A brother and sister writing team have published a new book, “1, 2 Can’t Reach My Shoe,”that is a counting book for the middle-aged.
The U.S. Census Bureau statistics apparently indicate middle age begins at age 35. Erik Erikson, a social scientist, claims it begins at 40.
Either way, at 59, I probably shouldn’t be too concerned anymore.
But I am. I’m sort of dwelling on it, while I’m clutching at the vague memory of youth, the way I might grab the back of a young guy’s shirt if I was playing pick-up basketball with him.
So, I eagerly stole that information about the beginning of middle age from a new book called “1, 2, Can’t Reach My Shoe,” by Ross and Kathryn Petras. With a book title such as that, you probably can guess they’re not social scientists. What they are is a brother and sister writing team with a host of humor books to their credit.
Their latest, “1, 2 Can’t Reach My Shoe,” is a board book, “A Counting Book for the Middle-Aged,” its subtitle notes.
“Remember those childhood board books you grew up reading,” explains the $9.95 book’s publisher, Andrews McMeel Publishing. Those were grade-school readin’, writin’, and ’rithmatic books, and the publisher calls the Petras’ text “a clever counting primer for readers who intend to age gracefully — and with a sense of humor.”
We’d best not be overly sensitive for a few paragraphs. Here come the “old” jokes.
Some important numbers, the publisher said, include
The exclamation points are the publisher’s. Andrews McMeel is pretty enthusiastic in its marketing of “1, 2, Can’t Reach My Shoe,” calling it “perfect for the 78 million baby boomers living in the United States today.”
The publisher also notes that the board book “combines colorful, retro illustrations and witty stories that correspond with numbers important in the lives of the middle-aged.”
I should warn you that a handful of the retro illustrations also could be considered slightly risqué, but probably only if you’re still living in the 1940s or 1950s. On even fewer occasions, the books illustrations and stories contain references to drinking or mild sexual innuendo, but, if you think you’re still young enough to remember later what it was you were offended by, you can skip over those board pages.
An important point
For column purposes, I want to skip quite a few boards back in the book to its end, where the explanation for the final number talks about the Census “middle” age and the social scientist opinion on it.
“Neither number is right, the book insists. “Anyone from 35 to 59 will tell you the truth: nowadays, middle age begins at SIXTY!”
I never have agreed with an exclamation point more in my entire 59-year-old life.
I’m not 60 until next year.
I’m also not a social scientist, but I’m guessing that gives me a good few months to read “1, 2, Can’t Reach My Shoe” and still think it’s funny.
Contact Gary Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.