Thursday, July 8, 2010

Growing Old

I spent some time with My Patriotic Friend on the Fourth of July, our American Independence Day, our most important national holiday. He appeared less jovial, and more introspective than usual. We tried to make light conversation, but it seemed shallow. While I did not want to intrude on his mood, I was curious and tried to be emphatic. After sharing some wine he volunteered as if he had sensed my need to comfort him, or at least to understand his grief. The following are his words as accurate as I remember.

“I read a poem when I was a boy. It was an allegorical reference to a man growing old. Although the man was still virile, he knew the signs of age as he reflected on his life: the things he cherished, the things he had done, the things he was still doing, the things he had not done. Perhaps you remember it … 'September's End'“
He named the poem, and indeed I did remember! Alas, I cannot show it here, for it was not in English. I could try to translate, but the poem would be ruined in the process. He continued.

“Those of you who are still young but may be feeling your youth slipping away know what I mean. You notice hairs growing on body parts that you did not know existed. You used to work a full day of hard labor, and maybe you still can, but the next day you are on your ass for you would rather not get up and groan with pain. Your former daily workout of an hour or more is now a small part of that. Your skin is not as tight and supple as it used to be. Your favorite clothes no longer fit. Your shape seems to have shifted from your and shoulders and chest to your waist and ass. You will have to buy longer belts.

“You now have to trim your nose hair regularly else it be mistaken for a mustache. Your eyebrows tend to be thicker than what’s left on top of your head.

“You still look at young women of your favored type, but try to do it furtively in case they are offended by it. You no longer think that you would have a chance with them before they shriek, 'You dirty old geezer, get away from me!'

“Your partner still puts up with you but much of what the two of you used to do is narrowing to … well, you fill in the options.

“You still don’t take crap from most men, but at some point you think, ‘Maybe I should just grin and bear it.’

“I have had these thoughts for a long time. Now, however, they are becoming real. I still need to take care of those who depend on me. At the same time I am thinking that some day I will not be here, so they must learn to fend for themselves. I watched my father go through this and saw his concern, and in a small way, I felt his pain then, but I was cocky and full of myself. Yet, I knew that some day I would have to deal with what he faced then. I am not quite there yet, but I now have a taste of my future, and I am not enjoying it.

“There are fewer opportunities to be manly, to be beautiful, to be brave. I have done some good things. I have done some exciting things. I have done dangerous, fascinating, sexual, sensual, loving things. But there are many things that I have not done and I know I never will. Pity.”

Damn! I am younger than he, but I am heading toward the same place. There are many things that I still want to do before I get there. Will I?

We drank more wine and talked politics and current events. His comments and logic were impeccable as ever. I should spend more time with him. There is much he can teach me. He is a national treasure, a mentor, and a true friend.

2 comments:

Her Majesty's Plaything said...

Hi SP:

This was a funny, sad, endearing post. I have reached many of the milestones you speak of. I need a machete to trim my nose hairs these days and am thinking of installing a second toilet next to my side of the bed....

appy said...

I know all these symptoms, sadly.
But you have to accept. Difficult, because your brain doesn't get old, perhaps wiser :)