July 18, 2017
By: Garland Davis
I achieved a new personal record today. It is my birthday. I am seventy-three! I have never been this old before.
I don’t know at what point one becomes old but, I guess this makes me officially “OLD.” I was not aware of how critical the situation had become until a recent incident brought it alarmingly to my attention. I was talking with a younger acquaintance and I happened to say, “I’ll tell you, when I was your age…”
I suddenly went silent. Not because I had forgotten what I meant to say (this happens more often than I care to admit), but because I was shocked. I heard myself sounding like every old fart I have encountered during my life. I was repeating the very thing that people said to me back in the day. You know, back in the day when I was, well not so old.
Of course, I knew that I was getting older. I could see it sometimes in the mirror. I think I saw myself in the mirror so often that the gradual changes of aging failed to register until one morning I wondered, “Who is this old Son of a Bitch looking back at me from the mirror? That can’t be me.”
Nevertheless, it is. Aging crept up on me when I wasn’t looking. When I go to the Navy Exchange, I find myself sometimes wondering why the Navy is promoting teenagers to Chief Petty Officer and who did that four striper know to be promoted to Captain so young? Why did they scrap the Kitty Hawk, they just built it? I still yell at old people on the highway, you know the road hog, slow pokes who are fifty five or sixty. And, I can’t help getting up at 5 AM in the morning, no matter how late I was up the night before, sometimes as late as 9 PM or so.
I don’t feel old. I just can’t seem to find it. Aging happens to others. I can’t place an actual number on old. I do believe it involves knowing how neat comfort height toilets are, that it is comfortable to wander around the house in my underwear and knowing that leaving my turn signal on because I am eventually going to turn left—within the next twenty minutes or so.
I didn’t really know how young I was in my youth. I knew I was young by the restrictions older people placed on me. Much of youth is waiting. Waiting for twelve or thirteen to start High School and be cool. Waiting for sixteen to drive…Waiting for seventeen to enlist in the Navy…Waiting for twenty-one to vote and purchase alcohol legally. I only realized how young I was in retrospect.
Whenever I talk with my shipmates and get their thoughts about getting older, the conservation usually leads to discussions of various ailments, in gruesome detail, and the attendant medications and surgeries. We bitch about Medicare, Tricare, the Veterans Administration, and the young, know-it-all, know nothing doctors. After a sufficient amount of beer is consumed the discussions often get down to the subject of regularity; you know the frequency and quality of bowel movements. When rectums and hemorrhoids become the subject, the bottom of the barrel is in sight.
This is about the time someone tells the story of a corpsman on the old Dicky B. Anderson who could cure everything but the clap and then it gets down to who can tell the biggest sea story. Stories of ships, shipmates, storms, wars, liberty ports, drinks and Asian girls. Suddenly we are young again laughing and living out the past vicariously in the bullshit and sea stories we share with each other. Shipmates.
We are told that with age comes wisdom. How’s that workin’ out for you? It hasn’t really panned out for me. But with the advance of technology, I figure, “What the hell?” With Google, I am as smart and wise as the next guy.”
And perhaps I am just wise enough to realize that, even at seventy-three, I may run into someone who might say to me, “When I was your age….” And maybe this time I won’t roll my eyes.
Damn, I just turned seventy-three today and seventy-four is rapidly gaining on my ass.
Psalm 90:10 says, “ The days of our years are threescore years and ten.” I guess that means my warranty expired three years ago and anything more is on me.