I just saw apreview for an HBO specialwith Carl Reiner, Mel Brooks, Dick Van Dyke and others praising the joys of being 90 or older. I recently passed my 71st birthday and I spend a lot of time contemplating being old. But, I'm still middle-aged, of course. "Old" doesn't start until people begin shoveling dirt on top of you.
Young people eagerly contemplate becoming 5, 10, 13, 16, 18, 21 and—if they have presidential pretensions—35. The following decades don't mean much until age 65 for Medicare and 62 to 70 for Social Security. Social Security works like putting quarters into a slot machine for five decades and then—KA-CHING—coins start flowing out.
I had foolishly and eagerly thought that SocSec would buy me a second home and worldwide travel. Sadly, it's needed for such frivolities as food, medicine and taxes.
After finance, physical and mental health are the big issues for senior citizens. Lots of body parts no longer work as well or as often as they used to—or at all. Every year I add more ologists to my list of medical specialists.
I'm a wreck, physically. (Mentally, not yet so bad.) Some people deal with pain and dysfunction with increasing amounts of drugs, or acupuncture, spirituality and other conventional or exotic remedies.
So far I've been able to deal with my failing body by combining conventional medicine with disobediance, egomania and self-deprecating humor.
In my world, everything is a proper subject for laughter, and I have no secrets.
I recently told the world (at least the Facebook world), that I had peed in my pants while rushing to the men's room in a supermarket. I was amazed by the number of men and women who confessed to the same malfunction.
Someone said that "the eyes are the window to the soul." I think that T-shirts do the job quite well.
A few years ago I expected to have surgery for kidney stones. I ordered and wore a shirt that proclaimed "CAUTION! Do Not Bump. I Have A Pee-Pee Bag." It turned out that I did not need the bag, but I wore the shirt to the hospital and to other places since then. People's reactions vary. Some gasp. Some giggle. Some turn away. Some ask where they can buy the shirt.
In 2016 I had diplopia ("double-vision") for four months. I wore an eye patch to compensate by blocking one eye. I also often wore a pirate T-shirt and sometimes put a fake parrot on my shoulder. When kids asked me if I was a real pirate, of course I responded "aaaarrrggghh."
Back in the 70s I was an "award-winning Madison Avenue advertising copywriter." One of my favorite mediums (not "media" in this usage) was the T-shirt. The objective was to turn millions of human bodies into mobile billboards. To get those millions to carry our messages, each wearer of the shirt had to become partof the message, maybe part of a joke.
At that time Castrol introduced a new motor oil designed to stand up to the high temperatures of small, high-RPM car engines. I devised a slogan and shirt that proclaimed, "I Don't Stop When I Get Hot." The oil and sexy shirt were very successful and I saw some of the shirts being worn even 30 years later.
Back to health: I am able to deal with incontinence, diabetes, neuropathy, skin pre-cancer, arthritis, sleep apnea, hand pain, missing teeth, fading memory, trouble typing and other issues. (However, I did eliminate nosebleeds and outgrew migraines.)
Photos reveal that I have lost the hairs that used to sprout from my arms and legs. I can accept the loss of hairs, but what scares the shit out of me is the loss of my mind!
Is trouble thinking of a word—or typing a wrong word—no big deal?
Or is it the onset of the dementia that took my mother from near-genius to near-vegetable in a few years?
In his last year, my father simply ran out of things to do. He decided to die and he stopped wearing his eyeglasses and hearing aids. Sometimes I saw him in his bed in the nursing home, apparently asleep. Suddenly a big grin would spread across his face, and then a big stink would spread across the room.
In Love Story, we learned that "Love means never having to say you're sorry."
Maybe being 87 means you can fart or mess your pants without having to say you're sorry.