If I'd been out till quarter to three
Would you lock the door
Will you still need me, will you still feed me
When I'm sixty-four
I asked her what was wrong. She replied, with her delightful giggle "The radio."
It was playing a Beatles song: "When I'm Sixty-Four".
"I was eight years old when that song came out." she smiled. "And now I'm about to be married to a sixty-four year old man!"
It was indeed a sobering thought.
Which is why I find myself now typing this out in the early morning hours of November 21, 2021. The day I turn sixty-four years of age.
Granted, it's not the exact time yet--that will occur at ten minutes after noon--but it's strange how this is making me muse in a way the more conventionally "milestone" birthday of sixty didn't.
Of course, when I turned sixty Peter made sure to throw an ornate and morbid party, which he also did when Winston turned sixty in 2013, when Janine turned sixty in 2018, and Raymond the year after that. Just like he did when Janine and Raymond turned forty. Just like he did when all of us turned fifty. Strangely, he always seems to be out of town for some reason when he hits those milestones.
I remember when my Mother turned sixty-four. It was in 1996. She called me that day, and mentioned the song, at which time I reminded her that Father didn't allow me to listen to rock and roll albums; I only heard the song in college, when Peter was determined to "round me out" with massive quantities of the Beatles and Aretha Franklin.
1996 was during the darkest days of my life. A time when I was alone in a way I had never been before, and never want to be again. I think Mom called because she was worried about me, and in hindsight that worry was not unwarranted. Neither one of us knew then that less than a year later my life would completely turn around. I'd find a new circle of friends, would get the old one back, and would even get an unearned chance to make up for the single largest mistake I ever made...two years after my Mother turned sixty-four she watched me get married. A year after that she held her grandchildren for the first time.
My Father didn't even make it to his sixty-fourth birthday. A stroke and a failing body took him to the other side before he could make it. He never met his grandchildren or their mother.
Mother joined him four years ago. Before she went, though, she pulled me aside, and told me something she hadn't mentioned in the previous nineteen years: she was certain she heard Father's voice at my wedding.
"Our son has become an even greater man than I ever hoped he could be..."
I know it gave her great comfort; it brought some to me was well, especially after her passing. Though I can't help but have an irrationally bitter thought of my own: Why couldn't he have said that to me?
I know, I know. My Father was not a demonstrative man. I remember being shocked when I was told, as a boy, about his previous marriage and Ellis. It seemed incomprehensible to me, the thought of having a child and apparently not even wanting to be part of their life.
The bitterness fades quickly, though. I knew I could never be like that. Someday, I will get to ask him about it myself, but I hope not one too terribly soon.
Mom was eighty-five when she died. I will turn eighty-five on November 21, 2042. I wonder if I will achieve that level of longevity.
In some ways, the last year has seen the greatest upheaval to my family's life in quite some time. Kylie, Eduardo, Roland, and Garrett have retired from Ghostbusting after twenty-four years: one of the new Ghostbusters is my son, Johnathan Christopher.
From the accounts of his new comrades, he stepped into the role like he was born to it--I suppose, all things considered, that's a possibility. I never pushed him or his sister the way I was pushed--even if I had wanted to, and I most definitely did not, Janine would never have let me--but Johnathan and Eden pushed themselves quite hard, by turns collaborating and competing against each other. They drove themselves almost as hard as my Father drove me--granted, they didn't attain the level of overachievement I did, and I'm glad. They still graduated high school at age thirteen--about the time in my life I earned my first degree--but on the other hand, they were never as socially isolated and awkward. They got to be children in a way I never was.
Pushing them into our field of work was never a consideration. Indeed, up until this point, only Winston's daughter Charlene had shown interest in joining GBI, and she has since become an integral member of the Ghostbusters West Coast and a Doctor of Psychology. But Oscar became a musician, perhaps from the examples of his Mother and his biological father (not to mention Peter's brief career as "Doctor Vee"); Jessica, perhaps soured on dealing with the supernatural due to some unusual events in her own formative years, remodels homes for resale and stays well away from the life of a Ghostbuster. Eric seemed to be following his mother's career path instead of Raymond's, though it was one as steeped in the supernatural as ours--probably more so. Eden and Johnathan were employed at the Institute for Metaphysical Examination at Columbia, but I have no doubt that Patricia Tolan and the others hired them because of their extensive academic achievements, not their last name.
I have no doubt that Johnathan will do well in this job. He is a quick thinker, learns rapidly, and is far more assertive than I ever was. He's certainly got a far higher level of comfort with the emotional demands of the job than I had at a comparable age; I would say that a combination of nature--his mother's emotional intelligence--and nurture--the aforementioned lack of imposed academic pressure and resultant greater social development--both paid dividends in this area.
He's already looking to make his own mark in the field, too--his "GBX", a combination PKE Meter, communications device, and even ghost trap is an astounding piece of work. I look forward to him working the bugs out of it.
Eden, for her part, only accepted a Reserve position, and will remain at the Institute as her "day job". She's always been the less prone to sudden decisions of the two of my children; she's torn, I suspect, between her genuine love of research and her curiosity about the field her parents and now her brother have made part of their lives. Perhaps she's playing it safe, keeping her options open until she's certain which way appeals to her more; that would be in character. A part of her character that I understand too well.
