"I thought you'd be older," said the retiree. I replied, "Is that because my work looks like it's drawn by someone who's wise and mature beyond his years?"
She looked up at me. "No, your cartoons looks like they're drawn by someone who doesn't digest his food well."
Another year passing isn't easy to swallow either, sister. This week my beloved said, "You're turning 57."
She said "turning" as in milk turns sour. Fruit turns rotten. He's taken a turn for the worse. He turned this week. I'm putting him out with the recycling.
I was already grousing. Why celebrate ourselves on our birthday? On that day it was our mothers who did all the heavy lifting.
Mom told me that there already was a day set aside to honor the selfless actions of birthing moms: Labor Day. And that I should stop fussing and enjoy my birthday.
Two years into my senior discount at Goodwill it's not that easy to enjoy another candle on the cake. Taking the senior discount at Goodwill is a milestone because it means you are at the age where you don't care if people think you are a cheapskate.
When my dad turned 57, I thought he was older than Moses, and today the old man is in the mirror smiling back at me, getting the last laugh.
What spell was cast when I got my AARP mailer? When did "Harry Potter and the Midlife Demons" morph into "Old Man Potter and the Goblet of Maalox"?
These days it takes me 20 trips just to start one trip to the store.
I can't seem to leave my house. Everybody in the car, gang! I grab my keys. I jump in the car. Nature calls. Sorry. Back inside for a pit stop. I set out again. I have to turn around - forgot my meds. And a bottle of water. Got 'em. All set. Buckle up! Nuts! Where is my cellphone? Back inside. I call myself on the land line because I can't remember where I put my cellphone. Got it. Hey! Anybody seen my reading glasses? "On your forehead, Dad." Oh, yeah, there they are. Thanks. Let's go. Everybody back in the car. Key's in the ignition.
Where's my #@! hat? "I'll get it for you, Dad. Give me the house key." Thanks. Buckle up. We're all set. I slap my forehead. The shopping list. It's on my bureau. I'll get it. Got it.
The engine is on and the air conditioner is blowing. I shift into drive. Did I lock the front door? One more thing: Where were we going? I can't remember.
Sighs of exasperation in the back seat. "Dad, how will we be able to tell when you get Alzheimer's?" I don't know, kid, I don't know. What was your name again?
When we hit estate sales my wife and I see it: the decline of the Lord of the Manor. First comes the recliner in the living room, priced for a quick sale.
In the den there's the cob-webbed stationary bike and the dusty Richard Simmons tapes. Nice try at stalling the inevitable, Jack LaLane.
We walk past the orphaned possessions and see where this story is going: The walker. And in the bedroom there's the final chapter: the plastic potty on wheels.
The Grim Reaper elbows me and jibes, "That would make an interesting planter." I laugh politely. I buy his scythe for $37.50. It's a great estate sale.
I'm standing in front of the bathroom mirror admiring my scythe when my wife walks in. She corners me, grabs the scissors and sizes up my Andy Rooneys. I'm no match for Edward Scissorhands who snips away at my eyebrows like topiary.
The young cooing lovebirds have become a pair of silver-backed gorillas grooming each other. After 20 escape attempts from forehead bonsai I'm in my car, driving my sheared eyebrows to lunch with my chums.
I have become the tortoise in front of me that I used to curse and pass. I'd get a good look at the old Magoo, shake my head and floor it. Now I'm Captain Oblivious being left behind in the dust. I don't care. Garrison Keillor is lulling me into a senior reverie.
My chums and I talk about the pressing issue of our time: our prostates. I'll have a glass of water, the veggie sandwich and no dessert. My friend here will have a pair of knees, some hip surgery, a statin and a teaspoon of low-fat ice cream.
When our waitress passes by, we turn down the volume. We want the Teen Queen of Hearts to think we're the same virile kings we were at the beginning of the game and not a table of geriatric jokers comparing the hands we've been dealt.
So on my special day I blew out the candles and wished for a good hand from the dealer this year. The next morning my father's face was in the mirror again. My wife reached for her scissors. "Look at the hair in your ears. You look like a koala."
I winced, but I swear the old man smiled back at me.