Déjà vu

The scene was sometime late in the 20th Century. It was a New Year's Eve. My dad was sitting on the couch, and I was in the recliner. My sister was there, too. We were watching Dick Clark's New Year's show from Times Square. The joke was that as Dick got older, every year they moved the camera further and further away from him. At this point, the camera was in SoHo.

We were just a few miles away, in North Arlington, New Jersey. I had moved out west many years before but was back for a short stay. I did this only once or twice a year at most. By the time of this particular holiday visit, my father was a senior citizen with gray hair and wrinkles. The changes in his appearance over the preceding year had been pretty noticeable.

At one point in the show, an aging Bobby Rydell came on the TV and sang a song. Maybe it was "Forget Him" or "Wild One," one of his hits from many years before. This being a Dick Clark production, he was lip-syncing just to be sure nothing went wrong. All around him, the revelers in Times Square were acting up for the cameras, trying to get on the air.

My dad, who was a funny guy especially when he wasn't trying to be, watched Rydell for a minute or so. Then he frowned and made one of his observations that went down in the family history books. 

"He got old."

My sister and I couldn't stop laughing. I think one of us even said, "Daddy, have you looked in the mirror lately?" Plus, there we were, our big New Year's Eve in the living room.

Fast forward to last night. It's almost 2023. Dad is gone. Dick Clark is, too, but his show lives on in all its pointlessness. Here I am again watching it, stretched out on the living room floor next to a cat. The Mrs. is in the prone position on the couch just above me.

At some point, on comes this guy in late middle age, his dad bod somewhat concealed (but not enough) by a bright blue fake-fur coat. He's got a three-day stubble, and lots of lines and wrinkles evident. He's lip-syncing away earnestly in the rain, on and on he's going, almost a self-parody, and the two of us stare at the set with the same question on our minds. Finally one of us says it out loud: "Who is this guy?"

Then the song changes. It's familiar. And a wave of recognition washes over me. "It's Duran Duran!" I say, with great satisfaction. "Simon Le Bon," the Mrs. adds.

And then it comes out of me, out of nowhere really, without irony, without even thinking about it.

"He got old."

Einstein once said, "The distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion." Sometimes I think he was right. 

But then again, he got old, too.

Happy New Year.


  1. It’s gotten way past “He got old”. Now it’s “he looks dead.” Maybe Grace Slick had the right idea all along?

  2. Thanks, Jack. I enjoyed this story. Heartwarming.

  3. Happy New Year to you and yours, jack

  4. The only thing missing from the story is one of your kids saying, “Daddy, have you looked in the mirror lately?"

  5. A friend of mine from work got tickets to a Duran Duran show in Las Vegas and had a chance to meet the band. When she showed me a picture of herself with Simon Levon I said exactly the same thing. “Man he got old.“ (But haven’t we all?)

    1. Simon is 64 and a grandfather now. I think he's doing well, considering....

  6. Thank you for this wonderful story, Jack!


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