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February 22, 2016
My mother had a collection of sayings and clichés, she’d call them colloquialisms, which my brothers and I actually numbered because she used them so regularly. So that at dinner, when she’d begin one, for example, “Let your food stop your mouth!” we’d laugh and say “number 11!” before she got to the word “stop.”
One of her favorites was, “Go like sixty!” which meant something was going really fast (we numbered it “59” of course). It was all-encompassing and could be used in a couple of different ways. Running a wind sprint? You’re going like 60! You’re driving too fast? “Stop going like 60!” You’re dressed well for a party or special event? You are “going like sixty.”
I never got it, but 60 seems to have significant meaning in our society. The Nicholas Cage movie, “Gone in Sixty Seconds” is a nod to that original slang term. One of broadcast TV’s true battleships, an iconic program that has lasted thru recessions, presidents, cultural turnover and society’s changes, is called “60 Minutes.” It’s an hour of TV (actually 45 or 48 minutes, depending on ratings, ad dollars and the stories running that week) that endures.
The fact that an “hour” of TV is actually 10-15 minutes less than an hour, allowing for commercials, shows the ephemeral quality of “60.” Sure, there are 60 seconds in a minute, and 60 minutes in an hour, but a minute can last forever in high-stress situations, and 60 minutes can fly by in a heartbeat if you’re having fun and you’ve lost track of time.
60 can be religious. Buddha had 60 disciples, and he dispersed them to evangelize the world. Saint Paul prescribes that a woman can be registered to the group of widows only if she is at least 60 years old.
Age ain’t nuthin’ but a number, and 60 is proof. Laura Ingalls Wilder, the author of those oh-so-popular “Little House” books that became a popular TV series during the 70s, was just over 60 when she wrote and published the series!
Check out Harlan Sanders. He was over 60 when he began promoting his cooking and became a household name via Kentucky Fried Chicken!
60 is the number of years that lasts a complete cycle in the Chinese calendar, and 60 days was used as a measurement of time for Indians, the Chinese and the Egyptians.
60 itself has meaning. Babe Ruth’s 60 home runs hit during the 1927 baseball season stood 34 years until Roger Maris hit 61 in ‘61. For fans of a certain age, those numbers – 60 and 61 – still resonate. The Philadelphia Eagles great linebacker, Chuck Badnarik, wore number 60. So did the lesser-known Tommy Nobis for the original Atlanta Falcons franchise.
It’s still hip, too. In 2006 Gilbert Arenas scored 60 points and set a Washington Wizards team single-game scoring record. It’s the highest level you can reach on the original World of Warcraft video game.
I will have a very, very big announcement in my next newsletter, coming out later this week. Thanks for reading!