The big 8-1

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(HOST) Lately, commentator Bill Seamans has been contemplating the phenomenon that occurs when you accumulate enough birthdays that everyone around you starts to look like a little kid.

(SEAMANS) We understand that President Bush has had some profound introspective moments upon reaching his big “6-0” – even joking about it with White House reporters. At a recent news conference he said, “I’ll take the first question from anyone who is at least sixty…” Well, Mr. President, you may someday feel that reaching your 60th milestone was just a bump in the road – just wait until you reach your big “8-1” as I did this past weekend. Thinking back I have tried to remember when I first noticed symptoms of the journey that has brought me to the venerable state of fourscore and one.

It seems to have begun in the later years of my adventures as an ABC News foreign corespondent when the first army kid somewhere – he could have been American, Arab, Israeli or any of the others in the UN – when that first army kid said, Can I help you sir?” – then gave me a butt-boost up into an army vehicle. Suddenly the battalion and company commanders began looking like college kids, the platoon lieutenants looking like recent high school graduates.

Another youth in a white coat with a plastic badge that said “M.D.” on it smilingly said, “Not to worry sir, you’re in a transitory state of denial – It’s normal – As a matter of fact aging is becoming very stylish. All the best people are doing it!”

About that time, I slowly became aware that my alma maters, Brown and Columbia, were taking an intimate interest in my welfare – that is, my financial welfare! My alumni mail began focusing my attention on something called “the charitable remainder trust.” It’s amazing how they avoid talking directly about that sensitive legal document called The Will. On the other hand, I was encouraged to look at the full half of the glass when I became aware of the ubiquitous “senior discount.” Then the State of New Hampshire decided that I really should “Live FREE or Die” because I dwell on Lake Spofford. They softened me up even more with one of those FREE fishing licenses with which the state honors its ancient anglers.

And who could avoid the American Association of Retired Persons mailing list which brought me the news that we venerables are becoming so numerous that – and I quote – “We’re wielding a new influence in Washington where the Gray Power lobby has made itself heard.”

I finally became a true venerable when my grandchildren (all very grown up now!) persuaded me during a rollicking birthday celebration, to enshrine the nickname they had given me when they were kids. So I got a set of vanity plates bearing the letters “G.B.”….

Now, if you see a silver Prius Hybrid on the road with New Hampshire license plates “G.B.,” you’ll know that’s me – Gran’pa Billy!!!! – enjoying his big “8-1”.

Bill Seamans is a former correspondent and bureau chief for ABC News in the Middle East.

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