What Mid-Life Crisis?

Sometimes, There’s No Need to Put Away Your Childish Things

Dressed as a 1740s Spanish soldier, still “plays” with the cannons of St. Augustine’s Castillo de San Marcos as a living history interpreter.

Courtesy Jason Dehart

I turn the big 4-0 in July. I won’t say it comes completely unexpected. After all, it happens to the best of us. I’ve checked my mid-life inventory and while some things are missing, others have remained rather constant.

For example, when I was 10, I played in imaginary “forts.” Thirty years later, as a living history interpreter, I get to play in the real things: Fort Clinch on Amelia Island, Fort Cooper in Inverness, Castillo de San Luis here in Tallahassee and Castillo de San Marcos in
St. Augustine. 

I still like to shoot cap guns — although my .577-caliber Enfield rifle-musket is a little bit more cumbersome than the old Parris Kentucky Rifle I “campaigned” with as a kid.

Some things are starting to come full circle. When I was 8 or 9, I played washtub bass. At a campfire gathering this past January I found myself playing a washtub bass for the first time in three decades (I’d like to have my own again someday). Thirty years ago, I liked to pretend I was a doctor. (No, not that kind of “playing doctor.”) Today, I get to play a Civil War surgeon.

Childhood mementos tie together the past and the present (Dehart is in the middle in the lower photograph). 

Photoillustration by Beth Nabi

My love of music hasn’t changed — although music itself has. No matter how many times I listen to a John Denver tune, I never grow tired of it. Today’s pop tunes? Forget about it. The last modern pop tune I really liked was a Primitive Radio Gods offering from 1996 called “Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth With Money in My Hand.”

The same goes for certain TV shows. I don’t watch popular shows like “American Idol” or any of the other programs that give the “idiot box” new meaning. But if a Looney Tunes marathon is on, I’m there. I’m still waiting for that great day when Turner Classic Movies runs a day’s worth of Sid and Marty Krofft shows from the ’70s.

Regrets? Possibly. For starters, I never caught on with computers. The first one I ever saw was a TRS-80, back in middle school around 1982. There were two at my school, both located in the Business Ed classroom. We were only allowed to “play” on them when all our other work was caught up — and I could never get caught up enough. 

Around this time the term “computer graphics” was just starting to appear on the public’s radar. I was kind of artsy, liked to draw spaceships and monsters and other wildly imaginative things. I remember telling my dad (rest his soul) that I wanted to study computer graphics. I wanted to be able to apply my overactive imagination to “drawing” images on the computer. If I remember correctly he dismissed the idea, saying “there’s no money in that.” 

It’s just as well. Later, I wound up leaving computers to the “smart kids” when I proved to be an abject failure at programming in BASIC. Ah, well. It wasn’t like computers were the wave of the future or anything like that. 

Another regret? In 1986, at the start of my junior year in high school, I had no idea where I was going after graduation. I had no scholarship money and no college prospects. My thoughts turned seriously toward joining the National Guard (“It’s OK, Mom, it’s not like we’re at war or anything.”) However, during my senior year I received some scholarship money to go to college, and bade farewell to the Army recruiters. I think, though, being in the military could have been an interesting experience. Oh well, it too was not meant to be.

So in some ways, I missed the boat. In others, I dodged a bullet. 

But enough of these musings. I think I’ll just set the Wayback Machine to 1975 and belt out “Rocky Mountain High” along with the late, great Denver.

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