The guy in the place with the thing, you know...
Dave Barry forgets
Web posted on: Wednesday, November 11, 1998 6:56:50 PM EST(CNN) -- Almost everyone looks at turning 50 with some trepidation, and humorist Dave Barry is no exception. Of course, to him, even mid-life angst is one big joke. "Dave Barry Turns 50" is full of quips and cracks about the aging process. Barry recently appeared on CNN Sunday Morning.
CNN ANCHOR LAURIE DHUE: Good morning, Dave, and thanks for being with us. How are you doing?
DAVE BARRY: I'm doing fine for an old guy.
DHUE: Yes, despite being, I believe 51, you look pretty good.
BARRY: Thanks. Although, it won't last long. I'm on a book tour, and my theory is that they basically figure your book will be worth more if you're dead. So they just send you out everywhere, you know?
DHUE: Now, it's hard to believe that it's been 10 years since you wrote "Dave Barry Turns 40." Now, "Dave Barry Turns 50" -- what has changed for you in the last 10 years?
BARRY: Well, little things. I have to remember when I leave in the morning, I have to ask myself, "Did I pluck my ears?" I didn't used to ask that question.
DHUE: And the answer is?
BARRY: The answer is: I can't remember. That's the other thing that has changed a lot, I find myself having these conversations where I go -- I'm doing fine and then I get to, I want to name somebody, and I go, "You know, the guy, in that place. The guy in the place with the thing, you know." And it becomes this game of charades. And then finally, we realize that I mean the Pope. And by then, we can't remember what it was I was trying to say originally ...
DHUE: But somehow your friends follow, I have a feeling.
BARRY: No, because they're getting old, too.
DHUE: OK, so, you're all in the same boat then?
BARRY: Yes, and also, you find that -- when you're driving, you get absentminded. People start yelling at you a lot, and sometimes they're actually lying on the hood of your car. That's another sign that you're getting older.
DHUE: It seems like you're having a few problems here. But I must say, you obviously do not have a hard time poking fun at those who are getting older. So it can't be all that bad.
BARRY: No, actually, there are some good things. You develop this perspective like the sense of your legacy to future generations. When people say, "You know, we're going to use up our Earth's resources. And unless we do something drastically soon, the Earth will be uninhabitable by the year 2050." And I find myself nodding and going, "No problem, I'll be dead." So there is a positive thing.
DHUE: Yes, but what about your son? In fact, this kind of leads me into my next question, which was, I love the names of some of your chapters. One of the names of your chapters is: "Sending Your Child to College," and the subtitle is, "You Don't Need Both Your Kidneys." Now, I have to -- I love that one. I have to say, you've got an 18 year-old son who is probably looking at colleges. Do you have any intention on selling one of your kidneys to pay?
BARRY: No, but I am baffled at how they manage to keep college tuition costs soaring in a time when inflation is stagnant. I think they heat them by burning $50 bills.
But here's my one piece of advice to parents. When you take your child to college, you need to be as hideously embarrassing as humanly possible to remind your child what a dork you are, so that he or she will not want to move back in with you when he or she finishes college.
A lot of parents, after they leave their child in college, enter the federal witness protection program.
DHUE: Now, does your son think you're a dork?
BARRY: Yes, of course, he does. I think the purpose of children is to remind us constantly how uncool and unhip we are. If I ever suggest for one second that I like a song that my son likes, he immediately takes the CD and burns it.
DHUE: Well, I have to move on. We've got a lot to talk about. Now, you chronicle your memories, kind of by decades. You talk about the '50s, and '60s and '70s. Not all of your memories are funny. In fact, I was struck by one of your memories talking about 1963 when you went to Washington to hear Martin Luther King Jr. give his "I Have a Dream" speech. That must have been a great experience.
BARRY: It was. It was quite a day. I was 16 at the time. And I went down in a busload of people from New York City. It's kind of hard to remember now what it was like then, when the civil rights movement was really just reaching its peak. And everybody was sort of feeling really good about where things were going, and we honestly believed that race relations were going to be harmonious in the United States in the next few years, thanks to what we were doing. Kind of a self-centered way of looking at it. It didn't turn out quite that way, but it was a wonderful time while it lasted.
DHUE: In the '70s, you talk about Vietnam and Watergate, and you said that the Watergate era was glorious for print journalists. What were you doing then?
BARRY: I was working for a little newspaper in Pennsylvania. And that was the last time when Americans really trusted their media, when the Watergate story broke and it turned out the little reporters had been right and the big politicians had been wrong. And now I think that they think that the media and the politicians are both scum. But for a while, we were looking good.
DHUE: Well, turning to a lighter part of the '70s, you must have been around 30 when disco was king.
DHUE: I've got a couple of questions for you. You have to be honest here.
DHUE: A. did you own a leisure suit? And B. did you have an eight-track of "Saturday Night Fever," and do you still have it?
BARRY: I never owned a leisure suit. But I did, for a little while, have shoes that had heels like that tall, and I attempted to learn The Hustle. OK? I had an eight-track, but I never actually had the "Saturday Night Live" theme music on an eight-track.
DHUE: No, "Saturday Night Fever."
BARRY: Oh, Saturday Night Fever, excuse me.
BARRY: See, I'm getting old and -- the guy with the thing, you know.
DHUE: Right, I understand. That's why I'm here to help you out.
BARRY: Thank you.
DHUE: I have to admit that I have that (soundtrack) on CD now, and I listen to it in my car. So that just kind of shows you where we are now.
You are working on your first novel. And in a recent interview you said, "It's going fine except for the plot."
BARRY: Right. I have no plot. The characters just stand around going -- anybody seen a plot, what are we supposed to do here?
Maybe we should just have some more dialogue.
DHUE: OK, so that's upcoming, and we can expect that sometime next year, maybe?
BARRY: If I ever get off this book tour, I promise.
DHUE: OK. Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and humorist Dave Barry, it was an absolute pleasure having you with us today.
BARRY: Thank you.
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