Sunday, July 03, 2005

Bifolklore Of The Vienna Sausages, or: A Grim Fairy Tale

At the risk of these musings turning into a countdown to my officially becoming "Over The Hill," I must admit that the signs of aging have started to come upon me thick and fast.

I know this because with each day I seem to become more thick and less fast.

I called a friend the other day whom I hadn’t spoken to in a long time and learned that he, too, was about to start using a CPAP machine for sleep apnea. Apparently these are becoming standard issue once you pass a certain age, like driver’s licenses. Can’t complain, though, as breathing through the apparatus is probably good training for the many operations and hospital visits I suspect are around the corner.

I debate the merits of various (prescribed) drugs with friends and we all know what they are and what they do, our conversations sounding increasingly like the ones we hear from the senior citizens at the Deli.

Where we also seem to be spending a lot more time, by the way.

We go shopping for a birthday card for my father-in-law who has recently turned 88, god bless him. I can’t help but peek at the "So You’re 50!" cards, though, and am rewarded with jokes about my rapidly approaching inability to drive a car, have sex, or eat without drooling down my shirt.

Youth culture seems an increasingly distant and obscure collection of signs and passwords that I no longer comprehend.

"Did Your Favorite Groups Play At Live 8?" an online headline asks me. You must be joking. My favorite groups have either died, retired, or gotten a proper job. All I hear now is the metallic clang of vandal swords as they push their way through the city gates.

The young thing on the cover of the wife’s Victoria’s Secret catalog has her legs drawn up to her chin as if to say, "I’m trying to make this as easy as possible for you, old man," but I can’t imagine what the two of us would talk about afterwards.

And now, the coup de grace :

I have crossed the River Styx, children.

I have entered the enchanted kingdom of the line bifocal.

There is no more obvious and universally identifiable sign that one has given up the fight than that tell-tale scratch across the lens that declares, "Decrepitude, you have won. Deterioration, you may have what’s left. To the victor goes the already irreversibly spoiled."

The eye doctor had originally recommended these "progressive" lenses that provide areas in the lens to aim your eyes at, depending on the distance involved. This sounded far too complicated so I went for the old line bifocal, the alternative being two separate pairs for distance and reading, respectively.

Call me Prufrock. I grow old, I grow old.

And you know about the trousers.

It’s funny, though. I always thought I’d be someone who would navigate these life passages with dignity and acceptance, as I made my way through nature’s inevitable stages.

Turns out I’m not. But you should see the grace and humor of my 88-year old father-in-law. We should all be as sharp and intelligent and funny when, or if, we are lucky enough to reach those isles. I’d like to be like that.

A friend e-mailed me about Live 8, saying he expected to see the wife and I down there popping aspirin and acting a quarter of our ages. I told him that we now snort Metamucil, but I appreciated the kind thought.

Actually I can’t speak for the wife, who shows every sign of being her father’s daughter when it comes to not going gentle into that good night.

As opposed to her nitwit husband, who seems anxious to be turned into Soylent Green as soon as possible.

Remember, I’m tasty when used with a spreadable snack!


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