Learning through Laughter

Bob Owen, Humorist

If you haven’t heard the poem by Jenny Joseph that starts “when I am an old woman and wear purple,” where have you been?  When I was young, I thought it was cute.  Now that I’m… “not young,” I think it’s downright inspiring.  It doesn’t matter your gender, the point is clear.  Growing old(er) has its benefits.  You can act up a bit, and while it won’t go unnoticed, some will excuse you because you’re “a bit strange.”

You can get by with “stuff” that would not have been accepted years before. Stuff like saying the wrong thing at the right time.  Or not listening.  I’ll give you an example.  I don’t know how many times I’ll be talking to my wife (saying really really important stuff that I think she should be writing down verbatim), and she doesn’t respond.  So I repeat it.  Several times.  I finally rush across the room to make eye contact, and her reply?  “I couldn’t hear you.  I must be going deaf.”  Don’t believe that for a minute!  When she  puts on an old pair of slacks in the morning and asks me if they’re “a bit too tight”, I could walk downstairs, through the kitchen, past the den, into the garage, out the door and into the back corner of the garden, and she would hear me whisper, “Maybe just a little.”

On the other hand, I certainly am not above using “age” as a weapon in my favor any time, anywhere.

The fact is, we “seasoned” people, can get by with doing off the wall things that would not have been tolerated when we were young.  Our mental capacity is going to be in question anyway, so, as a marketing guy, I say, “exploit it!”  When my family expects me to do something out of the ordinary, I would hate to disappoint them.  After all, my Dad told me never to be ordinary.

I say all this proudly, as if I don’t care about reactions to my old-man-behavior.  Mostly, I don’t.  But, still the truth hurts, for a minute or two.   

One of our sons and a friend were at our house one afternoon. After an hour or so of conversation and stories, I heard the friend tell my son, “I can’t believe how young your Dad looks.  He doesn’t seem old enough to be your father.”  My chest puffed out and my head began to press against the 9-foot high ceiling.

Then my offspring added, “Yea, he does look young.  Crazy people don’t age.”

I confronted him.  “Name two things I’ve done that are crazy.”

“Only two?  That’s easy.”

“OK then,” I interrupted.  “Name 400.”

“That will take longer,” he laughed.  “But I can do it.”

I told him, “If I had a will, I would take you out of it.”  I turned and stomped away, opening the door and slamming it behind me.

My son shouted, “I rest my case,” all the time laughing hysterically.

I had stomped my way into the coat closet.

Not being defeated, I took action.  I reached into the hatbox on the top shelf, put on my wife’s bright yellow fuzzy ski hat along with my red vest and walked out of the closet, past my son and his friend, without saying a word.

One must keep up appearances.

Date of Blog Story: 
February 27, 2008

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