the-graduateI hope I’m not stepping it into here, but a short little essay caught my eye this morning. Bear with me.

First, a quote from Tom Junod in the just-delivered August issue of Esquire.

Mrs. Robinson was forty-two. And so if you want to see how our conception of forty-two-year-old women has changed over the last five decades, simply imagine The Graduate remade today, with Cameron Diaz in the part made famous by Anne Bancroft. Or Sofia Vergara. Or Leslie Mann. Or Amy Poehler. Or any of the forty-two-year-old women now gracing our culture.

Second, a quote from Candice Chung, writing in DailyLife.com, ridiculing Junod’s piece as shallow and sexist.

Long before there were listicles on the internet, magazine editors have devised the art of folding numbers into headlines to create intrigue.  And while women’s glossies tend to revolve around stories like “37 new winter looks under $500”, and “17 juice cleanses that won’t kill you”, the brains behind men’s magazines have focused their energy on a different kind of statistics – women’s sexual shelf life.

Third, a paragraph from Wikipedia pointing out that Dustin Hoffman, portrayed as 20 and going on 21, was actually 30 years old at the time of filming while Anne Bancroft was 35. Katharine Ross, cast as 19-year-old Elaine, was 27. (More trivia about initial casting choices, filming locations, etc., found at previous link.) BTW, “The Graduate” was released in 1967, some 47 years ago.

Still with me? These three little tidbits caused me to pause and ask three questions:

Q. OK, so which male celebrities were born in 1972 (and thus are or soon will be 42)?

A. A partial list would include Ben Affleck, Jude Law, Wil Wheaton (the kid in “Stand By Me”), Shaquille O’Neal, John Cho (unforgettable in “Harold and Kumar”) and Eminem.

Q. What was I doing at 42?

A. That would take me back to 1994. Lori and I had been married for 19 years. (Yep, hitched at 22). We’d moved to Portland 9 years earlier. Our kids were then 14, 11 and 6. I may have been in the best physical shape of my adult years, running 10Ks and playing basketball every Sunday morning. After nearly a decade of reporting and editing at The Oregonian, I was about to begin a new job as newsroom recruiter director. 

Q. What were YOU doing? Yes, you, the person reading this article.

A. Leave your answer at the bottom of this post, please, in addition to or instead of what you might say on Facebook.

Final thought: The number 42 also resonates for me as symbolic of the intersection of Major League Baseball and civil rights. After all, it was Jackie Robinson’s uniform number when he broke the color barrier as a Brooklyn Dodger.

Still with me?? Here’s the famous scene:

Photograph: filmposters.com




One thought on “42

  1. I was 42 in 1997. Amber had graduated high school a year earlier and we had been living in Hillsboro for the last year, moving from Kennewick, WA. It was the first time in our relationship that we were a couple since Amber was 22-months old when I met Jim (he had a short, unhappy first marriage). I had a great job, we had a great home, and it was before Jim’s decade plus decline began. I was thriving professionally, getting engaged in the environmental community here. We traveled and we were happy and life was good. Looking back now, it almost seemed a time of innocence before Columbine, 9/11, Sandy Hook, etc.

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