The Road to 50 – Who’s Joining Us

Turning50

 

Now that turning 50 has taken root in my thoughts, I can’t help but wonder who else is in the same boat as me.  Luckily, the advent and subsequent popularity of social media has created an unprecedented network of peers.  I can watch high school friends, childhood friends and family members age right along with me.  I can get all up in your personal business…and I do.  I can see who’s trying to keep fit, eat healthy, and evolve their personal style.  I could develop comprehensive peer-to-peer benchmark reports from Facebook data alone if I wanted to.  But you’re already in the boat with me.  It’s not terribly exciting data.  I’ve spoken with many of you and received your comments on the last post to know how you are handling the big 5-0.  So my mind has turned to more trivial matters.  Like who are my peers in Hollywood and media?  How are they holding up?  Are they aging gracefully or getting some custom maintenance?  If I were single and on the market, who could I dupe into going out with me?  How do I stack up physically with the dudes?  Let’s take a look at who will be joining us in Club 50 in 2015 and play a little Could I Date Her/Could I Take Him:

Baltimore native son Muggsy Bogues turns 50 in January
Baltimore native son Muggsy Bogues turns 50 in January

Baltimore native sun Muggsy Bogues turns 50 in January.  Muggsy and his Dunbar High teammates stole plenty of joy from us Walbrook Warriors.  I thought we had a pretty good team back then but we could never get past the Poets.  I’m not quite sure what he is doing with himself these days, but Muggsy is looking older than 50.  I expect more from a former athlete.  Could I take him?  Physically, I think I can take Muggsy if I can keep him from going low.  At 5’3″, if he gets me around the ankles, I’m done for.

Diane Lane turns 50 in January
Diane Lane turns 50 in January

Actress Diane Lane hits 50 in January.  She is still in great shape and doesn’t appear to have augmented anything.  But what do I know.  Could I date her?  I think so.  I’m charming, well traveled (in the eastern United States), and she looks like she might enjoy a glass of fine wine, something that I’m great at pretending to know a little something about.

Sarah Jessica Parker turns 50 in March
Sarah Jessica Parker turns 50 in March

The star of Sex in the City will reach the half century mark in March.  Always the style icon, SJP keeps it together.  She must eat like a bird and train like an athlete to keep that shape.  Could I date her?  Probably.  She’s married to Matthew Broderick…what more do I need to say?

Iron Man's 50th is in April
Iron Man’s 50th is in April

I wish I could turn 50 like Robert Downey Jr.  I admire his style.  Always dapper.  And some killer eye-wear!  The one-time drug abusing bad boy of Hollywood has really turned his life and career around and I respect that. And he is in fantastic shape.  Could I take him?  Doubtful.  He’s probably learned some fight techniques during his Iron Man training that my Cherry Hill, Baltimore hustle, Bruce Lee movie osmosis thing can’t keep up with.  Doesn’t mean I wouldn’t give it my best shot.

Dang Gina! turns 50 in April
Dang Gina! turns 50 in April

Comedic genius Martin Lawrence joins our club in April as well.  From stand-up comedy to television to box office Hollywood hits, Martin Lawrence has experienced great success.  I don’t think I ever admired his fashion style though.  Nothing wrong with it.  I just prefer a more classic look.  Can I take him?  Yes.  Looks like success has made ol’ Marty Mar a little soft.  Plus, when has a comedian ever scared you?  I could take him while even having consumed a couple of Vesper martinis.

The CNN anchor is 50 in May
The CNN anchor is 50 in May

CNN anchor Fredricka Whitfield is beautiful, stylish, and appears to be defying age.  Qualities that you need if you are going to have longevity in television broadcasting.  Let’s be honest, no one at Syracuse University cares about what I look like sitting behind my desk or behind a radio microphone.  The pressure on women it the television broadcast industry is palpable so she has to stay on top of it.  Could I date her?  Yes.  I just need an “in”.  Broadcast media is my “in”.  After a couple glasses of wine and a lengthy discussion on digital disruption of traditional broadcast media…BAM!…she won’t know what hit her.

The Walking Dead's Carol is 50 three days after me in May
The Walking Dead’s Carol is 50 three days after me in May

Melissa McBride, one of the stars of AMC’s The Walking Dead, will turn 50 three days after I do in May.  She’s in great shape and I love how she rocks the salt and pepper pixie cut.  It is most likely for TWD show but you get an idea of what she would look like if she decided to maintain a natural look.  Much like the way actress Jamie Lee Curtis did and does.  Could I date her?  Probably not.  I’m such a huge fan of the show that I would most likely trip over my words, geek out during a meeting, and mistakenly refer to her as Carol.  Immediate turn off don’t you think?

