Well, it’s come– I have been reminded a lot lately that Old Age is upon me, thanks to manifestations in my own life that I swore would never come to be: these were things that happened to other people. Well, guess what? We are all in the same boat, and its name is the RMS Geritolia.
The First Sign– Everyone Else Is Younger than I Am. We got home one night to find the office floor littered with broken glass. Soon enough, a young man came to the front door apologizing mightily for having hit a foul ball and shattering our window. He was very polite– we should have had such a rare specimen bronzed– and we thanked him and told him not to worry, that it was enough that he came to apologize. (My first impulse had been to run out on the lawn hollering “you damn kids, stay out of my yard !!!” while waving my fist in the air, but that would only have succeeded in dislocating a bony shoulder.) A few minutes later, while I was placing cardboard over the broken pane, a young woman started speaking to me from beyond the gloom, offering to pay– it was his mother, who was probably twenty years younger than me. And so was the man who came to fix everything up.
The Second Sign– Night Shirts Are Extremely Comfortable. It’s true– I love to come home from work and slip into my cotton “onesie.” It’s nothing I would ever wear in front of anyone besides Kirk, because it’s the most ridiculous article of clothing I ever saw. It looks like something they would have dressed mental patients in at the turn of the century (from the nineteenth to the twentieth, that is). Still– it’s familiar and functional and has the added bonus of being bright red; should I ever become disoriented and wander outside the house while wearing my night shirt, I will be easy to spot when the police come looking for me. You see, years ago I was profoundly affected by a Nun Story that my friend Donald told me. His older brother Michael stayed in touch with the grammar school Sisters who taught him, many of them having retired to a convent out on Long Island. One evening it was discovered that one of the nuns had wandered off; they searched high and low, but couldn’t find her. That night it snowed heavily and the Sisters looked out the windows the next morning onto a world of white. Entranced, they went outside– only to discover the frozen form of the missing nun lying in the snow directly outside the window they had all stood at while watching the storm the night before! You see, her white habit prevented her from being easily spotted.
The Third Sign– Forgetting to Turn Off the Turn Signal. The other day I was heading to work on Colonial Drive, loudly blasting a new CD I had finally located online. It features 26 tracks by a group called The Sherrys, who had a mid-chart dance hit in 1963 called “Pop Pop Pop-Pie.” I can’t get enough of it, and was playing it at full volume while simultaneously moving my shoulders, rhythmically hitting the steering wheel with my left hand, and slamming the dashboard with my right hand on the back beat. Many minutes later, when that and a few following songs ended, I went to remove the CD and realized that my left turn signal had been on for probably nine minutes. Now, I know for a fact that I have been enraged in traffic by seniors who drive for hours in interstate traffic with their signals flashing maddeningly at me, so I wonder what the people in the cars behind me were thinking? Besides looking as if I were experiencing a terrifying neural episode, thanks to The Sherrys, my nagging turn signal probably ruined their days; for that, I truly apologize.
The Fourth Sign– Buying A Whistling Teapot.Because I had a habit of forgetting that I had started a pot of water to boil for coffee, we invested in a whistling teapot– no longer would I ruin pots and pans; the rangetop was beginning to look like an unkempt Pennsylvania smelting facility. This whistling teapot promised to alert me when my water was boiled, but of course nothing is perfect, right? The idea is revolutionary– whoever thought of it should have received a prize– but you have to be able to hear it, which I can’t if my hearing devices are not in. And I am back to square one– not only has my home-based smelting operation been reborn, bringing no end of prosperity to all the miners and their families, but the unheeded blasts of steam have succeeded in removing all the wallpaper in the kitchen.
Those are the only signs I can remember, but I’m sure there will be more: I’m starting to consciously think of going on a cruise, for example, because the thought of sitting around eating and drinking seventeen times a day is very attractive. And that brings me right up the gangplank of the RMS Geritolia, doesn’t it?