The signs of old age are all around us, if we want look.
A friend of mine reached age 65 and decided health warnings no longer applied to him. He resumed smoking (cigars) and nightly bar hopping. He ate cases of tuna, tons of mac and cheese and all the junk food and fast food he wanted. He started turning left on red and burning rubber at stop signs. He discovered speed dating at his Bingo game.
And he died at age 71.
Oh, well. One suspects he was in a happy delusion of death. Stuff happens. “Death – They always save the best for last.” I read that someplace.
Which begs a question: When are you old enough to “get by” with stuff instead of buying new? When do we no longer need the Craftsman Tools lifetime guarantee? When are 100,000-mile warranties on vehicle drive trains meaningless? How do we know when to shut off the monthly underwear purchases? What made the life-insurance guy stop calling?
Why do waitresses take the orders all around the table and the old guys last? “Did you remember your senior card.” It’s never a question.
Another pal says we have it all wrong. All this fear. All this worry about having enough for retirement. All these handgun sales. “Forget it and cope.”
Things to look forward to: Did you know if you’re older, your blood rushes to your stomach when you pig out at a meal? A lot of us agents of age require naps or even pass out from the low blood pressure. My friend straight-lined during a Big Mac BOGO sale, Code Bluesville.
He said the cool thing is the silence. You cannot believe all the noise your body makes, all that blood rushing and veins pulsing and, of course, your brain always thinking up things and repeating “Call Me Maybe.”
He felt this amazing calm despite the mayhem and paramedics. They popped him back pretty soon, but he said he’ll never regret testing the water on the other side. “Besides, my insurance covered it.”
There are many good things to being old beyond unlimited pancake days at the waffle shop. You can quit that back-stabbing, mother-my-dog office politics of getting ahead. This is what makes volunteering so appealing. “So fire me, like I care.”
You don’t need to look like Robert Redford when you go out to get the paper. You stop sweating blood tests and you patch your tires and jeans instead of buying new.
You find gems of memories in the Through a Century in the paper. You suddenly don’t understand “Pajama Diaries” in the funnies (no great loss).
I meet a college teacher of mine every Christmas to reminisce over burgers at John’s Bar. This year, he added bacon and cheese – not a good sign.
Page 2 of 2 - Our talk inevitably turned to lost friends. He said a lot of people are ditching the body views in favor of memorial services. I nodded. I never did look alive in a suit.
After 10 years of retirement, he’s going back to teaching this year, his “big news.” I’d love to be in one of his classes. Why not? Well, they’re in Tennessee.
This we share with our younger comrades. No matter what, no matter how old or young, “There’s always something.” Rats to that. Do they still make Geritol?