Monday, March 03, 2008

The Roomatizz And How To Get It, or: One Thousand Unnatural Shocks

It was sort of surreal being in the front row at a Chris Rock show.

More so than being at a concert because watching one person onstage talking feels much more intimate. There feels like a lot of eye contact going on even when it isn’t and, at the very least, you know your reactions are on display much more than if you were in the balcony.

Thank goodness audience banter isn’t a part of Rock’s act or I surely would have been made sport of.

I attract them like a magnet.

There was a pre-Tonight Show Jay Leno tripping me up about my gas station job, and Richard Belzer razzing me about the pen in my shirt pocket (“Big date tonight, thought you’d dress up?”)

They would always assiduously avoid taking on the wife at these shows, however. Frankly, I don’t blame them. You don’t want to engage her in a battle of wits if you can help it.

So they would light upon me, an obvious punk that you could push around.

But the wheel will turn, gentlemen, it shall turn. The great mandala of the universe will revolve and my revenge will be sweet as you cower in the face of my witty and truculent barbs.

And all things, indeed, do turn.

Before the show we ate at a lovely little Italian restaurant that served marvelous food at reasonable prices. They were geared to the theater crowd and, as such, the clientele tended to be on the older side.

Even the few younger people there sounded old, going on about one of the latest American Idol contestants. “You really want him to be part of your world!” one exclaimed with enthusiasm.

I made a mental note to steer clear of her world, if at all possible.

Still, when I find myself in the midst of older, middle-aged crowds, I have to remind myself that I’m with my peer group or close to it. It makes me feel very unsettled.

When we were kids, we’d make fun of the way the older folks would go on about their aches and pains and talk about how they knew a storm was coming because their "roomatizz" was acting up. All that complaining all the time! It was easy to mock them because we didn’t live in that place. That was where the old people lived and we were never going to go there.

All those immortal days, I can feel them still. Slipping like golden sap through the autumn gloaming.

There is no staying The Roomatizz, though, that whole package of human weakness and infirmity that is our mortal birthright. It will find you and break you down until the kids start to laugh at you.

Which is only fair. Their turn will come.

And now The Roomatizz is here for me, at last.

After feeling for years that I could never really feel comfortable anymore, this eventually escalated into chronic pain and discomfort that I recently decided I could no longer live with.

The diagnosis seems to be Osteoarthritis (blood work having ruled out the Rheumatoid variety) for which we’re taking an anti-inflammatory and a twice-daily regimen of Tylenol.

It’s managed to take the edge off but it’s still not as controlled as I’d like, especially one hip which doesn’t seem to be responding as well as I’d hoped.

Still there is some relief, which I am grateful for.

I think it was Gertrude Stein who pointed out that human beings understand intellectually that they must eventually disappear to make room for the new people who will appear to replace them, but that emotionally we feel as if the world began when we began. All that stuff they say happened before we got here can’t really have happened, can it?

Because then we’d merely be another tick on a calendar that started long before we did and which will no doubt continue long after we’ve gone.

How can that be true?

As I scan the restaurant it starts to sink in that, at some point, I’m going to get escorted down some corridor to oblivion.

Who knew The Roomatizz was real?

Who knew the world was?


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