The stages of Geezer-hood
I just finished my 68th trip around the sun, and I’m barreling on the quick step toward the next one.
There is no denying that life goes by very fast as we get on in years—it’s non-negotiable. Moreover, we pay more attention as to how we want to spend our time — we can’t flinch — so we need to go big or go home. Me and my wife are geezing together into our respective futures and, thus far, are very lucky to have our health so we can do the things that we love to do. The bride loves the traveling thing, and I sail my boat aimlessly in big triangles in Narragansett Bay. Both of these activities keep us moving — which for geezers is of extreme importance. At this stage of the game, movement should be a major priority — any doctor will tell you this. Couches, combined with cable television, are prodigious adversaries.
After age 50, we need to nod to certain realities of geezer-hood. These nods will usually be toward our physical health. When we first enter the GIT, or Geezer In Training, stage, we will note our inevitable physical limitations. On the day I hit 50, I rode my bicycle from Bristol to Providence on the East Bay bike path. I tore around the East Side, flew down College Hill, and cruised by some old haunts downtown. Then, I grabbed two slices of pizza at Fellini’s on Wickenden Street and pedaled back to Bristol. It was a 40-mile bike ride, and everything was great until I got off my bike and tried to walk. My leg muscles were so tired that I almost fell down when I got off my beat up specialized ride. Conversely, when I hit 60, I rode my bicycle a slow and steady 10 miles around the coastal drive of Newport. Ahem, note well the disparity in mileage. Age 50 is a major turning point, and is the requisite number needed before we move to the next stage — 50 is a biggie.
As we leave the GIT stage, we slowly segue in to the Full On Geezer — or FOG — realm of geezer-hood. This is the period in our lives when the cool ship has left the dock and sailed — whether we want to be on the boat or not — and we’re just happy that we can hop in the ring to fight another day. The FOG stage is full of surprises: forgetfulness, repetitive observations, dense and vacuous observations, and random mumblings — to oneself. Yup, FOGs talk to themselves. It can be amusing when we hear a FOG pontificating to oneself about myriad topics: the weather, bad television, good television, politics, ill-fitting clothing, head colds, headaches, aching backs, dogs, cats, flowers, mulch, rain, snow, icy roads and night driving.
The FOG stage is when geezers seek out Early Bird Specials in local establishments, and find that said specials get earlier — and earlier. Most importantly, FOGs really don’t care about the time — they find it the earlier the better — because the restaurants are usually empty. Furthermore, waiting to be seated in a restaurant can be tedious for FOGs who are on a mission to simply eat something and look at each other and talk. Just for the record, this geezer refuses to wait in lines — for any reason whatsoever. If there is a line then that clambake gets blown — stat. FOGs have boundaries —which they will not cross.
After a couple of decades rocking and rolling through the stages of GIT and FOG, we finally arrive at the ETG stage — which is the best stage.
ETG stands for Embrace The Geezer. This is where we wear our inner and outer wackiness like a badge of honor. Most importantly, it’s the easiest stage because we just don’t care what people think. For example, my wife rides a tricycle she scored from Benny’s just before the place was dispatched to the ether. And I continue to ride my careworn, beater of a Specialized bike, which I keep in the back of my truck and use in the Stand-by Lot at the ferry in the summertime. Neither of these are in the cool category, both rigs are functional and we actually use them. When I was approaching ETG status, I had an experience where I knew I was entering this brave new stage of geezer-hood. I had to go down to Home Depot in Westerly to get some paint for the freight guys because we were doing some trim work at the docks. My knee was bothering me. So, with a cocky, Travolta-like and hobbling gait, I grabbed one of those scooters that they have for geezers and went tearing around the store grabbing the stuff I needed. I was out of there in record-breaking time. I didn’t blink an eye at grabbing the scooter; that’s what happens when you hit the ETG stage — it’s a seamless transition. Most importantly we just don’t care.
Okay, there are some tragically hip cats out there that have excelled at embracing their geezer-hood. Mick Jagger comes to mind. This guy and his posse still rock, roll, and rage into that good night. These motley characters must be commended; they love music and will not stop playing. Good on them and this attitude is a lesson for all of us. Springsteen, Stevie Van Zandt, Dylan, Willie Nelson, et al, are all still out there throwing down and touring. The aforementioned have created the new paradigm for embracing geezer-hood. We could almost say that these guys are cool; however, in my view they’re just FOGs embracing their geezer-hood deal. Furthermore, cool is simply a subjective state of mind — it’s all relative. Finally, it is perfectly okay to have some lines that we will not cross when we hit the ETG stage, and for me it will be velcro slip-on sneakers — this geezer ain’t treading down that road.