From Bonnie to Walmart
Getting old isn’t much fun, no matter what you hear from those who claim they’re happier being old than they were when they were young. That’s just pure nonsense – or they had a very awful childhood. But anyway, growing old has this way of creeping up on you so that sometimes you forget how old you are. But for me there’s a simple test, I just walk down the street and see how many people under 30 even notice I’m walking by them. None. That’s how many notice me.
It’s kind of like being the invisible man.
When I was young I spent a lot of time chasing girls and carousing around – which, sadly, turned out to be a huge waste of time. But back then I didn’t realize how little time I had to waste. When I was 20 I figured I was good for another 50 years at least – 50 years seemed like such a long, long time. An eternity to a 20-year-old. Plenty of time to waste and still have plenty of time left do meaningful stuff!
Well those 50 years have almost come and gone and it seems like yesterday I was licking the same ice cream cone at the same time as Bonnie. Bonnie was a girl that my buddies hooked me up with when I was 16 and deathly afraid of girls. You see, Bonnie had been around the block a few times. I hadn’t even gotten to the end of my driveway.
She scared me to death.
So now I’m old, my youth withered up and cracked like a dry lake bed… but I still can get into this being old stuff. My brain’s still 18. It’s like sitting in a house watching a great movie on TV while the house burns down around me. Everything is falling apart, and I still can’t get it into my head I’m an old coot – and that’s that.
When I was young it took a lot to please me. I was not easily amused. I was always looking for something (usually girls – after Bonnie lit the fire). I needed thrills like skydiving or driving too fast or drinking too much – stuff like. But now I’m just an old decrepit shell of my former self…but that has its advantages.
For instance, unlike during the vigor of my youth, my pleasures these days are small and easily obtained. I quit smoking. Darn near quit drinking, work hard …but don’t play hard. If I had seen this coming when I was 20 it would have ruined my youth – but no one 20 can imagine getting old. It’s like trying to imagine what it would be like to be a chimpanzee on Mars.
Last night I needed some groceries. So I went to Walmart. I know it’s sad but we have only 3 grocery stores in my town – not counting Big Lots and Ollie’s Bargain Barn or Rural King. The other two real grocery have stodgy clientele who are willing to pay outrageous prices so they can brag they don’t shop at Walmart. But I don’t like to waste money, because as with time, I don’t have much to waste, and when I do have a few extra bucks, I’m going to spend them on something good, like a spaghetti squash.
Walking around in Walmart last night, I realized that Walmart is a place where I feel comfortable. I can walk in there wearing my old sweat pants and t-shirt with my belly hanging out and no one notices, because no one cares. I can make funny noises, talk to myself, vent gas and do all manner of things I would never do anywhere else – and feel right at home.
Everyone at Walmart seems to be in the same boat. They would rather be at one of the other two grocery stores (but not Big Lots or Ollie’s Bargain Barn), but really froth at the idea of spending $6.49 for a jar of Kraft Miracle Whip that Walmart sells for $3.29. So there they are, creeping around with me in Walmart, hoping no one they know sees them there. As for me? I don’t care who sees me there.
That’s another advantage of being old – you can say you don’t care and really mean it.
It was raining last night, so I stayed at Walmart a little longer than I would have… looking for deals. They had an incredible sale on Fresh Wipes, which I really love – 2 for $1.78. I stocked up on them. That’s another thing I like about Walmart, you can be loading Fresh Wipes in your cart, a minute later a bunch of cumquats, and then the next minute you can be over in the duck hunting department picking out a camo hat, and turn around and scoot over to the dairy aisle and pick up some cage free eggs. Who ever heard of an egg in a cage anyway?
I ended up with $84.88 worth of groceries…that’s about $150 worth had I bought them at either of the prestigious grocery stores. I saved enough that I could have bought some new sweat pants that actually fit me, but I like my belly hanging out when I stroll around Walmart – it’s comfortable and no one notices, so I saved more money by not buying sweat pants.
All that shopping made me tired, you know how it is when you get old – well maybe you don’t — so I’ll tell you. You get tired easily. You get stiff easily (and I don’t mean drunk). You end up watching stuff on TV you would never have watched when you were younger – stuff like Charley Rose, Tavis Smiley, PBS Newshour – and reruns of “I Love Lucy” and “Lawrence Welk” (Dodge had a good time, too!).
I am not so picky anymore. People cut me some slack because I’m old…going on decrepit.
Whenever someone needs to lift something really heavy, like a sofa bed, they never even look at me, let alone ask me to help. If someone’s car won’t start when it’s 40 below zero, they never come knocking on my door to ask me to help them. When it snows, I can start shoveling snow for a minute or two then feign breathing difficulties and… sure enough… one of my neighbors comes to save the old man from rigor mortis and shovels my sidewalk for me while I sit in the kitchen drinking hot chocolate watching him clear the snow.
There’s not a whole lot to like about this getting old stuff. No one thinks you can do anything, so that’s good if the things that need to be done are heavy and make you sweat. My younger neighbors like to help me, especially when I wipe my brow and breathe loudly, or fall down to my knees and grab my head.
I like going to Walmart looking as terrible as I can possible look. Then I fit right in. My t-shirt too short, my sweatpants too low, my old belly bulging out, it’s fun I tells ya!
Oh yeah, and wearing socks with sandals is really cool too. I do that sometimes — it makes people think I have some kind of toenail fungus … or that my toenails are long and curly because I’m too old to bend over to cut them.
It’s not easy being old, but I don’t know if it’s any harder than being young. I mean Bonnie really did scare me. I may be an old coot, but Bonnie’s seen better days too.
Life has a way of balancing things out.
I’m not afraid of Bonnie anymore!