Saturday, March 14, 2015

Ah, The Joys of a Long Life

I read years ago about a study wherein people were asked, “How old is OLD?” and not surprisingly the answer depended upon the age of the respondent.  The older the respondent, the older the age he answered.

I now have the definitive answer: 80.

Walter Cronkite was in his 80s when he cooked up his rules for old men: ”Never trust a fart. Never pass up a drink. Never waste an erection." 

The eighties is when it all happens.  And it’s all bad, or, at the very least, damned annoying.

One day you’re on the tennis court, kicking butt with the other geezers.  The next day you can’t get out of bed.  You don’t want to get out of bed.  Ever.

On your computer, the Top Ten on the “favorites” list are medical sites.  You’ve got a private “book” on your cause of death:  Cancer 5-1; heart attack, 7-5; gout . . . . and so forth. 

You can’t remember all the names of everyone in yesterday’s foursome, but you can remember a telephone number from your childhood — Jefferson four, two six nine two — and you cannot get it out of your head.  Whose number was it?  Er. . . . .

Of course you don’t want to get out of bed in the morning!  If you get out of bed you have to put yourself together.  You have to find all the damned spare parts.  Eyeglasses.  Store-bought teeth.  Hearing aids.  Heel lifts.  Walking cane. Back brace. Support hose.  Knee brace.   Any day now add diapers.  You’ve got to remember to take your medicine, your vitamins and your constitutional. Especially your constitutional or else today will be the day you need diapers.  When you finally get around to getting dressed the pants you intended to wear will be at the cleaners, the shirt you intended to wear will have gone to the Goodwill months ago and someone will have moved the sock drawer while you were sleeping.  When you finally totter out to face the world your wife looks up from the newspaper, gives you one glance and asks, “Why are you wearing one brown shoe and one black shoe?”  You thought you’d put on sneakers.

When you were a kid of, say, 70, you’d never have dreamt how many things can ache at once.  Back then you’d wake up bright and early to take the dog for a brisk walk but suddenly be reminded that you had a sore knee from yesterday’s walk.  Gulp down a couple of ibuprofen and everything’s OK. Now you wake up bright and early, put off getting up as long as you can, and when you finally face the inevitable, each thing you try to move hurts. Neck.  Shoulders. Knees.  Feet. You name it.

You ask your wife, “How many ibuprofen did the doctor say it’s safe to take at one time?”  “You asked me that yesterday,” she says.  “I did? Well, tell me again.”

Naps.  Once you've put yourself together, dressed, gone out to face the day, you immediately start thinking about nap time. Other than cocktail hour, nap time is the best time of day.  Before it became politically incorrect, cartoonists used to draw images of Mexicans under big sombreros taking their siestas.  WE thought it was funny then. Now it's the mental image that sustains you through lunch.

One of the reasons you need naps is because you spend so much time looking for things. Once I vowed never again to spend 45 minutes looking for keys.  I made five duplicates of every key and put the spares in places where I was likelyn to need them.  From then on, whenever I needed reading glasses, all I could find were keys.

Slogans help, too, when you're in your 80s.  Take cocktail hour.  Used to be, it never began  before 5.  Hence the slogan of the old man:  "Hell, it's five o'clock somewhere." Winston Churchill is a good role model.  In his 80s, he'd sip brandy morning till night.  And he was still working.

Acid reflux.  I think that’s what we used to call “indigestion.”  Whatever it is, you only get it from eating your favorite foods.  Turnips?  You could gorge all day on turnips and you wouldn’t get acid reflux.  Walk past a simmering bowl of pasta with scallops and green chili alfredo — you don’t even have to taste it — and you’re doubled over with acid reflux. As Dick Cheney will say, when he turns 80, “Go reflux yourself.”

Or, as someone else — I forget who — once said, “Old age ain’t for sissies.”

It begins at 80.  Trust me. I’m there.

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