© 2023 Robert Sickles
I couldn’t blame my younger family and friends for thinking of me as a fogey, a bubble-headed old fart, or a fuddy-duddy geezer. I mean, they were gathered around the chips and dip, gabbing about one of them applying for an IT job, and I poked into the conversation and jokingly asked, “What is an IT anyway, is it anything like an ET?” Blank looks all around. “So that means you know about bytes and chips and stuff, huh? Hey, watch this:” I take a bite of chips. “Well, can you tell me this? My Sonicare electric toothbrush has a blue light, would that mean it’s a Bluetoothbrush?”
I guess they didn’t get my humor. After they finished rolling their eyes, I told them how things were in my day. I told them there was no such thing as IT, and I made a living by using my hands and simple tools to make things out of fossil woolly mammoth tusks. And someone muttered, “Talk about fossils… is he a Neanderthal or something?” More of their snickering at my expense. That’s when I started calling the youngsters "whippersnappers." I’ve crossed the Rubicon; I am officially old.
A privilege of the Silver Years is remarking about the way things are nowadays vs. the way things used to be. The whippersnappers like to egg us on with that. My granddaughter’s boyfriend saw me aiming my pocket digital camera, which I thought was pretty sharp and high-tech. He had his fun with me, “Whoa, is that a camera? I think I’ve heard of those!” I reminisced about the days of buying film in cartridges and putting photos in albums. I caught myself just before starting my sentence with “Back in my day, young fella…”
A while ago, I was watching my 12-year-old grandson, another whippersnapper, play his Minecraft video game on my laptop. I wanted him to know about a video game I liked, “Here, can I show you something I used to play? It’s called Ms. Pacman… ever heard of it?”
“Oh yeah,” he replied earnestly, “I think that was popular back in the 1900’s.”
When I was a kid, when someone said “the good old days” I pictured a horse and buggy stopping at the general store, two guys on the porch whittling and spitting, and a boy playing with a stick and barrel hoop over by the old blacksmith shop. At today’s condensed rate of change, the “good old days” are only a few months ago. Remember when we were so limited that we only had 3G phones and 2D printers? Bygone days!
To the new arrivals at the Silver Years or Golden Years…or whatever this is, I welcome you and hope you enjoy the transition from hipsters to geezers. We are running a different game plan in our 4th quarter. Whether we’re using a hurry-up offense or running the clock out, it can be either a wonderful time for laughter and gaining perspective, or we can feel like hopeless boobs. Please choose to laugh... and do your happy dance in the end zone.
If you are recounting your surgeries and medications to anyone who’s within earshot, that could be a sign that you are swan-diving into senior moments. I understand. When we’re in pain we want someone to know. Let’s just try to catch a breath before strolling down the memory lane of our medical archives and thinking that serves as conversation.
I sat next to a guy at the clinic waiting area. He started it. “Oh, my poor legs, look at these sores, I’m afraid I’m going to wind up in a wheelchair.”
I could have given him a caring smile and picked up a magazine. But instead, out of my mouth, “Diabetes?” And for the next 12 minutes we each shared our entire medical histories. Actually, he was still reminiscing about his first bout with gout when my number was called. But he continued without a pause, turning to the person sitting on his other side. Just saying, maybe your healthcare professional should be the one to hear all this stuff? I speak from experience, the 21-year-old waiter at Olive Garden or the young neighbor with a baby stroller do not want to hear about my polyps and ingrown toenails. When someone asks me, “How are the toenails doing?” I must remember to just say that they’re fine, thanks!
So now, more about my medical issues… no just kidding. But I am keen to talk about eye floaters these days. Do you know about those tiny clumps of goo that bounce around inside the eyeball? They sometimes increase with age. It can look like something is drifting around out there in the periphery. One time I was talking to Linda and she kept rolling her eyes up to the right over my head. I thought her attention was drifting so I spoke a little more directly and moved so I was in her line of sight. Still, she kept looking up at something behind me. OK. Getting perturbed, I finally had to know, “What? What are you watching? Are you hearing me? Is there a spider on the wall? It’s very distracting while I’m trying to tell you something!”
Her reply, of course: “I’m not looking at anything, it’s that darned floater of mine!” You had to be there, I’m telling you, but we both had one of those near-hysteria breakdowns. We needed a good laugh!
The Pill Box
Just keep the number 7 in mind.
I have a 7-day pill organizer. As I was refilling it one Thursday, something occurred to me, “Honey, isn’t this an interesting coincidence? It seems like I’m always organizing my meds on Thursdays.” She made a “well, duh” face and walked away, shaking her head.
If necessary, let that sink in a second before leaving this paragraph. My senior moment, another knee-slapper for us.
I used to get a lot done during those long TV commercial breaks. You know, visit the bathroom, get my eyedrops, pour a glass of water, stir the pot of chili and thumb through the junk mail. If there’d be about 30 seconds left, that’s just enough time to grab a tangerine. So clever! Zip back to my chair, et voilà!
I don’t rely on commercials breaks anymore—I can pause a show anytime I need to go do something. If I don’t remember to get it all done in one dash around the house, I can irritate my spouse by pausing the show again. After returning to the TV room with a cup of coffee and my viewing glasses… oops, I need to pause the show again. “Sorry Sweetie, I’ll be right back, I should’ve refilled my pill organizer.”
She smirks. Out of the side of her mouth, “Oh, of course… it’s Thursday, isn’t it?” She's so cute.
And as one famous comic joked while speaking on the subject of aging: your memory is not in your brain, it’s in your butt. Yes, it’s activated when you sit down on it. I know this to be true. I don’t always remember why I got up from my recliner and shuffled to the other side of the house. Sometimes I’ll stand there scratching my chin, trying to picture what I was going for. Then I give up and go back to my chair. But as soon as my butt hits the cushion… yeah, bingo!