Happy Old Me
It’ll be my birthday in a few days and this year I’m feeling it. My ankle is still a little shaky and it has made me physically unsure. It gets a little better every day but it has made me contemplate my mortality anew. I step off the curb more deliberately; I put on an elastic bandage if I think I’ll be walking for a while. I think about the body I usually take for granted.
My barber, an old Italian man in a toupee, horrified me yesterday. He said, “You know, your hair is very thick at the back. You could easily do a transplant and put some up front.” I barked out a laugh but he was serious, “One session, not very expensive at all.”. For the briefest of moments, I imagined what it would be like to have a full head of hair and then dismissed it in a vision of doll’s hairplugs and snickering comments behind my vain back. I told him that receding hairlines had been a family tradition for generations and to go easy on the gel.
Time does seem to be fleeting. Jack is nearly up to my shoulder these days. Summer’s almost done. And we are repainting our apartment and replacing the furniture we bought when we moved in nine years ago. Sic transit. Last weekend we went to 18 West 18th Street, the address where Patti and I met in a long defunct restaurant called Café Seiyoken. When we got married there, five years later, it was a another restaurant. Now it is a children’s book store. The spot where we said our vows is now a cupcake counter. The bar where we first met has been replaced by a rack of Eric Carle books.
I know, I know. What’s more tedious than a middle aged man bemoaning the passing of time? The odd thing about it all is how full life seems to be of things I’ve never done or known. In many ways, I feel dumber and more inexperienced withe each year. I am still learning how to be married after two decades, how to be a dad after eleven years. I still wonder where my career is going, still plan on getting into an exercise program, still consider getting a therapist, still consider moving to the other side of the world.
My grandfather was born in 1909 and he’s still alive and kicking, so chances are I may only be halfway through my journey. Then again I may be electrocuted by this computer and die today.
I do know I wish I had more time to draw so I could get really good at it. Last night I was curiously liberated when I spent an hour tracing a devilishly complex drawing by Ronald Searle. For months I have been looking for the right pen to duplicate his lines, thinking he must have used a dip pen or a rubbery fountain pen of some sort. But when I studied and reproduced his drawng, I discovered that his individual lines are remarkably consistent and that my Rapidoliner traced them perfectly. There’s no trick, no tool that I am missing. My pen is just fine.
Enough excuses. I should just take it outside and use it. But first, let me wrap up my ankle and suck down some Geritol.