There must be some psychological term for it, the feeling that as you hit a certain age you and your circle of friends cease to age (at least you do). And if you're a fan of this Pulitzer Prize-winning humorist, when you see the title Dave Barry Turns Fifty, your immediate reaction is: when did he get so old? Come, fellow boomer, coos Barry. Take my hand and let us travel together on a voyage of exploration into our very favorite topic, which is us. He strolls down memory lane as best he can but, hey, memory is one of the first things to go, you know? Or is it hearing? Or eyesight? I forget.
Speaking of bifocals, Barry suggests that diminishing eyesight can actually be a good thing. [W]ithout my reading glasses, the only part of the newspaper I can read is the headlines. After glancing at such horrible displays he realizes: I don't want to read those stories, and is relieved that they are written in letters the height of bacteria. Barry reminisces about many of the watershed events, fads, characters, and technologies, actual and sometimes absurd, in the years since his birth. Remember Ozzie and Harriet? Rotary phones that only came in black? Air raid drills at school? I know diving under desks ( which were apparently made out of some atomic-bomb-proof wood ) certainly made me feel safe. Following each of these chapters is a series of thinking points/ discussion questions such as Boy, postal service sure has improved since we got the ZIP code, huh? There are plenty of other observations Barry has to make, based on his half-century (which sounds much more impressive than 50 years) of accumulated knowledge: People who want to share their religious views with you almost never want you to share yours with them. Aside from his historical perspectives, Barry offers sage advice on such topics as putting the kids through school: Without a college education, your child will enter the job market with no useful skills; whereas with a college education, your child will enter the job market with no useful skills and parents who are hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. Barry has tackled themes before: Dave Barry's Book of Bad Songs, Stay Fit and Healthy Until You're Dead, and Dave Barry Turns Forty, to name a few. But with age comes wisdom, among other ailments. Over the years he has morphed from a young whippersnapper to an old curmudgeon. He's no longer the happy-go-lucky long-haired weirdo of his youth. Now the long hair sprouts from his ears. Getting older may be inevitable, but as Barry shows, there's no reason to take it with a straight face.