Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Content With a Latte and Occasional Oldie

  I can remember hiking with my dad. He was probably close to the age I am right now. We would be steadily working our way up the side of some mountain in Oregon and periodically I would realize I no longer heard him trudging along behind me. Looking back down the trail, there he’d be stopped, pretending to be interested in some unknown specimen of flora. I knew he had no interest in plants whatsoever. If I said anything like, “Are you resting again?” He would reply, with a voice handicapped by gasps for breath. “You’ll get old some day.” Lately I’ve been inundated with mail and phone calls from insurance brokers and HMO representatives trying to convince me that they have the information I need to help me decide what to do about my Medicare Part B, Each one assures me that they have my best interest at heart. I’m turning 65 in a few months and I’d like to get my hands on the person who let all these capitalist scavengers know about it. The truth is, I have absolutely no idea what to do about Medicare B, but I don’t tell them that. It’s all very confusing and when I start reading the material sent to me by them or the government, the words quickly turn into blah, blah, blah, blah. I was at the barber a few years ago having my hair cut. It was going along fine until he lifted up the few thin strands of hair on the top of my head and asked, “What do you want me to do with these stringers?” He must have been from the south, because he pronounced stringers, “strangers” rhyming with “hangers”. There is a time when one is going bald where you can fool yourself into thinking that you have more hair on top of your head than you actually do. This delusion is perpetuated by only looking at yourself in the mirror straight on. From this angle, there appears to be somewhat of a lush growth of hair on top. The truth reveals itself if you use an additional mirror and view your reflection from any other angle. I nurtured this delusion for years. Recently I told the 14 year old beautician at Super Cuts to just cut the “strangers” off. She did it immediately and without comment. In an instant my delusion evaporated and I turned into a bald guy. When I got home, Katie, my wife hardly noticed the change. When I pointed it out, she said I looked fine and there really wasn’t that much of a difference. My delusion ran deep. And to think I’ve been less than kind in my thoughts all these years toward men who sported comb-overs. And now I embarrassingly realize that I was guilty of a version of this desperate attempt to remain young and attractive. I am writing this blog in a coffee shop in Boulder, Colorado. The young college students all around me are working on their computers, most avoid eye contact with me, but every once in a while, one of them catches my eye and smiles. It doesn’t seem that long ago when I was a young college student like them. I know none of them have the same perspective that I do. What’s that saying, “youth is wasted on the young”? In the blink of an eye they will be where I am now. My dad realized it and tried to tell me, but like these young people around me, I didn’t get it at the time. I really have no interest in going back in time, but I don’t want to go forward either. This coffee shop’s name is The Laughing Pig. They make a hell of a good latte. The attractive young barista instantly created an intricate design on the top of the foam. It was a fern leaf that wrapped around the inner edge of the cup. When she handed it to me, she gave me a warm smile. I don’t recognize and don’t like most of the music that’s played on their sound system, but they just played an early Leonard Cohen song that I hadn’t heard for a long time. I’m tuning the music out for now and waiting for the next oldie. I guess I will continue my practice of being content with where I am right now, even if I am an aging bald guy.