Thursday, August 30, 2018

Growing Old: Three Strategies


Imaginary Friend

            For a period in my life one of my goals was to become an imaginary friend. This appeared to be easier than other goals available to me, goals such as “success,” “popularity” or “happiness.” I am not sure if I achieved my goal, though addressing my weekly blog notification to “Friends” may be a positive indication. My readers and I are imaginary friends.

            Kim and I have taken it a step further. We have invited an imaginary friend to come live with us. I’m not sure Kim was aware of this until now.

            This idea first occurred to me shortly after we were married. My stepson, Scott, had just graduated from college and for a short time lived with us while he got his career underway. It was good having Scott around because he’s a good guy, he helped with home maintenance, and I could blame him for stuff. Who left dirty dishes on the table? Must have been Scott. Who left the back door unlocked? Lights on in the garage? Scott. As I said, he’s a good guy.

            Now that Scott is off leading his own life, I have had to rely on an imaginary friend to fill Scott’s role. Who put the can opener in the scissor drawer? Who left pretzel crumbs on the couch? Who opened the window with the air conditioner running? Not me, certainly!

            But I have to be careful. In an amusing movie called “Multiplicity,” Michael Keaton’s character is overwhelmed by all of his responsibilities – his job, his son, his wife, his parents. So he gets himself duplicated, so he can be in two places at once. Everyone is happy, except when he realizes that his duplicate is sleeping with his wife, and she seems very satisfied. See the movie. And be careful your imaginary friend is not better at being you than you are. But maybe that’s not such a bad thing . . .. A gift arrives at the door that I don’t remember ordering for Kim?



            We were having breakfast with Scott and his daughters a few weeks ago, and he described plans to take them to a luge run at a nearby ski resort. Kim asked him if he were going to take the wheeled sled down the track.

            “Sure! I still like to get the adrenaline pumping.”

            “So do I,” I said, “but I do it by going to my mailbox.”

            Scott was quick to catch on: “Coupons! Coupons!”

            The conversation led me to speculate on how I, as an old guy, get my adrenaline pumping. It’s not by riding a luge down a cement track.

·     Getting up in the morning. When you are in your 70s, every dawn feels like a winning lottery ticket.
·     Sex. Yes, it still happens. Anxiety may contribute to the adrenaline, but love, kisses, and a bit of alcohol are the main drivers.
·     Moving rocks – an achievement Kim describes as “getting your rocks off.”
·     Parallel parking. Kids these days can’t do it.
·     Getting something on my computer to work. And I take full credit when my repair consists of turning it off for a while.
·     Finding a quarter in a parking lot. I did once find $200 in a parking lot, and that was even better.
·     Seeing a bird that we had not seen before. Sometimes this is short-lived, because I discover that we have already seen the bird, and Kim has photos to prove it.
·     Candlelight dinner with Kim. This will have to resume in the winter, because in the summer Up North we may find ourselves going to sleep while it is still light.



            I remember hearing an interview with an old guy, I think he was French, who was asked about his secret for his health in old age. His answer: “Poor memory.” He went on to explain that he has managed to forget all the people who offended him in the past, so he’s living a relatively untroubled life. Kim and I are doing pretty well with our forgetting.

            By the way, my son Phillip came up with a good strategy to use when you have forgotten a word in mid-sentence. Simply ask, “How do you say this in English?” That way you get credit for being bilingual, which is better than being, um, how do you say this in English?


  1. You're almost there, Dave. To duplicate yourself successfully you need to get off the poetry and write novels. I fuck up ten times more than you do but the wife realizes that I spend all my time in other places, wondering what my characters are up to. She's well aware that my characters are very real to me and that some of them are quite naughty.