Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Aging friends

When your friends get old

            Lately I’ve been paying greater notice to my circle of friends. I started paying more attention to what they talk about, what they do, what they don’t do, where they go and how they get there. – In other words, I’m vetting them.

            At one time or other, we all need to scrutinize our acquaintances. The sooner the better. I’m going to thumb through my notes here and tell you what I’ve found. One thing that is glaringly apparent about these people is that they’re old.

            I never saw it coming, either. Just crept up on me. I used to go places and do things with these people. We’d play softball, volleyball, go on trips… we never bowled or roller skated, though. I probably shouldn’t read anything into that. 

            Most of them don’t even travel well. Just putting on their seatbelts is a monumental task. – “No, it’s still back there, Zelda. Floyd, give her a hand, would you? Floyd, she's the one sitting right next to you.”

            There were times when we played cards and board games. Charades, for heaven’s sake! – “I've I guessed ‘Matlock' six times and you're just now hearing me?"

            I was listening to an acquaintance talk about his new “C-PACK” machine. Can’t sleep without it. He went on and on, until I tactfully mentioned that the sleeping machine is actually called a C-PAP. – He say, “C-PAP? That doesn’t even make sense. No, what I’ve got is a C-PACK.”

            It’s happening in my family, too. About three weeks ago, Dennis met me in the parking lot of place where I was to give a talk. As we entered the building, I pointed to a restroom sign and told Dennis I needed to make a pit stop.

            He must’ve taken that as an invitation, because he followed me. I headed for the door on the right, the one that had “men” on it. It wasn’t until I pushed on the door that I noticed the “Wo” in front of the “men.” I told Dennis that the restroom had been moved, since the last time I was there. I could've sworn it was the door on the right. In fact, I thought that was the law. Lefty Lucy – Righty Teddy.

            Eventually, we both ended up in the gender appropriate facility, where upon I finished my business and was toying with the soap dispenser waiting on Dennis. I used to be the last one to finish, but that was before the doctor yanked out my prostate. -- TMI -- So, I’m playing with the soap dispenser when Dennis says, “Boy, I’m glad I came in here. If not, I wouldn’t have known that my paints were unzipped.” I would've led with that story for the talk I was to give, but by the time I got up there, I had forgotten about it.

            I read something last week about research suggesting some exercises to keep our minds alert. Did you see the article? One thing recommended was the making of crafts. You know, getting a big stick and carving a chain out of it? Arranging flowers. Make a kite and land it on a power line. Make jewelry out of dried toadstools. Stuff like that. – This kind of cra-- uh, craft is supposed to tune our minds.

            Board games were also mentioned. Chess came highly recommended. Personally, I’d learn to play the piano before I’d learn to play chess. And, I'll never play the piano. It was even found that going to the movies helps you remember stuff. Don’t sit in front of the TV and watch a movie. Get off your rear, get in the car and drive to a theatre. It’ll keep you alert.

            Unfortunately, few of my acquaintances will not go to a movie theater. It costs too much. They remember when a bag of popcorn was a dime. "You could get a bag of popcorn and coke for 20 cents. A big pickle for a nickel. A ticket cost 20 cents! So, there's no way on God's green earth, that I'm paying $3 to see one movie!" I though it best not to mention the actual price of a ticket.

            I get that. Burgers, tires, gasoline, Luby’s… everything costs more. Just keep in mind that, for most of us, a bottle of shampoo lasts a lot longer. I don't even have to wash the top of my scalp.  Oh, and since you’re old, you can cut in line at the expensive movies or at HEB and no one will yell at you, ‘cause YOU’RE OLD!

            I have no idea how I’m supposed to handle the problems with my old friends. I can’t see me outliving them. I can’t start being rude to them, ‘cause it’s just not in my character.

            I can’t see me befriending many younger people, because they're mean to me. They have so much energy and potential. They make me feel like an old man.

            I tell you where I am here. I’m at one of those conundrums. Or, I’m in one. However, a person experiences a conundrum, that’s where I am. Do I want to keep hanging around all of these old people, and just shuffle through life along with them? Will they detract from my mentally alert state?

            And, horror upon horror! What if I end up being the last one capable of driving? – Somebody hand me a big stick and a knife. I'm going to carve me a chain.
markhayter@suddenlink.net – Please tune in on Wednesdays at noon to listen to Mark and Kay on “Hanging with the Hayters”. --  FM 104.5 and 106.1 as well as at www.irlonestar.com.