You know you’re a geezer...

Thu, 02/21/2019 - 9:15pm

You know you’re a geezer when you realize that the benchmarks and milestones that make it clear you’re going at a different speed happen more frequently.

For example, I heard of a guy who had his kids at age 60. One day he was asking where the diapers were in the supermarket and the clerk directed him to where there was a well-stocked aisle of, ahem, Depends. Speaking of supermarkets, once I was checking out some items, and the cashier asked me with a cheery mien and benevolent tone if I was a senior citizen. I was stunned — mortified that someone would actually have the temerity to ask me, if I was a senior citizen — in a public place! I walked out of the store mumbling to myself about how some people just have no boundaries for their rudeness. Adding insult to this injury, during this mumble-in-progress, it became apparent to me that I forgot where I’d parked my truck. The mumbling stopped but the carriage wheels continued rumbling until I finally spotted my ride.

A guy I went to college with loves old sports cars. One sunny summer day we took a spin around Newport’s scenic Ocean Drive in his 1960 MG convertible. As we cruised Thames Street, Ocean Drive, and Bellevue Avenue, I noticed lots of people checking us out in this cool and sporting antique car. It was mostly a variety of beautiful women — alone and in groups — who were giving us the eye. And we flirted right back with a suave and casual ‘tude because that’s how we felt — dudes with ‘tudes. I asked my friend what was with all of the ladies smiling at a couple of shanty Irish geezers-in-training.

“It’s the car; I get it all of the time,” he said. We were waving and smiling and winking ourselves silly in this MG driven flirt fest. Then, we dropped off his MG and hopped in my beat-up pickup truck to go to my sailboat; the flirting stopped and we went back to being invisible older guys. (I know, you figured this out already.) Furthermore, if we’d been waving, and winking, and smiling at the aforementioned women — while driving in my truck we’d probably have complaints lodged against us with the local police. Or, said women would think to themselves or maybe say aloud, “Look at two old weirdos, are they winking and waving at us? What’s their deal, they’re nuts — write down that plate number!” 

One day at the ferry docks, I walked up to ask Matty Rooney a question, “Matty, who was that guy who worked here back when?” Right then the freight boss, Matt Potter, said, “Joey, why are you yelling at Matty?” “I’m not yelling,” I said. “I’m just asking him a question.” Matt said, “When you’re checking in a car, we can hear you all the way up in the freight shed.” I paused, and said, “Oh, no, I’m going deaf. How can this be?” Immediately, I went right in to low talker mode with the guys, and to very low talker mode with people checking in their cars. Naturally, Rooney and Potter started with, “Houlihan, send the trucks!” Or, “Joey, you want a coffee?” Of late, my bride had been saying things to me in a very loud voice. “Did you feed Sailor and Tuppence?” “What’s the weather forecast for tomorrow?” “Supper’s ready!” “You’re going deaf. Get your ears checked!” A sailing friend of mine recently got a new hearing aid, and he was giving me the low-down on how good it worked. Steve and I usually talk about books, sailboats, and bad knees; I finally capitulated and got my ears cleaned — Bingo! I can hear again!

Back in the day, I used to run cross country, play baseball, basketball, swim, surf, snowboard, ski, and go for long bicycle rides. Moreover, in those sweet days of youth, I could easily crawl under my beat-up cars — screwdriver gripped between my teeth — to rig up a busted muffler with a coat hanger, a piece of sheet metal and baling wire. I could shinny up the mast of my sailboat to un-jam halyards, or dive underneath my boat with a mask and a grunge pad to clean the bottom. I never thought about doing any activity; I just did it. Well, those days are gone. Now, every move is calculated, steps are measured, and the idea of crawling on the ground for any reason is completely out of the question.

Finally, I was rowing my pram to a dock on Prudence Island this past fall. I usually just run my rowboat up on the beach, but I figured I’d tie up to the dock; there were only two sailboats in the cove. As I drifted up to the dock, I cleated the line and proceeded to get out of the boat — which is very unstable and skitterish. Somehow, I scootched my stiff geezer frame onto said dock, and I had to roll over, and then slowly — on all fours — manage to get myself upright to go for my island hike. All I could think of was someone was making a film of the old dude and would post this horror show on YouTube.

‘Nuff said.