Thursday, July 26, 2018

Small Changes

Small Changes

            Kim and I are going through a lot of changes. Aside from physical decline associated with aging, we are once again going to move – perhaps by September. And we are also experiencing, through the medium of the news, difficult changes under President Trump. But smaller changes can also have a significant impact on our lives. Here are three examples:


            “Where did you put my dad’s fishing knife?”
            “I gave it back to you.”
            “No, you didn’t.”
            “I’m pretty sure I did. I remember handing it to you.”
            “Where were we?”
            “Right next to the garage. I needed help opening something.”
            “Opening what?”
            “I don’t remember. Maybe a box.”
            “Then where did you put it?
            “I gave it back to you. I know you wouldn’t trust me with your dad’s knife. I remember saying how sharp it was.”
            “So, where did you put it?”
            “Check your purse.”
            “Not there. But I don’t think I had my purse with me yesterday. Or was it the day before yesterday?”
            “I’ll check in the glove compartment. Maybe that’s where you put it. After I handed it to you.”
            “If you find it, you can shove it up your ass.” (Kim didn’t actually say this, but she may have been thinking it.)

            This is the kind of conversation old couples have. Declining memory, or what I like to see as Photoshopped memory, comes with the territory. After having too many of these conversations in the last month or so, Kim and I decided not to have them anymore. Just find the damn knife. I think this was Kim’s idea. Maybe not.


            When my good friend Peter visited a few weeks ago, I noticed that he was not carrying a wallet. He had his various cards wrapped in a fancy rubber band, and his bills were in a money clip. I expressed some admiration for his system, and a week later I received in the mail my own fancy rubber band, complete with a small plaque with my initials engraved. It was time to ditch my wallet.

            I’ve been operating the last few years with a 3-pat check system when I walked out the door: left-front pocket for cell phone, right-front for keys, right-rear for wallet. (I reserved left-rear for miscellaneous items – lens cap, store coupons, Kim’s change, etc.) Three quick pats and it was safe to leave. The system had its drawbacks, both tied to the wallet: Sitting on the wallet in the car gave me an occasional sore back, and an outline of my wallet began to fade into all my dark pants. It was time for a change.

            The first step was to get a money clip. We looked in the gift shops downstairs and saw that the offerings were ugly and cost about $60, which meant the clip would be worth more than the cash they were clipping. I remembered that my dad had a clip shaped like a dollar sign – it was the token my mom carried after Dad died. So, I decided to get one like Dad’s. His was no doubt silver. Mine was stainless steel - $8 on Amazon.

            My new system has its difficulties, some associated with my gradual learning curve. Leaving back pockets empty meant I had three items (keys, cards, clipped bills) in my right front because I did not want to interfere with quick-drawing my cell phone to check for whatever stupid stuff I check for. So I had to learn to do a finger search in my right front pocket, trying not to look like I was entertaining myself.

            Another problem was with the money clip itself. After using it for a week, I pulled it out at the health food store and fumbled with the randomly jammed-in bills, dropping some onto the conveyer belt. I told the clerk I was just getting used to it. He suggested that I practice making change with my wife. Kim did something better, instructing me on the best way to fold my bills into the clip. (As it turns out, jamming them in forcefully is not the best approach.) Sometimes, I confess, that I just push everything into my pocket to sort out later. Another option is to forego cash altogether, thus freeing up 1/3 of my right front pocket.

            I still use the 3-pat system. It’s just that now I’m just patting myself on the right cheek, which is less enjoyable than it sounds.


            I could only think of two. I’m fond of my routines.

This from Doug Reilly:
Your 3-pat comment reminded me of one of my favourite jokes. Actually, when leaving on a foreign trip or leaving a hotel room, I always check, passport, wallet, room key, etc. The joke goes as follows:

A jumbo jet has crashed killing almost everyone. Up front there’s a Catholic priest, alive, who crosses himself in thanks. Then he sees a man way in back who stands up and crosses himself. The priest runs back and embraces the man saying, “this proves Catholicism is the true religion, the only two survivors are Catholic!”

The other man looks at the priest and says, “Vat? I vas yust checking, spectacles, testicles, vallet, cigars!”

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