Today, May 3rd, is my birthday and some of you have been kind enough to note that and send me good wishes.
Thanks, I appreciate that.
A friend just called and wanted to know if I feel any different now and I said yes, I’m way more mature this morning than I was when I went to sleep last night; which is actually kinda true, but didn’t take place overnight.
I haven’t gotten any better at being better, but I am getting better at being me.
What Life has taught me so far
Now that I’ve reached the age technically known in the medical community as “one foot in the grave and one on a roller skate” I have learned a few lessons.
Lesson number one is there’s this person you want to be and there’s the person you actually are and the sooner you get around to accepting person number two, the sooner you’ll be able to relax and get the most out of what life has to offer.
Some wise man once said: “Stress occurs when the mind resists what is.”
Which sounds deep and profound and might have actually been on a fortune cookie, but doesn’t make it any less true…also my lucky number is 8.
Accepting what is doesn’t mean you get to keep being an asshole or serial killer and should never try to change, but it does mean those things are in your DNA and you have to accept that’s part of who you are.
But you still might want to keep the acts of assholery down to a minimum and try to limit yourself to the occasional murder of someone who richly deserves it. Telemarketers that call at dinner time and certain religious evangelists come to mind, but you can probably make a list of your own.
So sure, keep trying to be a better person, but give yourself a break when you fail. Here’s a quote from a book by a newly discovered, now-favorite author of mine, Joe R. Lansdale:
“If you ain’t willin’ to screw up, you ain’t ever gonna get any of the good out of life either. But thing is, even though you fuck up more than most, everyone fucks up. Only difference with you is you think your fuckups matter more than anyone else’s.”
“For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God or told a really tasteless joke at happy hour.” I mean how can you argue? It’s right there in the Bible.
So try to keep the fuckups to a minimum, but realize they’re still going to happen; they’re the price of being alive.
But when you do fuckup – and this is crucial – admit it.
Some really great advice
When you fuck up – and you will – you want to admit it as quickly as possible. Denying that you ran over your neighbor’s dog when he’s still lodged in your wheel well is an additional fuckup with will be added to your original tab.
So just get it over with; admit you fucked up and yes, Poopsy is now flatter than a waffle and has similar tread marks. That way you won’t also get tagged with a “lying weasel” label.
“Yup, I did that” ends a lot of arguments.
Now here’s a really great piece of advice that should only be attempted by a trained professional: whatever you get accused of doing, immediately admit to something worse.
But this can be tricky: “Why, yes officer, it does appear my tail light is out of order” should not be followed by, “But thank God you didn’t discover the body in my trunk.”
That admission will make the tail light violation seem minor, but might cause you a whole new set of problems.
So right now, sit down and make a list of shit you’d be willing to admit to and keep it handy. “Is that your third drink?” can be followed by, “Yes, I might have a drinking problem.” With any luck you can keep sipping that third drink while your larger problem is being discussed.
You might even get away with a fourth one. Remember; you have a problem.
Use your age as a weapon
If people are going to make fun of your age, turn it in your favor.
You didn’t remember you already had three drinks so how can you be blamed for having another? You didn’t remember you already had one piece of pie, so it’s really not your fault for doubling down. You didn’t remember you were married, so of course you forgot your anniversary.
If life gives you lemons, make lemonade or claim you don’t remember how and get somebody else to make it for you.
Do the same with your physical ailments.
“I’d love to mow the lawn, but my back is acting up.” Get people to do shit for you: “My knee is killing me, could you hand me the remote?” can be followed by, “My hip is acting up, could you bring me another beer?”
And of course you deserve another beer because you forgot you already had four.
(To be honest, I can’t believe I haven’t been offered a position with the AARP; this advice is solid gold.)
I’ve told my musician son Paul that when he was a kid I wiped his ass and at some point I expect him to do the same for me. Paul is now one highly-motivated individual; he says he needs to make enough money so when the time comes, he can hire someone else to wipe my ass because he ain’t doing it.
And that brings us to retirement homes.
Go back to school
I didn’t go to college long enough to be considered a drop-out, so I’ve got all my eligibility left and when the times comes I’ve always thought I’d skip a retirement home and go back to college.
Colleges have something going on all the time – sports, music, drinking – and I wouldn’t mind being the old guy who attends all these events and supplies “in-my-day” complaints. If the college is shitty enough maybe I could make one of the sports teams and then sue them when I blow out a hip running a button-hook pass pattern.
But that was before I learned that retirement homes often have STD problems. They tell the elderly to “keep” busy and apparently they’re doing that by “getting” busy.
So college/retirement home, either one sounds OK.
As one of the characters in “Raising Arizona” said of an attempted bank robbery and the possibility of going to prison, “Either way we’re set for life.”
One last thing to remember
I do believe we’re like sharks and need to keep moving forward to survive. Stay interested, keep finding things that spin your wheels and spin them. You might get old, but you don’t have to act old.
And remember what my mother said when she was asked, “Who really wants to live to be 100?”
“A 99-year old.”
Keep on keeping on.