Old Anxiety


bz panel 02-19-14

Bizarro is brought to you today by And Poor Spelling?

To my thinking, growing older is the greatest mindfuck in the human experience.

I can’t speak for everyone, of course, but for me, even though I’m in my mid-fifties, I don’t feel any older inside my head than I did when I was 21. My father, who is 78, reports the same experience. I’ve never completely felt like a “grown up,” except during times when I’m putting up with things like divorce, death, financial chaos, trying to make sense of mail I get from the IRS, etc. But when I put on a suit and talk to a loan officer, lawyer, my accountant, a judge, what have you, I always feel like a kid pretending to be an adult and I hope no one notices. Is it possible that the authority figure I’m talking to is doing the same thing? Is that judge wearing an Incredible Hulk T-shirt under his robe?

Additionally, I don’t think I look as old as my parents’ generation did when they were my age. (Of course, in their high school senior pictures from 1955* they look older than I do now.) From my perspective, since I’ve looked at myself every day for so many decades, I have no objectivity, no way of knowing if that is true or if it is an optical illusion caused by denial. When I look in the mirror, I see an aging man who looks a lot like me (and way too much like my father!) but given how vividly I can remember being in high school or when my first daughter was born, I don’t see how it can be. Speaking of my first daughter, she’s 30 now. Not possible. Too fast. WTF?

I don’t mean to complain; almost everything about aging is good news––wisdom, maturity, confidence, knowledge, the ability to walk away from bullshit and say, “whatever”––except the way my body looks and feels. Injuries come more easily, aches last longer, my whiskers are mostly gray, when I cough, a cloud of dust comes out. I’ve already begun telling myself that 60 is the new 50. Maybe by the time I get there in four-and-a-half years, it will be the new 40!

Next January will be the 30th anniversary of Bizarro. I cannot wrap my mind around that. Oh well. Whatever.

bz senior moment 12-18-09 WEBBIZARROLD: Appropriate to the discussion above, here’s a favorite of mine from 2009.


*I don’t have a yearbook picture of my parents so I used a random one from 1955 to illustrate my point.



28 thoughts on “Old Anxiety

  1. Ever since I was a small child-listening to jazz and eating pickles-I can always remember the excitement of seeing a newspaper and quickly flinging the pages apart till I found the bizarro comic.But now that they are on line I go through iPads like crazy!(budump-Ching)

  2. Oh man, I thought I was the only one. A suit is a costume. I still get intimidated when I walk down the hallway of an elementary school,,,,, I saw a lot of the principal when I was there.

  3. Hey Dan,

    I spent about 10 minutes looking at that photo set from 1955 trying to figure out which one of those gentlemen could yourfather. Felt very foolish when I reached the bottom. Maybe I must take a revision class in asterisk usage.

    Naughty you though.

    P.S. – Age can’t beat how cool you are.

    Have a nice day. :)

  4. Reading about how you still feel 21 in your head, I know exactly what you mean. I still feel like I did when I was in the army. I think about what my father looked like on the day I left for basic and I have to say I look younger than he did. I am six years older then he was on that day.

  5. YOU Sir, are by far the best cartoonist in existence. I love your post. I love your humor. I love you. Why? Because you were kind enough to send a cartoon to my son years ago that I snipped and mailed to him. It was the one where Matt wanted to be a fireman, pirate, and astronaut. For some reason, you sent him another copy. You are a great contribution to our world and a very wonderful and considerate man.


    Marilyn (the mother of the fireman, pirate, and astronaut!!)

    • That was a great gag and I had drinks with Matt recently here in LA. He’s grown up to be a fine young man. And congrats on the impending arrival, by the way!

  6. I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one who’s “involuntarily” young at heart (perhaps too much so for his own good). I work at a university and regularly interact with young people, and also I often find the music they listen to enjoyable, although I do sometimes catch myself going into one of those “oy, these kids today” rants in my head. Basically, I’m an adult only when absolutely necessary; otherwise, I feel like I haven’t aged a day since I was about 24 — well, except on those rare occasions when I nearly throw my back out when I sneeze, and stuff like that.


  7. Lol…fits me exactly. Since I continue to do impromptu jokes (I can’t tell a prepared jokes but sometimes rock the aisles with my impromptu) I suspect some of my friend think I am 18 in my mind instead of 6 months shy of 60.

