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Whittling Away: The passing years

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By Dick Brooks

For Capital Region Independent Media

Headshot of a man named Dick Brooks.

It’s funny how life reverses itself — the younger you are, the older you want to be. 

I can remember distinctly being five and a half, I can’t remember when I stopped adding the halves. The really young and the really old proclaim their ages to the world at the top of their lungs. The little ones will tell complete strangers their age with no prompting, the really old ones have their pictures on a Smucker’s jar on the Today Show. 

There is a lengthy span of time in between those ages where age tends to become something you’d rather not talk about.

Age is a relative thing. You have a physical age and a mental age to deal with. My mental age, according to The Queen of our house who knows about such things, is somewhere in the neighborhood of 12 years old. I don’t disagree or dispute her figuring; in fact, it explains several of the problems I have to deal with daily. 

A 12-year-old brain in an 80-something body leads one to attempt things that your mind thinks might be fun but which your body will pay a heavy price for several days. This situation leads to an almost constant clash between brain and body.

Brain keeps teasing. He pokes good-natured fun at Old Body. The other day, he was commenting on the noises that seem to be on the increase. 

Getting into and out of a comfortable chair used to be a relatively silent activity — not anymore. Now the process involves a series of grunts and groans that remind one of the chorus of The Volga Boatman or some other minor classic. 

Movement of any sort usually involves some kind of creaking or cracking of cartilage until I get fully underway and all the parts and pieces settle into their customary places.  Brain sometimes attempts to sing along, usually unsuccessfully.

Most of the time there is no conflict between these two, they agree on a lot of things that come up. They have both agreed to stop using the greeting, “How are you?” It seems that most of our friends are now hypochondriacs and those who used to simply answer “fine” now can bend your ear for a considerable length of time and end the conversation with a list of new doctors to try.

They no longer worry about how long a new roof will last or when the treated lumber they made the new porch steps out of will have to be replaced since their warranties most likely are longer than our own expiration date. 

They get comfort in the fact that they know most of the words to the elevator music they hear and sometimes even sing along right out loud when they are put on hold and forced to listen to such music. It’s nice to know that most of your body parts that are still functioning get along together well.

Yup! Another birthday’s coming in the fall. I had hoped there would be a movement to make the day a national holiday but that didn’t seem to happen this year, maybe next year. 

The historic marker I’d hoped for hasn’t appeared on the lawn yet either. Might even hear from the kids although fathers’ birthdays are lower on the priority list that those of mothers. 

The Queen is sure to have something. I don’t think it will involve a pony or even a hamster, but I know it will be pleasant. 

Birthdays aren’t as exciting as when I was young but I plan on having them for as long as I can. They are pleasant and there’s always the chance for cake.

Thought for the week — Computers can never replace human stupidity.

Until next week, may you and yours be happy and well.

Reach columnist Dick Brooks at Whittle12124@yahoo.com.

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