To everyone who sent me a birthday greeting today:
When I was much younger – perhaps in my pre- or early-teen years – I saw old reruns of The Jack Benny Show on TV. Benny would often recite the running gag about his age. You know the one – how he was continually turning 39.
This comedy routine confounded my youthful mind. I mean, I got the joke: Benny was obviously much older than 39 and was concocting an absurd fabrication about his age. What perplexed me was: Why pick 39? I mean, that’s so old. If you were going to lie about your age, why not lie about actually being young – like 20-something. This was in the era when you were not supposed to trust anyone over 30. Pretending to be as ancient as 39 seemed ridiculous.
But, of course, this was when 39 looked very, very far away. The intervening years have altered my perspective on Benny’s joke. I now get it.
So thanks, everyone, for all the birthday wishes. It’s great to be 39 again.
The image of Jack Benny is likely from a copyrighted television program, the copyright for which is most likely owned by the studio which produced the program and possibly also by the actor appearing in the image. It is believed that the use of a web-resolution screenshot for identification and critical commentary on the film and its contents qualifies as fair use under United States copyright law.
The post was originally published in a slightly different version on Tumblr.