By Bob O’Connor
Since we all age at exactly the same rate, why is it that some of us do so gracefully, while others … not so much? When I was a very young man, I was told several times that I resembled Bruce Springsteen. Four or five decades later, the Boss still looks good and I look like David Crosby. Old Dave did a mountain of drugs and nearly died of a diseased liver; I have no excuse.
Worse than the physical decline, my new eccentric personality has become a source of unending amusement for my four adult children. Father has become the fodder. They now tell tales as in “You won’t believe what dad did today!” or “Did you hear what the old man said at his birthday party!” I think I am becoming a bit of a legend.
The other day I was shopping at Chez Goodwill when I spotted a T-shirt which proclaimed:
I bought it, figuring I’d wear it at the next get together and give my kids something to talk about. When they were little, I entertained them with goofy songs and silly stories. Sadly, I have now become the entertainment.
Anyway, when I got the shirt home I discovered it was a bit on the racy side. It seems I missed the arrow pointing upwards above the phrase “THE MAN”. More importantly, I also missed the arrow pointing down below “THE LEGEND.” My first thought was to hide the offending garment in the rag bag. Instead I made the mistake of showing it to number two son who literally fell on the floor laughing. He then photographed the thing and sent it out to his three co-conspirators.
My wife gave the shirt a bemused once over and said, “Think you can return it and get your money back? I really don’t think it is right for you.”
The text messages began to fly. Daughter No. 1 has developed a wicked sense of humor since having children of her own. She sent the following:
This is a code red! We planned for the day when dad would finally lose it.
Bro: tell dad you are taking him out for ice cream and I’ll meet you at the hospital. Just like we practiced; you call the doctor and I’ll call the parish priest.
THIS IS NOT A DRILL, PEOPLE!!!!
Daughter No. 2 texted:
I think I’m going to throw up!
All I can think about is the line from the movie Sandlot; “Legends never die.”
No. 1 son added this:
Now he has ruined both sex and T-shirts for me.
Meet you guys at the psych ward; I’ll bring Doritos.
For my part, I took all this not so good-natured kidding in stride; I am, after all, a legend. I knew my tormentors when they were toddling around in diapers and spouting nonsense. (This, they would say, is my future.) Near the end of her life, my own mother used to call me on a daily basis and ask for help with the TV remote. I would patiently talk her through it.
“Mom,” I’d say. “First hit the power button.” I’d then hear the tones as she pushed buttons on her portable phone. After a few seconds, she’d come back saying the remote must need batteries. I would gently explain that she was trying to use her phone to turn on the television. The best part was she would invariably burst out laughing. Mom knew she was getting a bit dotty, but she accepted it with grace and humor. I intend to be a curmudgeon.
Years ago, Bette Davis remarked that “Old age is no place for sissies.” This was long before tweets, texts and trolls. Ms. Davis had no idea how bad it can be.
Bob O'Connor is contemplating curmudgeonhood.