Curmudgeonly humorist-artist James Thurber treated the “war between men and women” harshly, looked askance at human foibles and pomposity in his “Thurber Carnival”, sketched countless hippopotamuses, and could not exist without canines in his life. His famous cartoon of ……humanity scurrying across the page — destination: cemetery – provides perspective as to how short and sweet life really is, delivering a vital and proper message: Let’s go for the gusto while we may!
I see in my “mind’s eye” brunette tresses rather than pewterish silver, smooth dewy skin sans wrinkles, and fine straight posture instead of curvature of an aging spine. No mirrors! Stunned when regarded as elderly, I laugh such misguided notions away joking with those far younger than I, realizing way down inside that time whizzes past us all. Very soon those who believe that some of us may need condescending assistance crossing the street will find themselves on those exact curbs watching road-rage traffic race to destinations unknown — and usually unnecessary.
Recently, although some stuffy peers still seem mired in time-warp land, a budding friendship blossomed into full bloom. Two childhood friends resumed a relationship which once subsisted on shyness and a little self-consciousness plus an entire two years age difference! Timmy the six pound Toy Manchester, angry at the world and possessing a hit list of those with whom he wished to even the score, bit “P. K.” Keithie Kleespie 55 years ago. Keith, engaged in playing our piano when the crime occurred, just this spring forgave our family I believe.
Thus, a former pathologically psychotic pet brought us two boomer-kids together to chat endlessly about the past, present, and future. My better half, not “left out”, joins in as he is the exact same age. Contrary to the adage “Two’s company…three’s a crowd”, our hours-long gab–fests mesmerize us. What a compatible trio!
Shared long-ago experiences include: curious neighbors gingerly pulling back lace curtains to spy on ebullient young families next door; surreptitious nocturnal shenanigans post-curfew; inhabiting the wrong places at the most inopportune time; the insane awkwardness of junior high “necking”; wondering who the “Joneses” might be and why any of us ever needed to “keep up with” them; and family road-trips in non-air-conditioned cars stocked with plenty of fried chicken packed within crushed ice. When the ice melted, we dipped wash cloths for thrusting through rolled-down windows. Sufficiently flapped in the breeze, we then applied “relief” all over our sweaty little faces.
As we leisurely cruise — from county to county and about town — via a sporty convertible, top up due to this irritatingly wet monsoon season, we celebrate the present.
The three of us nearly adopted the participating members of the newest version of the Eagles rock group, calling themselves “Hotel California”, after their spectacular concert at Warsaw’s Wagon Wheel Theater in the Round. We “Three Musketeers” plopped down into front row seats precisely at that entrance/exit ramp where in 1962, as an apprentice participating in Leonard Bernstein’s “On the Town”, I crashed in the dark into actor Jim Weston, who later achieved Broadway and television fame. I wore a full leg cast (not the theatrical kind) for the rest of the season. Ah, memories! Some teens lost their virginity around that time. I lost all mobility in the vicinity of my right patella forevermore.
Bar-bonding with musicians Mike and Andy post-gig, Keith snapped photographs with his freshly purchased disposable camera. Substantial proof exists that rock-stars probably are not only kind to puppies and children but also to old codgers as well.
My mom and her lady friends all passed around a copy of “Life Begins at Forty” to ease themselves into their “Middle Ages” about the time Elvis the Pelvis burst into social consciousness. Lately, I discovered that LIFE begins whenever one wishes; no age qualifications whatsoever. Maurice Chevalier crooned to Hermione Gingold, “…Oh, I’m so glaaaaad that IIIIIIII’m not young anymore!” in the l Lerner & Loewe musical “Gigi”. How sweet! I prefer Harry Nilsson’s “C’mon, Baby! Let the Good Times Roll!”
Should you encounter three grey heads poking from a 2006 Chrysler Sebring convertible, do wave at us. “Honk” if you approve of senior citizens, for indeed we have been around the block several times. We know our destination. Throughout this in-between time, the ride continues to be glorious.
Recently, we rediscovered one of our greatest classic American novelists who so aptly captured small town life, providing a road map to some semblance of communal coexistence!
Sinclair Lewis wrote in his 1920 novel, Main Street: “They were staggered to learn that a real tangible person, …married to their own flesh-and blood relation, could apparently believe that divorce may not always be immoral; that illegitimate children do not bear any special and guaranteed form of curse; that there are ethical authorities outside of the Hebrew Bible; that men have drunk wine and not died in the gutter; that the capitalistic system of distribution and the Baptist wedding ceremony were not known in the Garden of Eden; that mushrooms are as edible as corn-beef hash; that the word ‘dude’ is no longer frequently used; that there are Ministers of the Gospel who accept evolution; that some persons of apparent intelligence and business ability do not always vote the Republican ticket straight…
‘Where does she get all them the’ries?’ marveled Uncle Whittier Smail; while Aunt Bessie inquired, ‘Do you suppose there’s many folks got notions like hers? My, If there are,’ and her tone settled the fact that there were not, ‘I just don’t know what the world’s coming to!’ “
Additional typed quotes — now stashed inside Keith’s glove compartment — remind us that Mr. Lewis also advised, “There are two insults which no human being will endure: The assertion that he hasn’t a sense of humor, and the doubly impertinent assertion that he has never known trouble.”
“…the tragedy of old age…is not that it is less vigorous than youth, but that it is not needed by youth…”
And finally, “Sleep with me, sleep with my dogs.”
“Tous pour un, un pour tous!” ~ Alexandre Dumas in 1844