Geezer, old duff, old fart, codger and old coot are all words that describe the descent of the human male into decrepitude. I myself am more rapidly spinning into this malady than I thought I ever would.
Many parts of my body have shifted into neutral, or at least a holding pattern, on my path into old age. Fortunately, my hair, teeth and testicles are still sticking around and two of the three are still functioning as nature intended. The landing gear (legs and feet) are still strong, the waist is carrying more than its share of my weight and the mind is still sharp. I don’t have any artificial knees, hips or shoulder joints. So, I guess I’m doing all right.
When I hit seventy, I went on the five-year plan, meaning I made plans for things to do until I hit seventy-five. In October I’ll have to do another five-year plan to make it to eighty. Once I hit eighty, I’ll reduce the expectations placed on my brain and body and opt for a two-year plan. If I make it to ninety, I’ll shrink that to the monthly plan.
Yesterday, a Thursday, my eyes deceived me. Two young men met with my wife about a gardening project she doesn’t want to tackle and there is no way she can cajole me into doing it for her.
The man in charge was young and articulate as was his young helper. I was speaking with the second when I knew my eyes had deceived me. I knew this because he told me the man in charge was his soon to be son-in-law. Startled, I blurted out, “I don’t think a person can marry a ten-year-old girl in the state of Wisconsin”. The man then informed me that his daughter was soon to be twenty-one and that he himself was forty-three and a soon to be grandfather. I’d have guessed him to be somewhere in his mid to late twenties. He is well preserved way before the time he needs any preservation.
Maybe there is a plus side to the shelf-life extenders manufacturers are putting in foods these days. You have seen a bunch of this stuff on ingredients lists of processed foods. Those with such wonderful sounding names such as sodium nitrate, monocalcium phosphate, potassium chloride, maltodextrin and dehydrated water. There are hundreds of things in our food that will preserve it, but I have not found any formaldehyde yet. Maybe all the stuff scientists tell us is bad for us and going to kill us is actually good for us. Personally, I think that if you can’t pronounce it, you shouldn’t eat it. I can pronounce bacon, eggs, fast-food and hot dogs.
I have a picture of my mom’s brothers taken on her wedding day, June 24, 1941. The range of age for those guys runs from thirty to forty years but by the standards of today those men would appear to be in the sixty to seventy range. My uncle John is in the picture and is, along with his brother Jake, rapidly becoming bereft of hair. The women, all the wives of those brothers, are in another picture and range in age from twenty-one to forty-one. The twenty-one-year-old appears both over thirty and grumpy, but that may be due to the fact that she was pregnant with her second child when the picture was taken. She had nine more kids along the way. All of these uncles and aunts had large families and all of them look tougher than an old piece of rawhide in the photo.
One of my uncles is conspicuously absent from the photo because he had died in 1938 and was under the age of forty when he met his maker. He and his wife in his short time on earth produced eight children. His wife lived to be ninety, so it is apparent that he wore out, she didn’t.
Come to think of it, all those wives of those seven men outlived their men and they had produced dozens of cousins for me. Four dozen plus. I thank them for that and am happy they lived parts of their lives not being pregnant after their husbands croaked.
As for preservation I believe I am fairly well preserved. I get up in the morning, I stretch and look in the mirror and I don’t look that bad for a man of my age. Then I put on my glasses and reality strikes. Suddenly, an old man is looking back at me.
Arian is a short story contributor to the Sentinel & Rural News. Arian has written two full-length thrillers which have received critical and popular acclaim. Arian lives in Bruce, WI, with his charming wife, Arlene.Profile
The Sentinel & Rural News covers the news and events of Clark County and southern Taylor County, as well as regional news that affects those areas.