Older, Wiser and Climbing Every Mountain
I do not feel old. But apparently I am.
The other day I went to buy tickets for the RB Film Fest. It’s one of my favorite days of the year, standing in line with the regulars outside the Film Society office on the first day of sales. I get to see people I haven’t seen in 365 days, picking up conversations like it was yesterday. This year, the society staff handed out numbers to us early birds and put out a bunch of chairs.
So there I am, walking up to the throng, and a woman seated in one of the chairs looks in my direction and asks, “Do you need a seat?”
I looked behind me to see who she was talking to. I was alone.
Okay, the woman may have been a few years, or perhaps decades younger than me, but did I really look like I couldn’t loiter upright for a half hour? Hell, I once stood in line for eleven hours for Billy Joel tickets. The operative word is probably “once,” as in “upon a time.” Crap.
Later, the UPS truck pulled up with a package for Bonnie from her doctor. It was an inflatable device to be used in the bedroom. Now before you start gagging and hollering TMI, listen to this: it’s a blow-up wedgie for the head of the bed to help with digestion. That’s right, an anti-reflux device.
To be clear, I only have reflux in two situations—first, drinking a Mimosa. It’s not the bubbly, it’s the acidic juice. So now I just have straight champagne, no problem. The only other time I get reflux is when I see Karl Rove on TV and who doesn’t.
However, my mate does suffer from the occasional bad night caused by food and beverage. Hence, instead of putting unsightly phone books under the legs at the head of the bed, we’ve installed an unsightly inflatable airplane chute.
I’d like to say that the last time I inflated something at bedtime it was a blow-up doll, but I was never that naughty. Now, we pump up the wedgie to raise the head of the mattress and try, just try, to get into bed. With half the length of the bed propped up by a beach ball, you have to be a gymnast to get into the sack. The first time we tried, it was like high jumping onto a waterbed. Then we had to figure out how to sleep sitting up and laughing.
But that was easy compared to what happened when I got out of bed to turn off the hall light. Bonnie, remaining somewhat prone, saw her side of the mattress suddenly deflate, while my side shot up like Space Mountain. I’d have to pole vault to get back in. I suggested that my spouse roll to the middle to give me a fighting chance. A rope and mountain climbing crampons might have helped, but I finally hoisted myself back aboard.
Unfortunately, the incident repeated itself when Bonnie got up to pee at 3 a.m. With no warning at all, my side of the bed went limp and a Schnauzer rolled off, followed closely by most of me. It would have been all of me but I grabbed the headboard and hauled myself back up Pike’s Peak. Doing chin-ups on the headboard is not my idea of bedtime relaxation. Okay, so there will be no more “now I lay me down to sleep at our house.” It’s like spending the night on K2.
My being a mountain goat aside, I refuse to believe I’m actually as old as it says on my driver’s license. I mean Bonnie complains that I still have more energy than the Washington Redskins. Although I don’t think she’s referring to how well they run the ball, but how well I run my mouth.
Even so, there are insidious reminders of my biological age cropping up everywhere.
Today in Walmart I didn’t recognize any of the singers on the CDs labeled just released but Simon and Garfunkel were dumped in the bargain bin. Then I saw that most of the stuff in my shopping cart said “for speedy relief.” Would I remember where my car was in the parking lot or drive home with my left turn signal blinking the entire way? Could this really be happening to me?
Well, the answer is yes. And no. While it’s sad but true that in an antique store the other day I heard myself say, “I remember these,” I maintain that I am not your typical aging boomer.
I dressed up for Halloween, I do not eat dinner at 4 p.m. (okay, there is the Saketumi happy hour where you have to order by 6 p.m.), and nobody has to worry about calling my house at 9 p.m. and asking ,“Did I wake you?”
Also on the plus side, the criminal amount I’ve paid in health insurance is my only investment that’s starting to pay off. The other day a comic said old people have it pretty good—in a hostage situation we’re most likely to be released first. That’s comforting.
But the real trick is having the best of both worlds. I may be retired from 9-5, but I’m working harder than ever as a full-time writer and publisher—and loving it. It also doesn’t hurt going to the mailbox once a month and getting a government check.
But the trick to navigating this getting older thing is knowing exactly when to cave. Recently, a great big truck backed into my driveway (shameless plug alert!) and delivered thousands of copies of my new book, For Frying Out Loud—Rehoboth Beach Diaries. In preparation, using age and experience to advantage, I contracted with several strapping young women to move cartons around while I stood and watched. I even sat in a beach chair to ogle. Although, I repeat, nobody needs to get up to give me a seat on the subway or anywhere else. Ask, and I’ll slap you.
Meanwhile, since this is the last column of 2010, I wish all of our Letters readers a grand Thanksgiving and holiday season. I’m off to grab a Sherpa guide Schnauzer and scale Mt. Kilamanjaro on the way to bed. “Hey, Bon, roll to the middle….”
Fay Jacobs is the author of As I Lay Frying—a Rehoboth Beach Memoir and Fried & True —Tales from Rehoboth Beach, and the newly released For Frying Out Loud—Rehoboth Beach Diaries. Contact her at www.fayjacobs.com.