Older than Murray

matthau1. Murray Slaughter

Murray Slaughter is having a midlife crisis and thinks he is in love with Mary. He says despairingly, “I’m 45…” and I have no idea what he said next because my husband let out this groan and said, “I’m older than Murray!”

Across town, this exact conversation was happening at our friends’ house only he might have said “I’m as old as Murray.”

And Murray, or Captain Steubing, as you may have known him, always seemed… old.

(Okay, if you’re a young person, look away now, but just know, this is you in 20 years.)

2. Saturday Night Live

Saturday Night Live is 38. The entire back catalog is available On Demand, for free. That saxophone riff and the chaotic blurry images of the city that flash in front of you, delirium viewed through the rain-blurred windows of a taxi, still give me the frisson of being an up-too-late middle schooler. The bands mattered, the catch phrases that everyone would be referencing on Monday mattered. Popular culture mattered. We decide to watch a recent one. The younger daughter joins us. She picks out the catch-phrase immediately. She reads The Onion. There are so many other ways to follow and mock current events these days. But she does not like The Bad News Bears.

3. The Bad News Bears

My husband is so happy about the Major League Baseball Network. Sometimes they show baseball movies and this weekend The Bad News Bears is on.

Things that strike me as different to how they are now: The long hair on the boys, Walter Matthau as the coach who drinks beer at practice and in the dugout and during the game, the cans strewn at his feet, the fact that, while the kids are pissed when he passes out in the middle of practice, his drinking and his cigarillos are part of his character rather than the subject of a very special movie about alcoholism and its impact on impressionable youth.

Imagine if your 12-year-old came home and mentioned that the coach knocked back a six-pack during practice, let alone was seen smoking anywhere in view of children.

The team has uniforms sponsored by the local bail bondsmen, but when they practice they don’t have special performance, sport-specific gear, not even even cleats, just no-brand jeans and shirts.

The final scene outrages the younger daughter. Bullying, jeering and a general bad attitude are not to be applauded. When some kid gets dunked into a trash can, the older daughter howls with laughter and she scowls at the perversity of it all. The movie ends with the whole team drinking beer.

4. Stretching

The younger daughter and I go out for a run together. One of the few 7th grade experiences we share is that of running track on a 7-12th grade team. “Mommy,” she tells me when we return, “don’t forget to stretch or you’ll get stiff.”

I look at her springiness and ask, When you wake up in the morning are you ever stiff?

No, she says, sometimes I’m sore.

I stretched a little. I can already feel tomorrow’s stiffness setting in.


3 Replies to “Older than Murray”

  1. Murray was only 45!?!? he seemed so … ancient! and actually he appeared to be the same age (OLD!) as captain Steubing (of course that can’t be but…). Well, back in the day, women “our” age wore pantsuits and wore their hair in hair-spray-drenched, helmet-style do’s! 45 is the new 25… or is that 25 is the new 45?


    1. And we both liked Tatum O’Neal and her maxi dress. But, younger daughter, watching it now with you showed Daddy and me our past as being this kind of Wild West from which a great distance has been travelled.


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