Monday, May 10, 2010

Class of 65'

It’s class reunion time for the class of 65’, that would be number forty five, and as I enter this “golden age of living” appreciative of every additional day on the planet and knowing many in this generation are no longer here to enjoy the miracles of modern medicine, I still worry about my image. I’ve done about everything I can do for about the last two weeks, trying to pull and tuck but it looks like I’m destined to attend in the bag I’m wearing.

Actually, I worry about the image of all the “boomers”. We are now depicted as incontinent (living on various continents I suppose) unable to get up when we fall, using enough hair dye to turn the Blue Danube brown and riding around in our hover rounds hoping for that all important four hour Cialis moment. Not a pretty picture. When your stomach’s as big as volleyball and your skin’s as dry as week old pork skins the four hour “whatever” is just not a major issue. I doubt that I could fish for four hours and my brother and I always preferred tinker toys to erector sets anyway.

The image problem just might be the fault of cable news advertising. These guys see the “boomers” as their main source of revenue for at least the next ten years…longer if they can just keep us alive. The class of 65’ is the mother lode for medicinal miracles from the medicine doctors and if you tune in you can always find some quack selling something to make you feel longer, stronger, and more in charge of your life, however drugged out you might be. All this while taking ten different pills to help you stay happy.

We’re sixty-three, look like seventy three and feel like eighty three when the ads tell us we can be forty-three again if we just buy the right cream or drink the bark off a healthy tree. Well, the truth is, we’re buying it. And why not? We always thought we were something special and now just look at us... supporting the economy in a way in which no other generation thought possible, through chemistry. My real problem with most of the ads is their lack of sensitivity to my health problems in the first place.

Why do I have to have everything that may be wrong with me broadcast over the idiot box to three hundred million healthy people? My night sweats, my going and going, my aching arches, and poor timing when the “time is right”? And if I get one more email telling me there’s a Russian girl out there who wants to get to know me I think I’ll liquidate all my many “assets”. Oh, then there’s the one that lets me know someone has a great place for my “aging loved one”. That would be mom and she’s got more energy than I! She told me once that every ten years of her life was better than the previous ten and she’s in her eighth decade.

I now understand what Ol’ Mick’s quote, “If I had known I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself.” I hope I can say I never harmed anyone as much as I harmed myself. That would be a good thing. Can you imagine the gnashing of teeth that would take place if each one of us decided to take better care of ourselves, eliminate the necessity for drugs in our lives and take a positive attitude into the future? Who told us we needed drugs to make us happier in the first place? It probably began when some infomercial on television, kept us up later than we should have been to sell us on a product designed to give us the energy we wouldn’t have needed had we gone to bed in the first place.

No Driver's Ed for Tiger

It’s Masters Week and I hope Tiger does well. After all, he’s been humiliated, missed his son’s birthday, messed up his marriage (hopefully temporarily) and lost a bunch of money for car dealers, watch makers and people who make razors and such. The sad thing is had he taken a simple course in Drivers Education and kept his eye on the ball, much of this could have been avoided. One of the first things you learn in Drivers Education is the importance of the rear view mirror and had he been looking into that thing he might have been able to avoid the disaster in the form of the nine iron or whatever club she used to help him get out of the Escalade. The questions that loom are, did he trade golf immortality for temporary immorality and what drove him to it in the first place.

It has been estimated that his romp in life’s rough has cost his sponsors billions in lost revenue but if he shoots 68 tomorrow he’ll once again be the darling of the media and back on the fairway of life, capable of commanding huge sums to sell merchandise. It’s the American way but isn’t it interesting that because he can putt and chip well we all think he’s our business? Notice I didn’t say anything about driving.
They used to teach this stuff (Drivers Ed) in schools but they stopped and now we have people who believe the car to be a rolling phone booth. I learned early from a guy named Paul Car…that’s right, I said “Car”, that the automobile is a potential missile on wheels that demands our utmost respect. The rear view mirror, often used to apply makeup in order to make the eyes and lips look larger for today’s late to work, grossly underpaid “supermodel”, is our best defense against surprises like nine irons. And the turn indicator, that foreign object protruding from the steering wheel, and usually used only at the last possible second, can be a valuable information tool when used in a timely manner and not while actually into the turn.

