On Walmart and Bonnie: The Joys Of Growing Old
Getting old isn’t much fun, no matter what you hear from those who claim they’re happier being old than they were being young. Bull hockey I tells ya! That’s just someone trying to make their old age seem more tenable. It’s just pure nonsense, because I’m getting old and I know what goes on! It could be, though, that those who claim that being old is better than being young had an awful childhood or they made a lot of money later in life and now traverse the world in their own Lear jet surrounded by pretty young flight attendants.
But anyway, growing old has a 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 even exist. None. Zero percent. Nada. Zilch. That’s how many notice me.
It’s kind of like being the invisible man. Not always a bad thing.
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 thought I had plenty of time 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 come and gone really quickly and now it seems like just yesterday I was licking an ice cream cone with 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 yet. It was a mismatch not made in heaven. She scared me to death.
So now I’m old, my youth withered up and caked like dry mud on an ancient lake bed. I know it, but I still can’t get into this being old stuff. My brain’s still 18 and that’s seems to be where it wants to stay. It’s like sitting in a house watching a great movie on TV while the house burns down around me. Everything is falling apart, but I still can’t get it into my head I’m an old coot. But that’s enough of that.
When I was young it took a lot to please me. I was not easily amused. I was always looking for something new to excite me. I needed thrills like skydiving or driving too fast or drinking too much, parties, hooliganism and stuff like that. But now I’m just the 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 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.
I’m just one of the masses at Walmart.
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 $3.78. 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 – I can actually say “I don’t care” and really mean it.
It was snowing 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 kumquats, and the next minute you can be over in the duck hunting department picking out a camo hat and shotgun ammo. Next thing, you can 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 newer – and better fitting – sweat pants.
All that shopping made me tired. Maybe you don’t know how it is when you get old – 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 “The Fountain of Youth: Apple Cider Vinegar”, “The Healthy Postate “, “Golf Carting for Fun” – and reruns of “I Love Lucy”, “Marcus Welby M.D.” “Gunsmoke” and so on.
I am not so picky anymore. People cut me some slack because I’m old; I border on the 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 with pity in his eyes, shovels my sidewalk for me, while I sit in the kitchen drinking hot chocolate and watching.
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 chest.
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… no one even looks at me because I look like everyone else.
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 haven’t seen her in 54 years. I may be an old coot but I bet Bonnie’s seen better days too.
Life has a way of balancing things out.
Guess what? I’m not afraid of Bonnie anymore!