Last weekend, I celebrated another in a long string of birthdays. Like most of my birthdays it was full of family and friends and, in spite of the increase in my numerical age, the whole experience left me feeling really good.
I’m not someone who frets getting older. Turning 30 didn’t bother me, neither did turning 35. Even now that there’s no sugar coating that I’m in my late 30s, it doesn’t feel like a negative.
Perhaps it has to do with the fact I’m used to people grossly overestimating my age. Sometimes that can be a big advantage as people assume I’m more experienced than I actually am, which gives my words greater gravitas than perhaps they’re due. (I’m convinced that I got my last job in part due to the fact that my boss thought I was at about 10 years older than I was.) That said, being mistaken for being older is generally a whole lot less helpful on the dating scene.
But as my birthday weekend was winding down, I learned of something that stunned and horrified me, and suddenly made me feel very, very old.
I’m the same age as Homer Simpson.
In Sunday’s episode, Homer let it slip that he was 38, albeit in the guise of accepting his inner geezer. (“Sometimes you have to wait until you’re 38 before you discover who you really are. I’m a 79-year-old man.”)
The revelation hit me like a bucket of cold water on a winter’s day. How could this be? Homer is old, and there is no way I could ever be that old.
Having grown up with The Simpsons it seems strange to go from being not much older than Bart to, in what seems like the blink of an eye, being the same age as Homer (who’s been 38 since I was 13).
Most shows or films have their moment in time with they are inextricably linked and I tend to perceive the ages of characters relative to that time. That’s why Ferris Beuller is still years ahead of me in school and Mulder and Scully are “adults” even though I’m now older than either of them were when The X-Files debuted.
But what makes The Simpsons different is that its characters are still vital, still living, growing and changing (although not aging). The Huxtable and the Keaton families are frozen in amber, their stories finished. While I may someday reach the ages of Cliff and Steven (if I haven’t already) it won’t seem as strange as their time is long past, but Homer’s time stumbles on.
Since the show’s debut, I’ve aged by a quarter century and in many ways I don’t feel a whole lot different that I did when it first aired back in December of 1989 (although my knees may beg to differ). The Simpsons has been part of my life for so long that, like life without my younger siblings, it’s hard to imagine life without it. But unlike my brother and sister who will always be younger than me, the unaging Springfielders mark time while my age marches forward, knowing that at this time next year I’ll actually be older than Homer ever will.
— Gordon Cameron is the Group Managing Editor for Hamilton Community News.