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Steely Dan would say at age 66 I’m reelin’ in the years but am I elderly?
jack La lAnne
Jack La Lanne during his “Super Swim Handcuffed Shackled Alcatraz to Wharf” swim in 1974. He was 60 years old at the time.

I am old enough to collect Social Security.

I reached the advocacy age that the American Association of Retired Persons targets 16 years ago.

I am also a two-time great-grandparent.

But am I elderly?

In eight months, I’ll be 67.

That’s prehistoric for anyone under 8.

It’s one foot in the grave to teens.

And for some 90-year-olds I know it’s the age of whippersnappers.

What triggered all this was a story we ran on Tuesday.

It was about a 19-year Lathrop man even though calling him a “man” does a great disservice to those of the same gender that conduct themselves in a civilized manner.

The “man” was accompanying his girlfriend’s mother who decided it would be fun in her apparently intoxicated state to fire shots at passing cars.

At one pointed the 19-year-old came across a couple — a man who is 68 and a woman who is 66. He is accused of physically assaulting them, pushing the woman to the ground causing injuries, and then grabbing a pair of hedge clippers to threaten their lives.

I did not write the story. Jason Campbell did.

But I was editing and had to write a headline.

I cringed when I read the first paragraph characterizing the victims as an “elderly couple.”

But after reading the entire story — Lathrop Police were charging the 19-year-pold with elderly abuse — I thought I was being a tad sensitive.

I refrained from using elderly in the headline and referred to them as “a couple in their late 60s”.

I did  not change the “elderly couple” reference given it was a clear reference to the charge of elderly abuse.
I’m going to take a slight detour for a minute to talk about “pile on charges” although this is about what defines a person as being elderly.

The  elderly abuse charge is an enhancement to the basic crime of assaulting another human being. Usually, district attorneys use them as bargaining chips to reach plea deals. They offer to drop the enhancement crime to get an accused individual to pleads to a lesser crime in terms of consequences.

The penalty for an assault such as what occurred in Lathrop should be the same whether the victims were in their teens, late 40s, or late 60s.

The reason we have the enhancements because unlike Baretta’s advice of “don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time”, most who commit crimes these says believe they have a right to pick between three doors and make a deal Monte Hall style.

An assault should not be colored by a person’s age. At the same time if one does a crime they should be expected to pay the price.

But I digress.

I do not see — or feel — 66 is elderly for a lot of people including myself.

Yes, I have age spots.

I have earned each and every strand of gray hair.

And, yes, I am almost a half century older than a 19-year-old.

Yet I’m willing to bet there are people a lot younger than me closer to a wheelchair simply based on lifestyles they have embraced.

No, I am not going to lecture about video games, noses in smartphones, and such.

Each generation has its own unique twist on the Seven Deadly Sins that include being sloth.

If that has you running to a dictionary, excuse me I meant asking Alexa, to find out what that means don’t forget to hang up your smartphone when you’re through.

We date ourselves based on our slang.

That said the four letter words we all seem to toss around today as if they are the chorus for a modern-day Gregorian chant are far from cutting edge.

It’s just that 50 years ago they were uttered by sailors, roughnecks, and kids that would find out mothers can do many things with soap that Proctor & Gamble never envisioned.

I know that we all slow down as we reel in the years as Steely Dan would sing.

But I know I have more physical stamina and such than when I was in my teen years.

That comes from not fully appreciating what gifts youth gives you when you are younger.

Many of us squander our youth.

That said, I come across people that have more years on the odometer that can put me to shame.

Age is indeed a state of mind as much as it is numerical tabulation.

It is also how you play the DNA you’ve been dealt.

On the first day of the hiking in the Eastern Sierra, I was distracted by a man getting out of a car next to mine.

He let me know that “at his age” I’d probably cover more territory quicker hiking up to the pass then he would.

When he shared he was 61 and I told him I was 66, he said I looked like I was 51.

If he was stroking my ego, it wasn’t working.

We ended up hiking up to the pass together. It was a major departure for me as my preference is to go solo.

I prefer that for two reasons. I like the solitude and I don’t want to slip into the male ego trap of feeling I can’t show that I can’t keep up whether the person is my age, 10 years older, or in their teens.

At any rate, the 61-year-old had a tree service in the Bay Area and was a hardcore amateur botanist.

I learned a lot and even enjoyed other tidbits of conversation even though that is the last thing I’m looking for when I head up a mountain.

It was clear I was a bit better off in the aerobic fitness end of things. But when it came time for him to scramble up mountain near the pass — his goal for the day — I declined the invitation.

It entailed a large chunk of Class 3 scrambling I am challenged physically to do in a manner I feel safe.

That’s where we parted ways.

I definitely wouldn’t say he was anywhere near being elderly although under state law regarding crimes committed against people he’ll be there in four years.

As for me, I’m sure a lot of 19 year-olds can keep up with me and then some.

This is not ego.

It’s just that our age isn’t a true reflection of fragileness. What you do with your mind and body can change the clock to a degree.

I certainly could never be a Jack LaLanne.

Lalanne at 92 lifted more weights than most half his age.

LaLanne at 60 swam from the mainland to Alcatraz handcuffed, shacked and with a 1,000 pound belt tied to a belt around his waist.

Would anyone in their right mind call a 68-year-old Lalanne elderly if he were assaulted by a 19-year-old?


This column is the opinion of editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinions of The Bulletin or 209 Multimedia. He can be reached at