My entire morning has been wasted by watching the Supreme Court hearings. At my age the supply of mornings left for me is limited therefore; I can’t afford to spend them recklessly. It was clear from the beginning that nothing worth watching would occur for as usual the two sides were lined up as in a giant tug of war, each hoping to drag the other into the mud. It would all be perfectly predictable, and since each side spoke with one voice there would be no evidence of independent thinking on either side for as journalist Walter Lippman once said: “Where all think alike, no one thinks very much”.
With that in mind I decided to eschew political subjects and focus on my favorite subject, namely myself. It would also spare my conservative daughter Trudy from enduring the embarrassment caused by the writings of her radical left-wing old man. As you must have guessed from the title of this paper I have finally succumbed to the ravages of time and have accepted the fact that I am OLD. My rationale for writing this autobiographical gem is that it is to be a public service announcement designed to provide some insight as to what lies ahead for you who are fortunate enough to become old however; if it garners some sympathy for me that would be perfectly acceptable.
It is true that as an old person I have a lot of company. People are living much longer and according to the 2014 census figures there were 4 million women and 2.1 million men over the age of 80 in the U.S. (are you gals sure about that gender equality thing?). As I mentioned in a previous blog there have been unintended consequences of the increased longevity. As I mentioned in a previous blog we are now a liability since we gobble up a lot of resources and contribute little.
POWER TO THE PEOPLE
Actually, there is no such thing as an Old Farts Club although there should be. AARP was designed to represent us, but they have found the insurance business to be more lucrative. In spite of its name, flatulence, although favored, should not be a prerequisite for joining The Old Fart’s club, although nearly all octogenarians could satisfy that criterion. For that matter since there are so many of us who suffer from that malady why not put simethicone in our water supply as was done with fluoride. Another option is to develop a method to recover all that methane which would undoubtedly contribute to a solution of the climate change problem. Properly organized such an organization could even form a collective to negotiate the prices of non-prescription drugs which could save millions in stool softener alone, not to mention the money which could be saved on the over-priced low dose aspirin the vast majority of old farts are taking on the advice of their physicians or TV.
Should such an organization come into existence my membership could be easily confirmed as I would arrive with impeccable credentials. One’s bona fides must include well documented behaviors and physical characteristics including the one inferred in the title of our organization. I am sure Barb (my wife) would willingly attest to my possession of innumerable qualifiers. Denial is one of the most powerful of all the mental mechanisms, but in my case, it has been overwhelmed by reality. The evidence which I could no longer hide from myself was exposed last week as I bought a lift chair and a cane.
To give up my well worn but comfortable chair was especially poignant for me. It had offered me blessed sleep at times when I could not lie flat in bed. I had spent endless hours in it escaping from reality via stupid TV shows or reading trashy novels. It also brought up memories of times past when giggling little bodies would occupy “Papa’s chair” then run screaming in mock terror when I feigned an attack. That chair is now occupied by barb who has long coveted it. It was perfect for reading, watching, and sleeping but getting out of it had become a chore for me but a breeze for my petite and agile wife. The new chair works quite well, and I now jump up from it like a teenager. Floyd has accepted it also and seems to prefer it to the old one, but that may have to do more with his understanding of who the alpha is in our house.
TOO MUCH TO BEAR (pun intended)
I accepted my need for the chair, but to accept the need for a cane was or perhaps I should say is more difficult. Although on an intellectual level I accept my old fart status, I would prefer that others would not notice. To use a cane is like having a sign on your forehead which announces: “I am decrepit”. Barb had convinced me that a bruised ego was preferable to a broken hip, so I looked for ways to minimize my exposure. I recalled from my earlier days that some very dapper men carried a walking stick, even those who were in no need of ambulatory assistance. Such instruments could serve the same purpose as an ordinary cane, but rather than the curved handle the shaft was topped with an ornamental ball or figure usually of brass or silver. They were made to be shown off rather than hidden. I was able to locate a number of walking sticks on the internet which I thought would help to disguise my gympieness, however none were long enough for my freaky long legs. Consequently, I bought a conventional very boring cane, which I now use only when all the disabled parking spots are occupied.
