Learning through Laughter

Bob Owen, Humorist

I am 61 years old and in good health. But, of course, the definition of good health today has stretched a bit since I was in good health at the age of 20. Those 40ish years ago, when the alarm would sound in the morning, I could jump out of bed, get dressed in 5 minutes, run down the stairs, grab a cup of coffee and run off to class, or work, or whatever I was doing.  I had two speeds.  Asleep and ON.  I started in a run, stayed in a run, and didn’t slow down all day.

I look in the mirror and still think that 20 year old is in there, somewhere.  After all, I am the same person, with the same thoughts and desires and loves, and hang-ups.  I haven’t changed all that much, at the core.  But, I’m wrong.  That 20 year old is not in the mirror.  He may still be in my sons’ mirrors.  In their early and mid thirties, they can still bound out of bed in the morning and hit life at a full run.

Today, when I say I’m healthy, it has a little slower pace to it.  I still work long hours, and I’m convinced I even get more done now than 40 years ago.  But, I get it done at a more casual, relaxed, safer speed.  Today, when the alarm sounds, I probably could jump out of bed, if I wanted to (and I don’t) but I’d be in traction a month.  When my feet hit the floor, my body sends out a communique.  “Ankles, get ready.  Brace yourself.  Knees, the pain’s coming.  The old man’s not lost the weight he planned on, so support him the best you can.  Back, try to stay somewhat upright…”  You get the picture.  I still can get dressed in five minutes, if I don’t care what I look like.  Heck, I can’t even find my clothes in five minutes!  Running down the stairs?  Yeah, right.  Forget that nonsense.  And, actually, I still don’t slow down during the day.  It’s hard to slow down from slowed down.   I think the healthiest change in me is in my attitude and the fact that I don’t let life worry me in the same way.  But, that’s for another time.

 Back to my analysis.  I’m in good health physically.  However…..   I usually sleep great every night, five minutes at a time.  And, frequently when I awaken in the middle of the night, my right hand throbs with what I call nighttime arthritis.  I wake up, having tucked my body into a fetal position, with my hand in a tight fist.  As I begin to move about, the finger next to my pinky finger won’t straighten without some help.  So, I take my left hand and straighten the errant finger.  (And it appreciates that.)

It’s not a particularly serious situation.  Because, after an hour, movement returns to normal. (Yeah, I know, define normal.) For the remainder of the day, I’m mostly not bothered by arthritis.  But, this nocturnal pain and arthritis clearly signals the beginning stages of me realizing that now I’m “older than dirt.”

My brother, who is 64, also is troubled by various bouts of arthritis – hands, shoulder, elbow.  You name it.  The miracle “drug” he uses to combat this is none other than the age-old copper bracelet.  I had a hard time buying into this way of thinking.

The jury is still out in many circles, saying cooper can work, maybe, sometimes, on occasion, if you hold you tongue in the back of your throat and breathe through your left ear while whistling the Star Spangled Banner.  And others say they can prove it works.  Ah, isn’t life great!

Since, my older, wiser brother totally believes in his copper bracelet, and especially since they don’t cost much, I bought the basic starter model.  Copper.  No adornments.  About ½ inch wide.  The very second I put it on my wrist, I immediately realized something. “My gosh!  I am old.  Not aging.  But, already-there old.  I defy you to find anyone, I said ANYONE, under 50 wearing a cooper bracelet, unless they are chronically ill.  You might make that under 60.

When my Dad started wearing his copper bracelet, he was maybe 127 years old.  My father-in-law wore a copper bracelet, when he was only about 135 years old.  (I told you already, people don’t wear copper bracelets until they’re old.)  Both men swore the bracelets helped with their arthritis.  My Dad said his bracelet made a statement.  It did.  To me, it said, “this man is very very old.”   

The troublesome part of this aging process is that youthful thinking, an outgoing positive, fun-loving, laughing attitude doesn’t change the perception.  You can see someone who’s “up there” joking and laughing, and you’ll even say out loud how young they look and how energetic they are and how you want to be just like them.  But, just as soon as you spy that little glint of copper beneath the sleeve of their shirt, you think, “that man’s old.”

Now, at a mere barely-past-the-50s, I am wearing a copper bracelet.  And I have convinced myself that on occasion it works. I hate this.

We have a double problem here.  Not only do I not like wearing a copper bracelet because it makes it old, I don’t like wearing a bracelet of any kind because I’ve made it my goal in life to unmercifully tease my buddies who have worn necklaces and bracelets and other flashy (tacky) jewelry for years.  I have a friend who once owned a jewelry store.  One night he took home a beautiful, very expensive gold necklace and put in on the bedroom dresser.  His wife, in getting ready for the party they were giving, said “thank you” and put on the necklace.  He told her, “No, that’s mine. I brought it home for me.”  “No, you didn’t,” she said.  “It’ll look much better on me.”

That’s not a normal conversation, folks.  There’s enough to fight about in a marriage without wearing the same necklaces.  Come on!  Think this through.

But, enough about that.  Back to important things.  Me.   And copper bracelets.

Now that I’m wearing a copper thingy on my wrist, I have to face another problem.  My wife is a champion at accessorizing.  Wearing the correct jewelry, shoes, and the like to accent her appearance.  She doesn’t like my bracelet.  “It’s copper and your wedding ring is gold. They don’t match” My reply was, “honey, I don’t care what it looks like, my hand doesn’t hurt much of the time when I wear it.”   She just shook her stylish head.

Well, we Boomers are a creative lot.  My wife took me shopping and showed me a complete line of arthritis bracelets in a multitude of designs and styles.  All guaranteed to work.  For a much higher, more stylish price, I might add.

Recently at a party, a lady exclaimed that an onyx stone was missing from her copper bracelet, which didn’t look like it had one iota of copper it in at all.  I said, “excuse me? That’s an old woman’s bracelet?”  She said, “you betcha. Just because we have aches and pains, doesn’t mean we have to fall apart in style.”

I thought cool.  Then I thought about my handsome, stylish, really cool Dad with his unfashionable cooper bracelet.  And, I went to my drawer and pulled out the old one I first bought.  Worn, dented, kinda tarnished and ugly, and I put it on. If it was good enough for Dad, it’s good enough for me. It is nice, however, to have a “dress-up bracelet” for special occasions.

But, I hide it – just in case my wife wants to steal it for the next dinner party.  You can’t trust that woman.

Date of Blog Story: 
October 10, 2007

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