Saturday, December 5, 2009

So Where Do You Draw the Line?

Hello my equally demented amigos.

Recently one of my friends celebrated a birthday. On that occasion he remarked, "Yep. I've now crossed over from being just an old codger to officially being an old coot."

His remark started me thinking. Just where are the lines that determine what we should call people? Specifically, how do you know if a guy is a codger, a coot, a geezer, or just an ol' fart? Where are the lines of demarcation? At what age do you move from one to the other? These kind of questions keep me up at night.

At the front end of human existence it is somewhat easier to sort out. We are born and for the first little while we are referred to as "the baby" or "the infant," as in "Shut up and quit playing those bongo drums or you're going to wake up THE BABY!" That's the first stage. Babies just lay there doing nothing, looking like ugly little pink prunes for the first few weeks. Eventually they become "cuddlers." That's when they start to have some personality of their own and like to cuddle on your lap and play with your nose or rip off your glasses. The other name for them at this stage is "rug rats," as in, "Hey lady, your RUG RAT is chewing on my pants cuff again."

The next stage is "toddler." That comes when the little booger figures out how to pull himself up by holding on to something then lets go and "toddles" across the floor, much to the joy and amazement of his parents, grandparents, family friends, etc. The "toddler" stage lasts until the little guy really gets it up and moving. At that point he becomes just a "little kid." This stage lasts for quite a while, several years. In fact, it goes up until the "kid" hits 13. At that point he crosses the line into what will define him for the next 7 years--he's a "teenager." But there's no problem there. You at least know what to call him, and you have a good explanation for the insanity that he starts to exhibit. You say to your wife, "Well, what do you expect, Mildred? He's just a gol-darn TEENAGER and he acts just like your brother, Rudy, used to."

After 19 comes 20. You're no longer a "teenager" but you're also not yet an "adult." It's a weird age. You can be drafted into a war and sent off to die in a country whose name you can't pronounce but you can't go to the tavern to drown your sorrows. It's like the Twilight Zone for a year there. But then you turn 21 and are officially a full-blown, no-holds-barred "adult," and you stay that way for many years. Now I must stop for just a minute to take up term that has never been closely defined. One will occasionally hear the title "young buck" used to refer to guys anywhere between 19 and about 28 but the lines are fuzzy on both ends of the thing. I personally think that more research needs to be done to nail this thing down so that we don't use the term incorrectly.

"Adulthood" goes on interminably--through your 20s, your 30s, your 40s, and your 50s. Everything is the same, year after endless year. Oh sure, in your late 50s you start to lose hair on your head and gain it in your ears, eyebrows, and nostrils but other than that things stay pretty much the same. But then you hit 60. POW! That's when it hits you--"I'm getting really old."

I recently came across a website that I found somewhat helpful and I pass it on to you. Check out for a good read and lots of helpful information and big laughs. One helpful contribution is their subdivision of adulthood into three categories: "Whippers" (as in "whippersnappers") - ages 13-30, "Greenies" - ages 31-49, and "Edgers" - ages 50-59. They also offer a carefully reasoned argument about where the lines should be drawn between the aforementioned divisions of advanced old age; namely, coot, geezer, and codger. However, I was somewhat disappointed by the fact that the authors of that blogsite completely overlook the other obvious categories of fogy, fossil, old fart, old goat, senile old fool, and vegetable. Obviously, more research needs to be done.

Oh, I almost forgot. The old guys that wrote that article define "geezer" as 60-75 years, "codger" as 76-99, and "coot" as 100 on up. I don't know how they arrived at these conclusions but you can decide for yourself.

Me? I'm tired and am going to go lay down and take my morning nap and dream about the good ol' days back when I was a YOUNG BUCK.

Committed to the science of elderly studies,


  1. Hi Mike
    Glad to see you are back blogging again. When I first started disagreeing with you last year or whenever it was, I was a bit afraid I had chased you away. I'm glad to have over thought my importance. And that you are indeed back at it.

    re: being 29 for the tenth time - you should check out - great hats t-shirts etc that fit this frame of mind.
    best Jeff

  2. Hi Jeff. Welcome back. Yes, I'm still blogging, letting off steam, and polluting the ether-sphere with my weird ideas and strange theology. I'm glad you came back to check me out. I always appreciate your comments and rebuttals. Thanks for hanging in there with me. Thanks too for the suggestion.


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