As each decade of his life unfurls, Grumpy bravely takes the time to stand naked in front of the mirror.
It seems that at the completion of each decade of life, the wear and tear, the caloric top ups and the too-busy-to-move excuses, leave Grumpy’s endomorphic frame sagging and dragging like a sack of bulbous potatoes. The spare tire, the roll over, and the double chin become proof of the pudding – literally.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Grumpy’s in pretty good shape for an old guy. But the fact that he’s an old guy is undeniable. I mean, people of his age unexpectedly bite the dust every day.
Grumpy can prove it.
You see, each decade brings forth habits that, before long, take center stage and become a part of the new “you”. Take the task of scanning the daily obituaries, for instance. This daily ritual is not intended as a search for people you know, but rather to check the birth date and/or age of those who have recently “given up the ghost”. Far too many are appearing in or around the age range Grumpy now finds himself treading water.
A paper reading session goes something like this. The Grumps turn to the obits, reading the first several lines, trying to pinpoint the important details.
“Hmmmmm! Here’s one. Date of birth, September 16, 1952. Holy crap, the dudes only 61, younger than me. What’s with that?”
His finger skims down the entry looking for further clues. It’s Grumpy’s forensic scan for cause of death.
“Here it is. Donations may be made to the Heart and Stroke Foundation. My gawd, the guy died of a heart attack.”
Peering over my shoulder, the Good Wife will interject, “Grumpy, there are lots of older people listed there in their 70’s and 80’s. Stop worrying, already!”
She’s right of course, until I’m 70 or 80, I won’t worry about them. I’m more concerned with , “Charles Chesterman” here; dead as a doorknob after biting the dust at age 61.
Cause of Death: “The Big One”.
My in-laws recently commented that, “Yes, we’re meeting a lot of our old friends at funerals these days.” Grumpy believes the funeral “lunch” was a big part of his own parent’s social life as they got older. “Damn, those salmon salad sandwiches were good,” Grumpy’s dad would announce.
Grumpy recalls his dear father, when he was in the age-stage he’s now entering, being preoccupied with obituaries as well. He’d pick up mother from work at noon so that they could have lunch together at home. He’d listen to the radio as she watched her favorite soap opera – The Guiding Light.
Perish the thought that little Grumpy Junior should attempt to talk when the obituaries were announced on the radio.
“SHHUUUSH! Quiet everyone,” Old Joe would announce. “They’re about to list the funerals in town.”
Privately, Grumpy came to call this, “The Dinner Death List”.
However, it was the ensuing conversation that always made him chuckle. It went something like this.
DAD: “Bob Wilson? Wasn’t he married to Betty Brown?”
MOM: “No, Joe, that’s the Bob Wilson over on South Street you’re thinking of. The one on the radio is the Bob Wilson that works in the tax office at city hall.”
DAD: “Oh, ya, he’s married to Art Stewart’s sister, Millie. Yup, used to see him at the Lodge. Was kind of an odd duck, you know!”
MOM: “Now, Joe, you shouldn’t speak ill of the dead!”
DAD: “Visitations at 6 tonight, Helen.”
As Grumpy got older he’d often ask, “But, dad, do you really know that guy very well?” It seems as if they were attending funerals at least once or twice a week.
His answer would go something like this: “Well, no! We really didn’t know, Bob, that well. But we knew his wife’s best friend, Martha, and we had a nice visit with her. Besides, First Church makes great salmon salad sandwiches.”
But, Grumpy digresses.
What in Hell’s name has this to do with the “mirror, mirror” on the wall experience?
Quite simply, it is the fact that old Grumpy could croak at any moment and his chances of doing so are increased with every fat fold he sees in the mirror. The prospect of his demise is thrown in his face on a daily basis. Heck, Grumpy takes more pills on a daily basis than the number of Smarties you’d find in a small candy box. Grumpy’s generation is dropping like flies. Two of his three best friends growing up are now deceased.
The writing is on the wall, friends.
You see, when Grumpy turned thirty he became a runner (7 miles a day). At forty, after numerous injuries and knee problems, the Grumps became a walker. At 50, he bought a Universal machine and a treadmill. Grumpy watched episodes of CSI as he worked out. Seeing all of those cadavers were sufficient motivation for him to keep up this hamster scramble – walking briskly but going nowhere fast. That’s sort of the story of his life.
So, what is Grumpy to do in his sixties?
Advanced rocking chair plyometric exercises?
Non Contact Slow Yoga?
Kettle Ball Dragging?
No, none of that, my friends.
After the “shock” and the inevitable “aw shucks”, Grumpy picked up his bootstraps in early September and embarked on a Seniors Boot Camp regimen that would put him back in shape.
This is an annual event now –GRUMPY’S SEPTEMBER SENIORS BOOTCAMP – and Grumpy plans to describe it to you, in full. But, since it’s nap time, he’ll take a pass on writing about it for now. His fingers are stiff and his back is sore and it’s just about time for Doctor Phil.
But, Grumpy warns you in advance that there are some blips inherent in a self-directed fitness regimen. You see, Grumpy wonders how he’ll make his way to his comfy armchair without opening the refrigerator door. Hell, because of damn technological advances the remote still works when he’s standing in the kitchen.
And, oh my, Thanksgiving is just around the corner!