Dwayne Wayne joins the club in July
Dwayne Wayne joins the club in July

Kadeem Hardison, AKA Dwayne Wayne, is another of our contemporaries.  He turns 50 in July.  Over the years, the kid with the flip-up sunglasses has experienced some significant shifts in weight.  He’s rocking a natural salt & pepper look like us average Joes.  His personal style says that he maintains a deep connection to his hometown, Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn.  I can respect that.  Can I take him?  Yup.  Dwayne Wayne is looking a little soft these days.  Plus, he’s tall at 5’11”.  If I can get down around his ankles… game over.

Viola is 50 in August
Viola is 50 in August

No one’s spark is hotter than Viola Davis right now.  As she approaches 50 this coming August, her maturity as an actress positions her nicely for diverse roles.  She can take it from the matronly servant to the energetic power broker.  And she doesn’t look 50.  But you know what they say about it not cracking.  She has a beautiful smile and keeps the body tight.  Though my wife Angela says that she has never seen her in a wig that compliments her.  Looking good at 50 though.  Could I date her?  I don’t know.  She seems too serious.  I might come across to goofy and immature.  But if I can get her to sit with me on a park bench and talk about people as they walk by…I have a shot.

I know that I a lot these folks don’t keep regular schedules like we do and have plenty of time to work with personal trainers and have personal stylists, but they inspire me to enter my 50’s fit and in style.  Fit at 50.  That’s my goal.

 

The Road to 50 (Intro)

Road

 

Back in May of 2014, I wrote a somewhat humorous post on the angst of turning 49.  Some 8 months later, I now sit 119 days away from turning 50 and the angst is still very real.  Considering that most of my friends and associates are about the same age, this is a conversation that I have had on numerous occasions.  Inevitably, the “age is just a number” comment comes into play.  As does, “you are only as old as you feel.”  To which I say, “bullshit”!

Despite what nonsense people spout, 50 is not the new 40.  50 is 50 and it has a psychological impact on you whether you admit it or not.  My mind is too curious to carry on about my day, about my life as if nothing changes when that half-century mark hits.  I want to know what to expect both physically and emotionally in the months and years that follow.  I hope that, in understanding the possible impact, I am better able to deal with the change in life.  The Man Up blog will chronicle my journey of discovery and neuroticism, my thought process and emotional vicissitudes from today until May 20 (the 50 mark).  I hope you will join me and share your experiences as well.

50For a lot of men, the concern of aging isn’t out of fear of getting old.  It’s a fear of losing potency.  The image of ourselves that we hold on to is one of a strapping young, virile man with energy and stamina for days and it does not jibe with the image that we see in the mirror.  The number 50 is a marker.  A midlife marker that distorts our self-image.  We’ve likely lived more than half of our lives with key markers along the way: finishing school; getting that first career job, pair bonding, child rearing etc. Those markers are ones that we expect and plan for.  For many, at least for me, 50 represents the unknown.  How will my career wind down?  What will I do in retirement?  Can I retire the way I want?  Do I have enough resources?  Will I be alone?  When will I be alone?  When will I lose virility?  That thing about 50 being the new 40 is so untrue.  At 40, you still have relatively young children, a good 25 years or so of work ahead of you,  perhaps even another career move, and many more things to accomplish.  With 50, the window becomes shorter.  Younger, more talented people enter the workplace with highly developed skills.  Your years of experience in the new technology environment becomes less valued.  Technology itself begins to slip away from you.  Your music choices become more nostalgic.  People start calling you “sir”.  Dinner out starts at 6 o’clock.  You’re in bed by 9 p.m.  Multivitamins, Ensure and adult diapers are on the horizon.

50 one

 

50 represents change and, for men, change is not growth.  For men, change represents the loss of something.  In this case, the loss of time, the loss of virility, the loss of potency, the loss of effectiveness.  I feel like I can still walk up to a young Mike Tyson and kick his ass…in my mind.  But it doesn’t reconcile with my cracking bones, aching feet and arthritic knuckles.  Yeah, 50 is screwing with me.  I’m not going to lie.

For me, 50 is going to be a time of self-reflection.  From what will I derive satisfaction?  How can I be a better lover?  A better father?  A greater contributor to life, community, and business.  I will learn to live with a new reality.  Cope with the aches and pains and mood swings.

