My siblings and I delight in sending each other insulting birthday cards, poking fun at the recipient's age. One of the best I have seen was given to me by my somewhat younger sister, Kyle.

On the front there are two lizards. One exclaims to the other, "Hey, I know what we can do! Let's get older!"

You open the card and inside it says, "You go first!"

Yeah! Yeah! Yeah, Paul! You go first!

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