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Three score and ten or more

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


This evening, just after an intelligent person would be heading for bed, a commercial came on the TV. It took a moment for it to register who was, featured in the commercial, but my coot aged brain finally sorted it out from the millions I have forgotten. It was Dennis Hopper, a really excellent actor with a good track record doing a commercial for, (I think) Ameriprize or Ameriplan, but whatever it was, he was promoting a company that helps people (obviously of his own age) plan their retirements. He was seated on a sand dune saying (approximately) "What is this? Fifty is the new forty" forty is the new thirty?" then he pitched the retirement company. Somehow I was hit with anachronistic thought.

The first time I ever met Dennis Hopper (actually it was the ONLY time I ever met Dennis Hopper) I was acting at the San Diego National Shakespeare Festival in about 1958. A bunch of us were sitting in a dressing room during a rehearsal break when someone came into the room and said something on the order of "Hey Dennis Hopper is here, he wants to meet the new guys and say hello." I knew who Dennis Hopper was, he was at that time James Dean's major rival for the hearts and bodies of American young women, so of course I joined the crowd moving out to greet him.

My questions about what he might be doing there were answered by one of the veterans of the place who mentioned that he had worked at the Shakespeare Festival for a couple of summers. My first impression was that he seemed to be a blond fourteen year old with broad shoulders and a deep tan. As you may have gathered from the comment, he looked much younger in person than on the screen.

He ran around and greeted all his old friends effusively and said hello and shook hands with the rest of us. At first, I couldn't get over how young he looked, but reflected that probably that was one of his marketable features. I have to confess that the thing by which I was most impressed was his car. He had a Ford Thunderbird, back when the Thunderbird was a sports card. He showed us all, two or three times, how the hard top of the car could be shifted to make it a convertible. He just pushed a button, and what looked like the trunk opened up backwards, right behind the seat and then the hard top slid down into the trunk, which closed instantly. It was really cool, though it was pretty obvious that you didn't put suitcases in the trunk to go on trips and it explained the spare tire mounted at the back of the trunk (A feature that was still on the TBird when it became a luxury sedan.)

I couldn't help having a coot chuckle when I thought of this teen age kid dancing around his car and contrasted it to this guy who was obviously a coot like me sitting in the sand pushing retirement savings. (Hey when you are old, you enjoy a laugh anytime you can.)


At 11:40 PM, Blogger Patrick Joubert Conlon said...

I remember when Hopper declared that he was a vegetarian in the 60s and it made me feel less like a freak being a veggie in those days. Hey, I still like tofu.

At 9:05 AM, Blogger Three Score and Ten or more said...

Tofu??? I have heard that everyone has at least one dark sin for which he/she hopes to be forgiven in time, but TOFU??? That's pretty extreme, and will require massive repentence I am sure. (or not)

At 11:49 PM, Blogger Patrick Joubert Conlon said...

A very hot sauce full of ginger and chillies over the tofu is repentance - or is that more pleasure?


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