We are not happy

We are turning 55 in about a month and we are not happy.  We now must come face to face with a lot of unpleasant realities. Namely,

In a short time, we will be fully qualified to order off of the senior citizen’s menu at Denny’s (a fact the three grown children remind us of on a regular basis). We don’t care much for the senior citizen’s menu largely from a vanity standpoint. Ordering the Senior Slam® forces us to admit to an age and point in life where people think they need to give us a discount. We think we would rather order the Original Slam®, avoid the truth, and preserve our ego.

We are getting more mail from AARP® and an assortment of other senior citizen groups that we really do not want to talk to. We wonder if there is some master “old goat” list that tells AARP and all the other senior focused groups how and where to find us. It must be part of the proverbial “right wing conspiracy” we hear so much about.

We can no longer talk in terms of what we will do when we grow up. For some odd reason, 55 seems to be the age when we are “grown up.” We dispute this theory on the thought that many men and women accomplished their greatest feats after the age of 55. We are informed by the wife that we can no longer use this excuse. This from the one whose motto is “she who must be obeyed.” We always thought that this applied only to the kids and are surprised to learn it also applies to us.

We also notice there are more medicines in our cabinet now. There’s stuff for blood pressure, cholesterol, the all important vitamin D, and the 50+ specialty vitamin. We don’t like this either because now we have to have a special little box to store each day’s pills in so we don’t forget to take something. We aren’t going to waste our time and/or money on Rogaine or any of the other “lifestyle” pills and such like that. We will not go there.

We are looked at by the younger people we have in our network as either a wizened veteran or a washed out old goat. We can never tell which and we’re not sure we want to know anyway. They laugh at us when we forget stuff and we remind them that they too will be in their fifties someday. It is an embarrassing thing to call the receptionist in the other building and tell her to remind you why you came over when you get there (yes, this has actually happened). There have been enough jokes about memory loss for those past 50. We don’t need anymore here.

Finally, we don’t really know why we’re writing in the first person plural.

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That’s One

(NOTE: I don’t remember where I heard this story. It may have been from my Dad. He lived through the depression and this sounds like it came from him. Enjoy).

Back during the depression, a lot of people married out of either convenience or need. Men needed feeding and somebody to help out with chores (especially on farms) and women needed shelter and protection. It was as simple as that.

Well, this one fellow had a little bit of ground that he farmed. It was such hard work and he had no family to help him. He met a young lady at church whose family had all died off in the influenza outbreak. Well, she seemed like somebody who could work and so he asked her to marry him. She on her part was grateful for the chance to have somewhere safe to live and to work so she accepted. She went out and spent her few remaining dollars on a pretty little dress to get married in. He did not have a car but he did have a wagon so he fixed it up best as he could. To top that off he went out a bought himself a new mule to pull the wagon with.

So, the wedding day come and they got married in the town church. Now, it was seven plus miles from the church to his place. He brought his fixed up wagon and new mule to carry his bride back home in. She didn’t have much in the way of worldly possessions, but what she did have, he loaded up in back of the wagon, lifted his pretty little bride up in the seat and off they went to the farm and their new home.

It was such a pretty day and they were having such a fine ride. Along about a mile or so down the road, though, that old mule of his just stopped dead in its tracks. He wouldn’t move an inch. That ole farmer looked a bit disgusted, climbed down from his seat, and walked up right in front of that mule. He reared back and slapped that mule right across his face. He looked that mule dead in his eyes and said “That’s one.” With that, he got back up in his seat with his bride, grabbed the reigns, and off that mule went heading for the farm. Well, his bride was pretty impressed with the way he handled that mule. She got to thinking she had herself a pretty good man here.

They went along another mile or so and, you know, that ole mule just flat stopped again! Not only did he stop, he sat down. Well, not to be deterred, mister farmer climbed down from his seat again, walked over right in front of that mule and slugged him right smack dab in the mouth. “That’s two,” he snarled. With that, he climbed back up, the mule stood up, and off they went.

They got within three miles of the farm when that ornery old mule stopped dead in his tracks again. Well, this old farmer swore under his breath, shook his head in complete disgust, and climbed down off his seat. Walked up right in front of this mule, pulled out his pistol and BLAM! He shot that ole mule right between the eyes! He fell over graveyard dead. “My goodness” the little bride said to herself. “How will we get home now?” When the farmer got back up in his seat, she leaned over and asked, “Sweetie, how will we get home now? I can’t walk on this dirt road in my new dress and there are all my things in the back?” Mister farmer turned towards his brand new bride, took her by both hands, and said, ”That’s one.”

Snakes and dawgs

I was raised in Randall County, Texas on the far southwest edge of Amarillo. I could walk two blocks and be out of town (regular readers already know this). I lived on Hall Street which, at that time, was only two or three blocks long. It was in the middle of a very small housing area known as Chateau Village. I lived there until about the time that I figured out that girls didn’t have cooties and then Dad moved all of us over to Yale Street near the James Butler Bonham Junior High School.

Well, now, there were four vacant fields of various sizes that were near my parent’s  house on Hall Street. The nearest one was right across the street behind Russell Thompson’s house. His Daddy was an engineer for the Santa Fe Railroad and they’d lived in Texas all their lives. Well, anyway, that particular field was the smallest being about as big as two or three house lots. I did not play in this field a lot because it was so small. But there is an interesting story from that field that I want to tell you.

You all ever seen corrugated tin roof material? You usually see it over barns sometimes or maybe a chicken coop. Well, if you’ve seen it you know what I’m talking about. There was several of us out in this small field one summer day and we came across a sheet of this tin roofing lying on the ground. Well, we figured we would have some use for it somehow somewhere so we picked it up to haul off. We did that only to find two or three snakes up underneath it. They were probably just a couple of old garter snakes but that didn’t matter. They were snakes and to a bunch of little boys, they might as well have been Godzilla’s family. Truth be told, they could not have been more than a foot or two long.

We dropped that tin and took off running for help. Nearest house to go to was the Thompson’s. We ran in to see Mrs. Thompson (we called her Miss Jean), out of breath to tell her about the snakes. Now, we had only run maybe a hundred yards or so but, in that distance, those snakes grew from one or two feet to seven or eight feet. “MISS JEAN!! MISS JEAN!! There’s a bunch of snakes out back in the field!! One done ate da dawg and now he’s after us!!” Miss Jean never looked up, “I never did like that dawg anyway,” she said. We were stumped to know what to do so off we ran to my house and my Mom.  Now… about my Mom. She was about 5’2” in her heels and a just little bitty ole thing. She had been born and raised in Massachusetts in a “proper” New England family. The woman had gone to finishing school. So, when we three very excited little boys came dashing in the house in mortal fear of the snakes (and by now they were every bit of 15 feet and had eaten two dogs and a cat), my little Mom just slumped into the chair in the kitchen. She was at a loss what to do so she called Miss Jean. She listened for a minute and calmly put the phone down. “I did not care for that dog myself,” she intoned and returned to her work.

Women just don’t understand. If only Dad had been there, those snakes wouldn’t have got those dawgs. Don’t care about the cat.

The College Wars

I took my third born to a college visit. You know those dog and pony shows the universities put on? Everybody gets herded into a big room and are then told all the wonderful experiences your kid will have. You spend 20 G’s a year and your kid gets to make friends. At the end of four (maybe even five) longs years, he/she gets a degree in some field they will probably never work in. This is now my third, and last, round of college visits.

My third born, the second son, does not really know what he wants to major in. He would prefer  I think to live  life as a permanent life guard at the city pool. I imagine he would rather not put this kind of pressure on himself before he wants or needs to. I can certainly understand that considering that I am now approaching the age to qualify for the senior citizen’s discount at Denny’s and I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. My wife reminds me on a regular basis that I am already grown up, a fact that I dispute, much to her consternation. Well, I digress.

Our visit to the big state university (Purdue) was within a group of about 500 students and their parents. My son declared early on that he had no intention of attending here as it was too big and impersonal. I think he used the term “factory school.” We were herded through a generic briefing where I was told to be prepared to fork over a $20,000.00 US dollars a year (there went my retirement). Next we were shepherded into another hall with representatives from the various schools within Purdue. My intrepid student has an interest in economics so we looked for representatives from the Krannert School of Management. He was grossly offended that economics was part of a management school and not a school unto itself. That just would not do in his mind. This school was all but struck off his list.

The next stage in the adventures of this wandering herd of confused parents and kids was a tour of the dormitory. As it happened, the dorm we went through was the one where the majority of the freshman lived. Our tour guide proudly told us that this particular dorm was the second largest freshman dorm in the nation. I was thinking to myself, “A building stuffed full of freshman? No good can come from this.” The son made no statement on his potential accommodations but I think he thought the rooms a might small.

As we were guests of the university that day, they invited us to have lunch on them in one of five dining facilities. We had been given a card that would entitle the two of us to eat at the facility that was right next to the freshman dorm. This was our youngest son’s favorite part of the day thus far. I was glad too as this was a meal that somebody else was going to feed him. We were met at the door to the eatery by a guide and she briefed us on the procedure. There were seven lunch centers, each one having a different cuisine. There was salads at one, burgers at another, pizza at the next bar, so forth and so on. You get the picture. There was also an oriental counter and finally a desert center. Our culinary tour guide ended our briefing with the statement, “Oh, and it’s all you can eat.” I looked at my son in the full and confident knowledge that he had suddenly decided that he had found his school. One burger with fries, four slices (or was it five?) of pizza, a sub sandwich, and ice cream later, he had confirmed in his mind that he had found his “sense of place.”

I cannot imagine the challenge of feeding an entire school of perpetually hungry boys. A lot of these boys will join the military and continue on their feeding frenzy. No wonder the government runs a deficit.