Sunday, January 12, 2014

Age Is No Barrier

When I was a child, birthdays were magical times. I guess it is that way for most children, but it was especially so in my house.

My mother really made a production out of birthdays for my brother and me. There were balloons and streamers, and Mom always made a birthday cake that really was a sight to behold. Even if the birthday gifts weren't spectacular, the day was.

Forty years ago tonight, Archie Bunker (Carroll O'Connor) was observing a birthday, but he wasn't happy about it.

He was under the impression that it was his 49th birthday. The rest of the family, however, was certain that it was his milestone 50th birthday.

"I can prove that you're 50," Edith (Jean Stapleton) told him.

"How are you gonna do that?" Archie demanded.

"It says so on your birthday cake!" Edith replied. Archie responded that the cake was "a liar."

Turned out that Archie was 50. His birth certificate was found — and it proved Archie's age.

Anyway, not long after Archie's true age was revealed, he slipped away from the party to have a beer at the neighborhood bar — where he was tracked down first by Edith, who had a gift for him, something Archie had always wanted, she said.

The gift was a ukelele, and Archie was, indeed, pleased — but he couldn't play it.

Archie was later visited by one of the guests at his surprise party, Mr. Quigley (Burt Mustin), who claimed to be only a few hours from his 83rd birthday (in reality, Mustin was about to turn 90).

Mr. Quigley massaged Archie's bruised ego a bit by calling him a "young sprig," and he told Archie about the things he was going to do — like learning to speak French.

The lesson was not lost on Archie. Age is only a barrier if one allows it to be.