A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Old Age – I Realized I Had Arrived!
Realizing I had arrived at dreaded “old age,” I found it wasn’t as bad as I had expected. It’s like dreading the dentist, then hearing, “You have no cavities.” There actually are benefits to OA. What are they? you ask. Plenty.
More people hold doors open for you, give you and your bottle of Geritol their place in line, and charge you only a small fortune at movie theaters when they see your gray hair. I remember feeling appalled when cashiers first started judging by my looks that I was a senior. I’d grudgingly pay less for my coffee, then stomp off to the sugar and creamer counter.
Now that I’m comfortably settled into OA, I experience new benefits each day, less stress and more time for joy and laughter. The joy comes after scenarios like this: spending 10 minutes chatting with a familiar face in Walmart and wondering, where do I know her from? I don’t really hear a word she’s said because church, library, Elks Club and the names of every other store in town have been racing through my mind. I try picturing her kneeling, reading or chugging a beer, but nothings clicks. Aha, I think, store, counter, Rite Aid – bingo! She’s the nice lady who gives me all my prescriptions.
Joy to the world.
I recently attended a funeral for my friend’s 92-year-old dad. I slid into a pew and nodded to the woman sitting next to me. Realizing I knew her, I smiled and whispered, “How are you?” Of course, I didn’t catch any of what she whispered back; I was too busy searching my brain for her name. I was thrilled that I knew where I knew her from – church – unlike the other women I saw at church but actually knew from Lacey Pet Shop. While trying to pay attention to the service, I tried the running-through-the-alphabet thing, but it never works. Well, I thought, it’s a short name. Finally, at the sign of peace, joy sprang from my heart as “Peace be with you – June” sprang from my mouth.
The laughter part of OA comes often: when you realize you’re pointing your car fob at the front door of your house, when you open the fridge for a coffee mug, when you almost put toothpaste on your hair brush. The laughs just keep on coming.
OA and retirement give me more time for important things such as prayer, reading, meditation and sitcoms. “The Big Bang Theory” is a blast! No matter how many times I hear Howard’s mother scream, “GET THE DOOR, HOWARD,” it’s still funny. No matter how many times Sheldon goes (knock, knock, knock) “Penny?” it’s still funny.
With On Demand and OA, my husband, Carl, and I can watch all the reruns of our favorite shows over and over and over, and still be surprised by the endings. In fact, the uncertainty leads to fun guessing games such as NCIS Jeopardy: Carl says, “Remember, Tony had it right, the murderer was the captain with that straight back, straight hair and crooked smile.”
“No, it was the husband because everyone always thinks it’s the husband and it never is, so this time it was the husband because they have us thinking it’s never the husband, but this time it was the husband.” The one who guesses correctly feels like a Jeopardy champion.
For me, another benefit of abundant TV time is commercials. Carl likes sports; I like the commercials. As I am a writer, I appreciate the talent that goes into writing good commercials, especially the Geico ones. But, of course, I only get to enjoy them on the rare occasions I get my hands on the remote first. I’ve come to realize the true definition of remote control is “the one who gets control of the remote first.”
Mute is Carl’s favorite button. Watching and listening to a commercial once is enough for him, leaving me repeatedly begging for volume: “Please don’t mute that commercial the next time it comes on.”
“Why?” he says.
“Because I want to hear what the little guys sawing the log in the cuckoo clock are saying.”
“Why? It’s only a commercial,” he says.
“Because I like commercials.”
“We’ve already seen it,” he says.
“You have already seen it and heard it. I haven’t.”
Next time it comes on, Carl heroically keeps his thumb off the mute button but foolishly warns me, “Pay attention.” He knows I’ll need 10 takes to remember if they’ve been sawing that log for 114 years or 140 years.
“WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE?”
“I LIKE COMMERCIALS!”
Well, most commercials, that is. There are times I beg Carl, “Hit the mute, hit the mute.” For instance, when the Mayhem Guy in the Allstate commercial rears his ugly head. Bam, he’s blasting out of the dashboard. How creepy is that? Not quite as creepy as the “fees” crawling through people’s hair like fleas. I have no idea what it’s advertising and, for once, couldn’t care less. Unfortunately, my memory retains these monstrosities like Bounty retains messes.
At this stage of life, when Carl and I choose to relax by sitting side by side in our lounge chairs, reading good novels, the same wonderful scenario unfolds as with TV reruns. OA allows us to read the same books over and over.
Recently, I’ve been thoroughly enjoying all the Mary Higgins Clark books I read during the last century, and loving the surprise endings. Life is good, at all stages.
Dotty Cronan lives in Forked River, N.J.