AS THE GROUP DWINDLES
Fraternization becomes progressively more difficult as old farts become old old farts. One of my uncles once belonged to a group of other old guys who met for years every day when the weather permitted on a series of park benches which lined the main street of the village in which they lived. They called themselves the liars club. Shortly after my retirement, I sought to replicate this idea, but soon found that it was already too late, for there were not enough able-bodied old farts left. Although activities such as class reunions offer a chance to reminisce, one’s initial response is to wonder how all those old people got in, until suddenly reality sets in.
I WANT TO BE GROWN UP
Recently I have noticed patronizing behaviors on the part of younger people, and have worked diligently on learning to enjoy rather than feel insulted with little success. For example, I abhor being addressed as “honey” or “sweetie”. I am aware that there is a kernel of truth in the aphorism, “once a man and twice a child” but I would rather not be reminded of it. It is true that when someone offers to give me a hand as for example getting up from a chair I tend to react much as would a toddler who insists on doing something without help even though it is beyond his capabilities. The opposite more extreme and hurtful is when one is ignored as if his opinions or observations are tainted by his age.
As you who read my stuff probably realize, I am fond of all those aphorisms I learned in childhood, nevertheless I continue to often avoid making good use of such wisdoms. The “don’t cut off your nose to spite your face” tenet was violated recently when I visited a local pet shop to purchase dog food. As I was preparing to leave, the petite little girl behind the counter asked if I would like for her to carry my purchase out to the car. I responded by throwing the 40 pound bag over my shoulder as if it were a bag of feathers, marching out to my car, going home to take a couple of Tylenol while hoping the pain would only be temporary and that I wouldn’t need another back surgery.
COULD HAPPEN TO ANYONE
Undoubtedly, a previously disastrous visit to that store was a contributing factor to her kind offer. On that prior visit I was accompanied by my son-in-law, and we were there to make use of the store’s dog wash facility. The visit did not begin well, for Floyd immediately decided to leave his mark by lifting his leg to wet down the display of cat toys. He then noticed another dog in the back of the store and launched an attack. Unfortunately, as he whirled around me at full speed, his leash wrapped around my legs and I ended up seated on my scrawny butt on a very hard floor. It has always mystified me that as men age their buttocks atrophy while women’s grow larger. In any event at that moment I could have used a bit of extra cushion. After I was lifted to my feet, I went about my business in true macho fashion without a whimper.
THE ADVANTAGE OF VERTICALITY
We old farts spend a lot of time in doctor’s offices and funeral homes. We are often lonely and miss those who have gone before. We are plagued with a variety of aches and pains, but in spite of its problems old age is not without its perks. As has been noted by many it enables one to get away with much unseemly stuff. Candor is usually tolerated and sometimes even admired, although when overdone will often be interpreted as a prelude to senility. Nevertheless, it is liberating to speak one’s mind with little concern as to the repercussions. It even allows some to write blogs with such tasteless titles as the one you are now reading. In recent years I have noted that much younger and often attractive young women may smile and speak to me during chance encounters. I was initially puzzled as to why these cute chicks were hitting on me until I looked in the mirror at which point It suddenly came to me that I must remind them of their grandfather. With that insight I now feel comfortable with and actually enjoy responding to such overtures in a grandfatherly way without fear of garnering the label of dirty old man.
SHOULDN’T EVEN BE HERE
On a recent visit, my doctor answered one of my questions with the statement: “when you get old things don’t function as well”. My response to this illuminating statement was: “no shit!!!” as this was not exactly breaking news. Personal experience made me aware of that great truth some time ago. This body we occupy is indeed an amazing piece of machinery. Mine has served me well and continues to do so in spite of my unrelenting abuse of it. It has survived all these years of constant abuse and only in recent years has rebelled. I have poisoned it with tobacco, an unhealthy diet and ignored its needs to function in the manner for which it was designed. In spite of the fact that it doesn’t function quite as well as it once did, I continue to function reasonably well, but more importantly enjoy and appreciate life perhaps more than I ever have. It is true that old age ain’t for sissys, but as has been said many times it certainly beats the alternative and I feel blessed to have joined the club.
P.S. I suspect my feminist daughter will note that I have used the male gender throughout my story, but this is only because the female experience may differ. Besides, in spite of my best efforts like Freud I have never understood women.