John Lennon would have been 70 years old on Oct 9, 2010. Many expressed their surprise at this fact; they knew the date of his birth, but somehow couldn't readily accept that he would now be a senior.
But Jack Kerouac is a different story. Kerouac died in 1969, at the age of 47. Bad boy and literary icon, he was frozen in time for me - Beatnik idol to future hippies, forever on the road, drinking and carousing, writing and experiencing.
Because he died just after I became a fan, he was more symbol than idol. Kerouac and his escapades, his road, were not part of my lived experience in the way the Beatles were.
Part of that difference was surely that between music and literature; never did anyone read Kerouac's work daily to millions in the way that disc jockeys played Beatles' music. And Kerouac's road was not the hippie road. Kerouac's road still had hobos and more than a touch of the depression era about it.
Then when my father turned 88 this summer, the math clicked into place. Jack Kerouac and my father were born in the same year; in fact, Kerouac would be older than my dad by a few months. As much as my father is my hero, he is not my idol for rebellion and bad behaviour, for being a proto-hippie, Beat poet/novelist, benzedrine-taking experimenter with prose.
So, when someone my age expresses surprise at how old John Lennon would be, I would like to suggest looking in the mirror. When anything makes me realize that Jack Kerouac would be older than my dad, though, I am and will stay, in shock.