Share this article

print logo

The Middle Ages: A horizon of sunsets, bacon

I am contemplating retirement. This isn’t recent. It has been going on since the fourth grade, when I looked out the classroom window one snowy afternoon – perfect for sledding – and thought to myself: “Retirement cannot come soon enough for me. Let’s see, how many more days: One, two, three...?”

From that moment, I became obsessed with the notion of retirement, even though it seemed forever away.

“Your son seems to bask in idle moments,” my teacher wrote to my parents at the time. “Please come in at your earliest convenience.”

Showed her, huh?

Meanwhile, many of my slightly older friends are now in the first stages of retirement. Paul. Cherry. Rich. Susan.

My attorney, “Bankruptcy Bob,” who also handles prenups and fence disputes, announced recently that he’s got one year left. So if you’re going to sue me, do it soon. I promise you that Bankruptcy Bob will show up in court in motorcycle leathers and carrying a sandwich the length of Beyonce’s leg. I’m hoping Judge Judy can preside.

In any case, these retirements are suddenly rampant among my 60ish friends. This happened suddenly. A few years ago, no one even talked about retiring. Now retirement seems on everyone’s lips, a lingering Valentine’s kiss, like Bogart smooched Bacall.

Those who have already gone through it issue dire warnings. “Have a plan! Don’t go in unprepared!”

Well, I certainly won’t be unprepared. I’ve been mentally ready since that snowy day in the fourth grade. As for needing something to do, isn’t that the point of retirement? The sweet nothingness of it? The chance to savor a sunset for a change?

For years, I’ve worked in a gigantic “news casino,” a largely windowless building where morning is identical to night, and the odds are always against you. The only time that time matters in a news casino is when you blow a deadline. Then the titans send their henchmen: beheadings, floggings, etc. I can assure you it’s all done very professionally. No way should it deter you from a career in “the media arts.”

Still, I can’t tell you the syrupy sunsets I’ve missed and the family dinners with my 40 demanding kids.

Lately, the talk is how Americans haven’t saved enough for retirement, now that companies no longer offer pensions.

Fortunately, I don’t need much in retirement. Just the love of a good dog – not my current dog, whom I despise. A real dog. I’d rather have a hundred hamsters than the dog I currently have, a 300-pound beagle with drinking problems and a lousy attitude. If the little guy didn’t love him like a mom, I’d have the beast deported to Iran, where he would quickly scarf down all their fissionable nuclear material.

So, yeah, the love of a good dog will be important. And bacon (of course). And sunsets. Lots and lots of sunsets.

Dr. Steve, who studied at USC and now works out of the trunk of his car, predicts I might live forever. I aced my recent cholesterol test, and when he asked me about my diet, I bragged, “Mostly bacon.”

He seemed pleased.

“Whatever it is, keep doing it,” Dr. Steve said.

I’ve always considered bacon to be the caviar of the common man. As such, it may be the secret to a long and contented retirement.

I love bacon’s simplicity, its musk, its rugged saddlelike texture. You should see what it does for my core muscles – like chain mail across my midsection.

In the gym, I cover my tight tummy with a towel, so as not to demoralize the millennials, whom I am always standing up for, though the humorless little spazzes rarely appreciate it.

As a colleague noted, “Before hipsters were cool, weren’t they just dorks?”

Whatever ails me as I get older, know this: I will fight to the final breath. I told the kids the other day that I plan on living to watch Super Bowl 100 with them. By then, maybe Beyonce will be retired, too.

Perhaps she’ll sing at my funeral?

In any case, it’ll be a nice service. According to my will, they’ll place me (face up) on a pool table at a noisy Irish bar, surrounded by plenty of cheese and processed meats.

If it’s happy hour, you can order the fried calamari. If not, tough.

The eulogy, which I’m writing myself, will go like this:

“Simple man. Kind. Steady. Really ripped. Liked his bacon. Basked in idle moments. Never quite the same after ‘Taxi’ went off the air.

“Gooooooooo Cubs!!!”

Email Chris Erskine at, or follow him on Twitter at @erskinetimes.