Quite a bleak outlook, I know.  I also know that we have advantages over our fathers and grandfathers before us.  We have better healthcare so we are living longer and healthier.  We have more tools in the tool box like the internet and access to research, studies and articles.  Greater income to do more things and acquire more shit.  We also have an openness and willingness to talk about how we feel and what we are going through with our partners and friends.

In the weeks to come, I will dive deep into the abyss to discover what lies ahead for me over the next 10-15 years.  Perhaps I’ll learn a few things that will help me cope and better prepare or discover the secrets to juvenescence.  Or consider it all rejectamenta and just drink more wine.

If you’ve already crossed that marker, I’d love to hear about your experience.  If 50 is staring you in the face, I’d equally love to know your concerns, if any.

Until next time Hominids…keep it on the good foot!

Turnt Up Like James Bond

Bond2

Agent 007 James Bond is one of the coolest, stylish icons of masculine sophistication that we have ever encountered, no?  Ian Fleming’s character is the perfect representation of charm and wit paired with destructive ability.  Whether osculating with a Bond girl on a yacht or chasing bad guys in an Aston Martin, 007 did it with style and with a statement.

Fleming was intentional in creating signatures for Bond.  The Aston Martin.  The Walther PPK.  The martini.  Flemming knew that the audience would make the associations with Bond’s signatures that he wanted them to make.  A common understanding that Bond was a man of class and sophistication with a license to kill.

We’ve heard him say “shaken, not stirred” 50 times or more.  The martini was Bond’s signature drink.  Like Bond, the martini says elegant and strong.  Fleming went so far as to create a specific martini for Bond – the Vesper Martini – named after a character in the 1953 novel, and subsequent film, Casino Royale.  I’ll get into the Vesper in a minute.

Agree or disagree, I think what we choose to drink in social situations reveals something about us more than we would like to admit.  It makes a statement.  And what we choose to drink while socializing is as varied as the social occasions themselves.  There are literally thousands of drinks, cocktails, spirits and wines to choose from and it can be daunting.  So we fall back on what we know or try something from the bar menu.  Every man, who wants to make a statement, should have a signature drink.  A drink that makes a very intentional statement at that.

Scene from the movie Brown Sugar
Scene from the movie Brown Sugar

Remember the bar scene in the movie Brown Sugar when the main characters, Sid and Dre, ordered drinks for each other?  She orders him a Kettle One, straight, with a twist.  He ordered her a Perfect 10.  The writer wanted us to feel the repressed intimacy between the two characters and did so by having each know the other’s signature drink.  And those cocktails made statements about each.

What are you saying when you order a beer?  That you are down to earth?  A regular guy?  Does a craft beer suggest that you enjoy the finer things in life?  That you savor quality?  If you are in a bar in the dead of winter and order a margarita, does it say I wish I were in Cabo right now?  Do you order wine just to be safe?  Rare scotch to say that you are accomplished and worldly?  Does your drink suggest that you just got out of college or haven’t grown since those days? (hello Red Bull and Vodka).  Or are you indecisive and wishy-washy and just order what everyone else is having?

I’m not suggesting what you should drink or that you drink at all.  I am suggesting that you consider that your choice makes a statement and if you are going to make a statement, make it an intentional one.  For example, in a recent bartender blog, Jordan Catapano explains that a man who asks to see the wine list usually has interest in art, culture, and travel.  But if he orders the house varietal, he may need a bit more grooming.

Ingredients for a Vesper Martini
Ingredients for a Vesper Martini

My signature drink is the Vesper martini – James Bond style.  It is simply a variation on a classic martini which is my fall-back should the bar keep come up short on ingredients.  A signature drink like a classic martini says you know exactly what you like.  That you perhaps are discerning, particular and sophisticated with a slight hint of douche-baggery.

The Vesper Martini
The Vesper Martini

The Vesper Martini, described by James Bond in Casino Royale, is 3 ounces of London Dry Gin, 1 ounce of Vodka and a 1/2 ounce of Lillet (bianco).  Lillet is a dry vermouth made in France since the 1800’s.  It is made of wine, liqueurs, fruits and herbs and aged in oak. The Vesper is garnished with a lemon peel.  Given the 3 ounces of gin and 1 ounce of vodka, you can imagine that it is a potent drink.  Make no mistake, it’s a man’s drink.  And while one or two might suggest sophistication, 3 or more says you have a drinking problem.  So please be responsible with this signature.

Do you have a signature drink?  What do you think it says about you if anything?  I am a curious fellow so please do share.

If you are meeting friends for a drink, what are you likely to select: