Another questionable treasure from the archives…
1. The name game.
You’re standing there with people you have known all your life, talking about other people you have known all your life, and suddenly you can’t remember the name of your first cousin that you have known all your life. It just won’t come to you. You can picture the face, you can recall everything you’ve ever done together, even the time when the two of you ran naked through the backyard because you were bored and there wasn’t anything on TV, but the damn name just won’t pop into your head. It’s as if your brain is so full that random bits of knowledge have dribbled out your ears, creating a stain that compliments the other stain on your shirt caused by your earlier, penalty-ridden attempt to eat gazpacho without creating a mess.
Twenty minutes later, when anyone who remotely cares what you might have to say has wandered off, the name will finally drift in out of the fog, even though it’s far too late for redemption at that point. But you can’t help yelling out “Bobby Joe!” with a mixture of relief and frustration, despite the fact that no one heard at all (not even the chair). Well, no one except those annoying child relatives (what are their names, again?) who race off to alert parental authorities, fully convinced that maybe it’s time someone handed you a brochure about the benefits of living in a secure retirement facility where there are established boundaries.
Urchin #1: “Mommy, Uncle Brian is talking to nobody again.”
Uber-Christian Mommy #4: “Maybe he’s talking to Jesus.”
Urchin #1: “Yeah, well, he’s probably gonna have to leave a voice mail.”
2. The popcorn thing.
So, you’re innocently sitting on the couch in the den, and all you intend to do is zip into the kitchen real quick for a nice snack of something that won’t make you have to pee in 5 minutes. You hoist yourself up, and suddenly the room is filled with the sounds of microwave popcorn just before the ding, with tiny explosions filling the air and echoing off the walls. All of that mess came out of you and your apparently no-longer-lubricated joints. To further the shame and degradation, the nameless urchin children will run up to you holding out empty bowls and a saltshaker, their eyes ablaze with greed and a slight tinge of fear that they are approaching That Crazy Muttering Man.
Urchin #7: “We couldn’t find any butter. Do you have the butter?”
Me: “If I had the right butter, I wouldn’t be popping.”
3. The “adult acne” thing.
What is this crap all about? I suffered enough on the first go-around, when some of my teen years were spent walking around like a textbook example of how one shouldn’t look if they ever expected to have quickie sex under the bleachers at a high-school football game. It was a wretched and miserable experience, made even worse by those annoying teens who never had a speck of a blemish, ever. This insufferable outrage was followed by a few soothing decades where I didn’t have to worry about such things and had sex with complete abandon whenever and wherever I wanted. Good times.
But now it’s back. There’s enough grease on my face lately to fry hush puppies. Really not impressed. (And this go around, the blemishes are more resistant to therapy, laughing at the cleansers and masks with wicked abandon.) Why do we have to go through these midlife hormonal changes? WHY? Haven’t we paid enough taxes to be exempt from this? There is clearly something wrong with the structure of modern society if I need vats of industrial-strength Clearasil when I’m already retired.
The Bathroom Mirror: “Honey, you need to do something about that mess or somebody is going to stick a drilling rig in your head. These Texans don’t play when they smell oil.”
Me: “I like you better when you’re steamed-up from the shower.”
The Bathroom Shower: “Don’t hate me because you’re not beautiful.”
4. The dripping faucet.
I just went to the bathroom. Why do I have to go to the bathroom again? I didn’t even make it down the hallway, let alone have the time to ingest any liquids that would justify a second round. And those reticent leaks that occur well after the deed was supposedly done? This is the only reason that I don underwear in public, just so I have some degree of control over sudden-spottage when I blithely waltz my way back from the restroom at Ojeda’s during Happy Hour.
My Underwear: “Where are we? The Amazon Rainforest? All I want is to be dry again.”
Me: “I hear ya, sister.”
The Waiter at Ojeda’s: “Um, do you need more napkins? Or perhaps a blow dryer? I think we have one in the kitchen. Be right back.”
5. All those pills.
Okay, so we go through our 20’s and 30’s and some of our 40’s never needing a prescription for anything, except an occasional bout of bronchitis or possibly a conjugal visit that should never have happened (and probably wouldn’t have if the drinks hadn’t been so cheap that fateful afternoon at the restaurant). Then we hit a point where we need a pill for everything. Cholesterol, blood pressure, anxiety, hoof-and-mouth disease, you name it. I might as well rent a cot in the pharmacy at Walgreens and let trained technicians walk by every hour and cram tablets in my mouth. It would certainly save time and effort.
The Pharmacist: “Have you heard about our bulk-rate plan? For every two thousand pills, you get a free bottle of mouthwash.”
Me: “Don’t you have something more important to do than torment me?”
The Pharmacist: “Oh, I do. But this is more fun. How do the axles not break on your car when you load up all this crap in your trunk?”
6. The impatience thing.
I used to be really sweet. All the time, with everybody. Not anymore. People annoy me. I don’t want to deal with them or their inability to function as decent human beings. There have been SO many times when I wanted to leap over the check-out counter and throttle that gum-smacking, obnoxious little twit with the attitude and the disdain for doing their damn job. But I don’t leap. Well, usually not. I take a pill for that now.
My Therapist: “I understand there was an unsavory incident at WalMart?”
Me: “Isn’t there always?”
7. The lack of caring about your couture.
There was a time when my daily outfits and personal grooming were of utmost concern. If things were a bit off and didn’t properly accent my dwindling best features, I wouldn’t leave the house. Now? Screw it. As long as I’ve showered and my loins are covered, we’re good to go. There’s nothing wrong with t-shirts that are not particularly flattering (Yes, I have man-boobs. Deal.), faded jeans that have seen better days (like 1987), and a hairstyle that can only be described as “well, at least it appears to be clean”. I’ve managed to live long enough that I just want to be comfortable, not win any awards.
Threadbare T-Shirt in My Closet: “Please don’t reach for me again. Haven’t I suffered enough?”
Me: “Don’t whine. At least I can still wear you, unlike many of your little friends on the shelf who haven’t been touched since the War of 1812.”
8. The fading eyesight thing.
Back in the day, I could spot the school bus three miles away and have plenty of time to slip into my designer jeans, feather my hair to perfection, and organize my notes from the previous evening’s episode of “Charlie’s Angels” for the inevitable discussion in the lunchroom. Today, I have to ask the Ojeda’s waiter to take the menu in the other room and hold it just right so I can read it and find an entrée that will cause the least digestive issues. Sometimes the waiter doesn’t come back from that other room. No tip for him. Wait, I do have one: Just wait. It’ll happen to you some day. Now get your ass back here and take my order.
Roadway Sign That Is Probably Saying Something Important: “xtsfljglkwr,lg”
Me: “Hmm. Maybe I should just get off this highway and never get on it again.”
My Car: “We’re still in your driveway, dude.”
9. The sleep thing.
If I can make it through three hours of uninterrupted sleep, I’m happy. Five hours and I am truly blessed. But many nights I just take catnaps between gurglings, odd night sweats, unusual pain in body parts that are hurting for no apparent reason, crazed dreams wherein I am doing things that make no sense unless peyote is involved, and mind-numbing flatulence. Eventually, I’m just wide awake and I lay there, listening to the further decay of my body and waiting for Ingmar Bergman to direct a black-and-white movie about my physical and mental decline, starring Catherine Deneuve and a lot of stark imagery.
Director Ingmar: “I’m not getting enough realism with your flatulence!”
Actress Catherine: “And I’m not getting enough inspiration from the writer!”
Writer Brian: “Really? Hang on while I gut-suck a few of those jalapeno poppers from Ojeda’s, then we’ll talk.”
The Waiter at Ojeda’s: “I’m sorry, but we don’t have any poppers ready at the moment. The kitchen is in an uproar after the hair dryer went missing.”
10. The lack of energy thing.
I realize that there are many important things I should be doing to keep my life in order and Code Enforcement off my ass for the appearance of my property. There are many charitable causes that would welcome my volunteerism with open arms and possible discount coupons at a local movie theater. And the whole political thing. I should be out there fighting for decency and some type of legislation that would prevent reprehensible elected officials from passing laws that harm the members of society they refuse to understand, just because they can. We still have such a long road, folks.
And to be fair, I am out there, trying. Usually. But there are some days when I just want to put on my jammie pants, grab the TV remote, start flipping through channels and suddenly…
It’s the next morning. Time for me to take some more pills. And thank the customers walking past my cot for shopping at Walgreens…
Previously published. Updated with extra flair and vibrant decay for this post. And yes, I realize that I have already whined about many of these things previously. I also realize that I am making myself sound older than I really am. Let’s just say that I’m making some practice runs, getting this out of my system now before I find myself in that secure retirement facility, unable to remember the name of my favorite word-processing software or the password I need to access it. (“Wait, it’s Bobbie Joe!”)