    I climbed up in my industry fast…but always felt like a kid inside somehow tricking these mature minded adults lol. I guess the big difference is that my parents always acted their age in public. My psychology major wife, on the other hand, shields her face when she says we are in the wrong aisle at the grocery store and I make the slow “beep, beep, beep” sound of a truck backing up as I back the cart out into the main aisle and turn towards the correct aisle…some people laugh so hard they choke..others are grabbing their children and scurrying to the other end of the store.

  8. I had not seen a buddy in 25 years. He said I looked like the way he remembered my father. Could have hugged him. Great feeling for those who loved their parents.

    • I love my dad but there is something very unnerving about looking into a mirror and seeing him instead of me. I guess it is just that part of the ego that wants to be an individual.

  9. You are not alone in your thoughts on aging. I have heard it said that you never really feel grown up until your parents are gone. I still have mine and feel like a kid-a 50 year old kid. I wonder if I will ever not feel young in the brain. I do know that no one looks at me anymore, so I could always supplement our income by shoplifting.

  10. Aging yields maturity, represented by taking “A Day as Matador!” off your bucket list (now printed out in LARGE font) . . .

  11. I hear you about the whole aging thing. My eldest will be 32 this year, which seems impossible, yet there it is. My youngest will be graduating high school this June and off to college in the fall. That fact hits me harder (though I’m kind of excited about it at the same time,) since I’m facing an empty nest soon.

    Just wait till your first grandchild is born. That’s a surreal experience.

  12. Sorry, I hate the term ‘Senior Moment’, even as they increase in frequency. Senior Discount? Yeah, I’ll take one of those if I can remember where my ID is… But I prefer the term ‘brain fart’, especially since it comes in short bursts… talking about “Get Smart” and forgetting the last name of the actress who played Agent 99… Barbara… uh, Rigg? No, she was on the Avengers as Mrs… uh… nevermind. Then again, frequent ‘Senior Moments’ would be less symbolically smelly than frequent ‘brain farts’… but if it gets that serious, I want to use the terminology from the “Quantum Leap” TV show, where, usually to help the story along, time traveler Sam Beckett would suffer from “swiss-cheesed memory” … although I prefer Havarti cheese, the holes are much too small… now what am I doing commenting on this blog?

    Oh yeah, six-years-old, my 1/15th Life Crisis…

  13. One of my earliest memories of a feeling I would later recognize as nostalgia was realizing that after five I wouldn’t be able to evade that “how cute are you? How many [years] are you?” from strangers with just one hand.

  14. That old saying “You’re only as old as you feel” is pretty much true. I still feel like a kid on the inside, even though the mirror image begs to differ. I still like current music, graphic novels, etc. in spite of the passing of years. On the other hand, some of my contemporaries seem to be stuck in a past decade, interest-wise. Coincidentally enough, your blog came on a day when a person tends to think more about such things. Today is my birthday. And I’m thinking about starting to count backwards on an annual basis.

  15. I was thinking- I can relate to all that and come to find out I am the same age as you. Love your comics and I just got my pickle shirt in the mail, thank you.

  16. I’m on the very precipice of Medicare and still don’t know what “I’m going to do with my life. ” Go figure!

    Re the yearbook pic: And here I was trying to guess who was who.

  17. Dan, I was having similar thoughts just a few days ago, as I was getting my gear on for a hockey game. At 67, my head feels more like 35. My dad died in 1982, so that has nothing to do with it. When I became a step-great-grandfather, it seemed completely surreal, like one of those guys inside my head must be a fantasy.

    Every now and then I’ll see some really old guy on the TV news, and I’ll think “This guy can’t possibly be my age. He’s ancient.”

  18. I’m so glad I’m not alone in this “getting-older-but-not-believing-it” dynamic.

    While mid-50’s isn’t really old enough to be a geezer, perhaps it qualifies as “geezling”?

  19. I’m right there with you. I am about to turn 55, but feel 27 on he inside. I wondered if I got stuck at 27 because that’s the age I was when my father passed away, but I guess all us older folks feel the same way.

  20. Maybe living through a depression and WWII makes one more of an adult, or it’s just a matter of perception. Skating relatively unscathed through life, and now with a three month old MediCare card, how can I be so immature, look so good in the mirror and look like a frail old man in a photo?

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