She would make a fantastic Ghostbuster. She already makes a fantastic scientist. I don't see a wrong decision there.
I think Janine, though, has developed some ulterior motives of late.
When her nephew Victor married, and made Janine's sister Doris a grandmother, I could see the sparkle in Janine's eye. She was once more "falling behind" her sister. In other words, Janine's mothering instincts have been changing into grandmothering instincts.
I think she has an agenda where one of Johnathan's new coworkers is concerned: Ms. Tessa Jane Anderson, formerly of London's Metropolitan Police Department. I noticed myself when the new team was unveiled that Ms. Anderson chose flight suit colors similar to Johnathan's--Janine noted later that, unlike the time she chose colors similar to mine, Ms. Anderson made that choice with no foreknowledge of Johnathan's. When she asked Johnathan about it later, he became rather evasive.
I daresay Janine might be onto something there. I reacted much the same way the first time Mom asked me about Janine.
Ms. Anderson does strike me as incredibly capable, as well as having a more practical, grounded outlook than most. I daresay there's one major obstacle to deal with though: she seems even more guarded than Johnathan is. She's dealing with not only a new vocation, but a new country. I doubt she's going to be comfortable with anything more than that any time soon.
Janine realizes that too; she's not pushing very hard, other than asking Ms. Anderson about her plans for next Thursday, and suggesting to Johnathan that he consider asking her to attend our family Thanksgiving dinner. I suspect that would probably be too much too fast, but I hope Johnathan realizes the most important part: his mother is signaling approval. The same way mine had decades earlier.
And neither Katharine nor Janine Spengler are going to approve of just anybody for their sons.
When he was griping about Jessica's teenage antics, Peter would often express some variation of the sentiment "You're lucky, Egon, because Eden's so much like you she won't notice men until she's like thirty or something." Well, all of his jokes about her being "Rule 63 Egon" aside, while Eden may not be as sociable as her brother, she's still leagues head of where I was at comparable age. She's been on a number of dates, though she has expressed dissatisfaction with all of them--finding most of the prospective suitors either interested in her looks or her family's scientific stature, and never even both of those at the same time. That said...well...I would say that one more thing my daughter has is common with me is that when the right person comes along, that deep rooted emotion is going to come out.
And fortunately, I think she also has enough of her mother's assertiveness to not let it fall into the same overlong slog of miscommunication and denial that I did for far too long.
I can't really say much about the other new Ghostbusters yet. I watched Eric Stantz grow from age two until he went away to Rein-Hagen Academy at age twelve, but until June I hadn't seen him since--he's grown into someone I recognize, but don't know for the time being. As a child he was a lot like Raymond, but while I still see some of that enthusiasm, he's undergone training of a type I can scarcely imagine and that's given him an intensity that his father never had.
Marie Lupin I don't even have that to go on; I think the last time I saw her before this year was the day she attended my wedding. At approximately one year of age. About all I can surmise at this point is that if anyone could be, to reuse a phrase, "Rule 63 Young Peter Venkman" it would be Ms. Lupin.
Sleep is catching up to me, so I will wrap this up now. I look forward to celebrating my sixty-fourth birthday with friends and family. Perhaps a bottle of non-alcoholic grape juice in place of the wine, though.
I also look forward to reminding Janine that in less than I year I will be married to a sixty-four year old woman.
I won't say that while anyone else is around, though. She'd likely stop feeding me.
Extreme Ghostbusters Created by Fil Barlow
Ghostbusters: Answer The Call Created by Paul Feig and Katie Dippold
Ghostbusters West Coast Division Created by Andy Harness and Vincent Belmont
Ghostbusters 202X Created by Fritz Baugh and OgreBBQ
Doris Melnitz Irwin based on a character seen in "Janine's Day Off" (RGB-76044; #201) by Micheal Reaves and Steven Perry, and named in "Fallout" (EGB-129;#127) by Bruce Reid Schaeffer. Married name is fan conjecture by Fritz Baugh.
Victor Irwin based on a character seen in "Janine's Day Off" (RGB-76044;#201) by Micheal Reaves and Steven Perry, and named in "Victor the Happy Ghost"(RGB-76062;#224) by Micheal Reaves. Family name is fan conjecture by Fritz Baugh.
Ellis Spengler co-created with Jen Spengler
Kathryn Melton Spengler appeared in "Till Death Do Us Part"(RGB-201014;#507) by Pat Allee and Ben Hurst, and "Ghostworld"(RGB-140-509;#604) by Len Jansen and Chuck Menville. First name is fan conjecture by Shiela Paulson; maiden name fan conjecture by Fritz Baugh.
Jessica Venkman created by EGBFan
Charlene Zeddemore created by OgreBBQ and Fritz Baugh. Some development by EGBFan.
Rein-Hagen Academy is a tribute to Mark Rein-Hagen, co-creator of the RPG Ars Magica, formerly published by Lion Rampant, White Wolf, and Atlas Games.