Now I understand that some cars have put the widow wipers on the turn indicator knob and some drivers can’t decide whether to wash the windows or signal for a turn but if it’s not raining this seems like a simple decision. There are those who can apply their face, signal for a turn, wash their windows and text at the same time but they’re probably athletic. Ever been riding down the road, using the cell phone, hung up and then wonder what you passed during your conversation? It’s called acting without thinking, something I’m prone to do around the house and I’ve probably hit more hydrants and trees than most folks. The text message scares me, much as it did Tiger, for one cannot send a text message without taking his eyes off where he should be going and there lies the problem…unless you have Marty Feldman eyes (Young Dr. Frankenstein) and can look two places at one time. Even if you do that one of those places is going to get blurry and in Tiger’s case it was his home life.

Similar to a person with a drinking problem, he just “blacked out” with regard to the family and hit that fateful tree. He took his eye off the ball of life, so to speak. Most text messages are trivial nonsense anyway like, “Hey, sup dawg?” but I’m not surprised Tiger drove into that tree. If you had twenty plus teasers, textin, tweetin, talking and trying to get steer you into the rough (where most balls are lost) a tree would be the least of your worries. Tiger’s going to be ok as soon as he’s convinced he can have just as much fun in the fairway and not lose nearly as many balls. He just spent a little too much time in the “rough”.


However you interpret the Bible or whether or not you even believe it to be true, you have to admit we have fallen short in our role as earth’s stewards. Sitting here, writing this, looking at pictures, trying to get a “grip” on what I’m seeing; I just cannot fathom what we humans have done. There’s no one to blame, if you drive a car, own a refrigerator or have any “normal” existence at all, you use oil. I guess that means we’re all at fault for the disaster facing the southeastern coast of America.

My fear is that this tragedy, like others in recent times, will go by the way and lessons to be learned will be lost. Dad use to have us pile into the car and take us to the most beautiful place you’ve ever seen. The road that led us there was unpaved and narrow, with only a few places to park without getting bogged down in the sand.

And oh, that sand! Sand as white as snow…so white it would hurt your eyes and water, so emerald blue you could see thirty feet down. There were sand dunes as high as buildings with sea oats and wildlife scurrying about. We’d run up the dunes, slide down the other side and there it would be…the gulf... beautiful, pristine, our playground, and a wonderful gift from mother earth. We would be the only people for miles around as we rode the waves and played in the white sand. Somehow we thought it would always be there. I realize now it may not be there for me anymore and probably not for my daughter and her children. Mom still lives there…hope the fumes don’t affect her health, I heard the EPA is checking for toxic levels.

I grew up with an author named Thornton W. Burgess who wrote fables in the early 20th century. His stories were about Sammy Jay, Longlegs the Heron and others who lived near the Smiling Pond and Laughing Brook and had varying opinions about Farmer Brown’s Boy…their human. If the dolphins and sea turtles of the gulf could speak, I wonder what they’d say. “We saw you coming, watched from the sea as you began your assault on our home. We wondered as you took away the dunes, replaced them with towers so you could stay longer, look farther, drink harder and enjoy our home. We cried as you took our bounty, our sons and daughters for food and sport and left us with cigarette butts and beer cans. And we mourned as you drilled, knowing one day we would have to leave. When God placed us in the Garden we were blessed by Him. He entrusted you with naming and caring for us. You have betrayed that trust.” And they just might be right. I think that one of the lessons of the tragedy in the gulf is that we are entrusted; we do have responsibility whether from God or nature. That our actions with regard to the “little people” of the planet be they fowl, fish or mammal, have consequences for us and them.

I’m speaking of the wildlife of course, those little fellows that scurry when we come, don’t understand and just want to enjoy the life they have with us as the creatures entrusted with their care. I grieve for the turtles, birds and fish that will wash ashore, covered in something they didn’t understand. The tragedy of the gulf lies in each of those creatures we failed to protect. We humans have a way of coming out on top…sometimes…this time it may be different, but we’ll probably find someone to pay, someone to fix it, someone to blame . Call me crazy but I still cannot figure out why people insist on mistreating their dogs.