The Septuagenarian

Or, Some Thoughts on Life on My Way to the Final Checkout Line

Volume 1: Issue 1

So, here I am wondering just what the fuck is going on. It’s like hitting black ice when you are going sixty and suddenly everything is spinning around and you have no control over anything. As the world spins your brain slows down and for a while the sensation is pleasant. Not because you know at some point there is going to be a crash and you calculate your odds of walking away from the wreck that is your life in old age, but that after years of being driven to get to your destination, you can see the scenery as it goes round and round.

Okay, enough for the metaphors, but really suddenly the things that once seemed so important have been replaced by the satisfaction of taking an afternoon nap, or maybe getting a senior discount at Waffle House. 

I do the Times’ crossword every day. I have been since God knows when, but now the perverse bastards who make them up are using clues based on hip hop “artists” and TV shows marketed to sub-millennials. Who cares about that crap? The other day some rapper died from a drug overdose and the media acted like his passing was the end of an era. Well, for him it was, but the fact that his jet was packed with illicit drugs seems to me the meaning of his existence. In a world where celebrity is prized more than intelligence and honesty why should we expect anything else?

I have reached the wrong demographic. Except for the panoply of drugs which parade across the pages of the magazines we receive and show us the life changing effects they bring to the people whose mini life stories appear during the nightly news, we who have reached seventy-plus are now spectators. Yeah, yean Now Boomer may seem so cute to people who would be lost without their cellphones, but we are still sitting on a huge pool of wealth and we’re not eager to share.

A couple of months ago we got back from a 26-day cruise from Romania to Holland. It cost more than my car and I don’t care. I figure to run out the clock and would like to draw my last breath as my last nickel clinks from my pocket. We’re going again next year. This time to the Baltic and the year after that to the Aegean. Like I said, let’s run out the clock while we can. 

On the cruise we met a lot of people with the same outlook. A bunch were Vietnam vets, like me and after sharing a few war stories, you know, “there I was at fifty-thousand feet. Migs to the left of me, SAMs to the right,” etc. we all wanted to thumb our noses at old age. We aren’t really old you know. That is for the eighty-plussers, I think. 

I play golf with a bunch of geezers. In fact, I am one of the younger ones. We all have problems. Body replacements of knees and hips, stents and by-passes – “million dollar” men in the flesh. That is for those of us who don’t have melanoma to boot.

When we were cruising up the Danube in September, I met a fellow on the boat. Stan Ronzoletti was bent on traveling until he couldn’t climb a ship gangway any longer. Like most men our age, Stan had spent his working life looking out on the world from the windows of his office tower. Business trips whisked him in and out of world capitals, but he spent more time going between airports and hotels than actually seeing the places he had be sent to. Lounging on the sun deck and sipping local wines as the boat meandered upstream was something he could never have imagined. Days drifted into days and nothing was more important that what the chef might concoct for dessert.

Stan was avid in his appreciation of the trip. He could be found each morning in the dim hour before dawn sipping his coffee in the ship’s forward lounge. Watching the light from the east paint the river’s western shore with fresh colors gave him a sense of satisfaction that maybe, despite all the mayhem in the world, God continued to work miracles.

Now Stan was no Pollyanna staring wide-eyed at the world. He can be cynical and downright acerbic in the right situation, but as an armchair philosopher, he could run rings around the dimmest MAGA hatter, of which we had a few on board. Like me, he has a sense that things are just getting crazier and crazier. 

Christmas is just around the corner and we will be spending it at home. Not a bad idea at all. I am betting on hearing from 80% of my children. This is the best I can hope for as my oldest seems to have exorcised me from her life (again). As for the other side of our family, I am persona non grata in some circles as well do to the fact that I continue to respirate, but who’s perfect anyway? 

In the next installment of my rant, I will be relating some of Stan’s more insightful perspectives on our world and where things are going. In the meantime, remember a little THC might be better than a lot of TLC.