Old Fart in Springtime

Fred ZiffelI could claim it’s doctor’s orders, or that I made a pact with myself to lay off literary endeavors for a month, or that I’ve been too busy with domestic duties to write, or any other number of lies, but in fact what has happened is that a month has gone by and I have not written much at all. But I have been thinking, in my own shallow way, and I hereby resume with my observations, this one about how old age creeps up on you unawares.

I’ve come to the inescapable conclusion that when I’m old I will probably end up as one of those cowboyish old guys, all gangly and gravelly voiced, wandering around saying “howdy” and nodding his index finger to you as you pass. I’ll wear a preponderance of plaid and shoe myself in regulation white mall walkers.

Spring arrived, and then it didn’t quite pan out, as so often happens in this neck of the woods. So I’ve been doing odd jobs and wearing that old plaid shirt-jacket around, the kind you wear between winter and spring, because the seasons mix for so long. It’s lined with something like kapok, and lumpy as an old life jacket. I’ve been engaged in such archetypal equinoctial old guy activities as fixing the bird feeder, which had fallen victim to the depredation of hordes of marauding squirrels. On my head I wore my old kelly green mesh baseball cap, broad as the brow of Moby Dick himself, and tacky to boot. The sunglasses I wore seemed chic when I bought them, reminiscent, I suppose, of that Peter Fonda Easy Rider era but in fact strangely like one of those geezers from Vernon, Florida, which is to say shopworn and overdone, reminding me now of an old guy who has just been let out of the hospital on a sunny day and must wear the wraparounds to cope with his eye condition.

And so, arriving this way at the top of the stairs, having come in for a moment from outside, (to pee, probably – I can’t remember) I am surprised with my reflection in the mirror. “Who is this old fart?” I ask myself, and see that it is me, is always me, with the silly hat, the big sunglasses, the lumpy plaid jacket and the enormous expanse of upper lip and jowl extending downward like Boris Badenov himself. Or is it Fred Ziffel that I resemble, and visions of domestic vicissitudes – men holding toilet plungers, that sort of thing? How did I end up looking this way, and how do I get out of it before the routine persists and hardens into habit, driving out the dashing dude who lives inside?

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