It’s been a while.
I guess I’ve been been busy. (I recognize that as excuses go that’s a pretty lame one but alas, it’s all I’ve got.) But busy doing what? Uhhhh… all I can think of is “turning into an old man.” I’m sure there was other stuff but that’s all that comes to mind. (Well that and eating. That goes without saying.)
Yesterday (this was written a long time ago) breakfast was downtown. There were eggs (well, duh). There was the place where the Lizard of Doom used to hang out. (He’s gone now. We’re all safe. From giant rampaging reptilian monsters, anyway.) There were literature professors. (Well, one but that’s usually enough.) All kinds of things.
The one I remember — the one that resonated the most — was about aging. It said something like
As you get older three things happen: Your memory goes and I can’t remember the other two.
Or something like that.
Aging, of course, needs rather more than a T-shirt to decipher. I mean, some things are obvious (all it takes is time — that’s pretty clear) but there are a hell of a lot of things that aren’t — there are things you need to learn, music you have to reconsider (I don’t remember this line back in ’82, for example), things you have to do. It can be surprisingly complicated. (Slippers, for example. I never could get the hang of slippers. Or Thursdays. And I don’t like Matlock. Or bingo. Or Old Spice. I could go on.)
On the other hand, some things have been surprisingly easy: I joined the Old Men’s league at the curling club (which, apropos to nothing, is something my Dad refused to do until his mid-seventies) a while back and that went okay even though some of them don’t like my pants or shirts. When the nice lady named after a doughnut mentioned the Old Man Cafe I immediately went there (and it was pretty darned good). I’m sure there are other age-appropriate things that would be equally easy that I should learn.
So I consulted my copy of the Catalogue of Cartoonish Old Man Behavior and it suggested a bunch of stuff, some of which I instantly rejected (Garage sales? Absorbine? Ecch.) But it also suggested “staring off into the distance and shouting at nothing” (which I can totally get behind), “peeking through the curtains and staring at passers-by” (ditto) and of course “yelling at people to get off my lawn” (which is a true classic and something all old guys should aspire to).
So I got busy. All of this stuff came easily enough, though I have to admit that my favorite was the “peeking through the curtains” one so I did that a lot. And I learned a few things. I learned that a large proportion of people walking dogs on our street slow down when they pass behind the radish bush. (I only shout “I know what you’re doing back there!” occasionally. It’s not in CATACOMB, after all.) I learned people don’t wear socks as much as they used to. (“Really? And what the hell is up with that exactly?”) And I learned that to some people, we live in The Creepy Old Glace Place. (Cue ominous music and foreboding flashes of lightning.)
Because one day I was ‘busy’ peering out the window when the neighborhood economist (well, one of them) walked by with the dog named after Katherine Heigl. “I wonder if he’ll slow down when he passes behind the radish bush like everyone else” I thought. But he didn’t walk behind the radish bush — he and the dog named after Katherine Heigl crossed the street rather than walk too close to the Creepy Old Glace Place. (BOOM!)
Huh. What’s up with that?
Fast forward a few weeks. Ms. Rose had an appointment across town. I went along so that during the appointment I could go for a walk. (It’s good for Old Men to get a moderate amount of exercise — something else I learned when reading my handbook.) So I wandered around, stomped some frogs and maybe even played on the swings a little. It was a nice day.
But as I was doing my usual
wobbly shamble confident stride down the sidewalk I noticed a guy walking toward me with his dog. (In this case I have no idea who the dog was named after.) We approached one another. And…
He moved off the sidewalk and gave me a wide berth. A really wide berth. He didn’t cross the street — quite — but he did everything but.
so I learned that it’s not the Old Glace Place that’s the problem. It’s me. (The ghostly voice of my Grade 13 English teacher intones ‘It is I, you idiot’.)
This guy must be an economist.
Some days even an old guy can learn a thing or two.