Thursday, August 04, 2011

That Guy

Last Saturday, Bike Shop Jim tried to pin me down. "You riding tomorrow with us over to Bear Brook?"

I was still undecided at that point. The plan called for another Sunday shot because of a bike ride. I knew it would turn into an all day affair. Bear Brook State Park in New Hampster was chock full of punishing trails.....miles of punishing trails. Besides, the group we were hooking up with were true gnarly dudes, looking to pound whoever was along into the ground with their stiff pace and aggressive riding. My body was no longer young and numb and finally I had started to wrap my mind around this notion. Riding on Sunday was gonna hurt............deep.

I looked at Bike Shop Jim. "Uh, I don't know yet. You know I have a yard that is out of control and I......."

"Here come the excuses." Jim started in. "Come on ole man, just admit you are over the hill. Grab your walker and go home." He smiled and then said, "You picking up lunch today? I feel like a Turkey club from Rosa's."

"Yeah I guess so. Call it in. Order me up a roast beef club, ...uh... No, make that a ham and cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion and mayo. Not toasted." I grabbed the truck keys and headed out.

The whole run to Rosa's Jim's "walker" comment stuck in my craw. On the way back to the bike shop I saw an old duffer inching along Main St making slow but steady progress with his walker. If I lived long enough, I knew the odds were even I would be that guy someday. And the day I might become that guy was not as far off as it used to be.

When asked my age recently, I have been telling people I am sixty years old like some teenager not quite 16 who cannot wait to claim that next birthday less than a year away. I don't think I am doing it because I am looking forward to being sixty. Christ, who looks forward to being sixty? I think I am claiming sixty as a kind of preparation exercise for when my next birthday finally rolls around. Claiming it now keeps the shock of hitting the big 6-0 down to a minimum. Anyway, that's my theory and for now I'm running with it.

So I slow down and pull over on Main St to watch in my mirror the old codger struggle along behind his walker. He never slows. He never speeds up. Two steps, pick up the walker, move it forward a foot or so and then two more steps, and so on. He finally catches up to where I am pulled over.

As he passes my window, he looks over and says, "Beautiful day, ain't it." And on he goes, not even hesitating to hear my reply which I never made, because his cheery demeanor caught me off guard. I could not imagine myself with even the hint of a cheerful thought if I was stuck behind a walker on Main St. And here is this old fart, smiling and cruising at a snail's pace loving life. Damn.

I pulled back into traffic and finished the drive back to the bike shop. On the way, I decided I was going to ride on Sunday come Hell or high water. I knew that the number of rides I had left in me were dwindling and any day on a bike, no matter how painful, beat gimping on Main St behind a walker. And yeah, the ride was painful, but I survived and grinned all the way home. Thanks to that guy and his walker.

See Ya...............................

Image poached from Bleed Cubbie Blue


AirmanMom said...

You can do this!
I was told a while back, "Growing old is not for wimps".


El Cerdo Ignatius said...

I think I am claiming sixty as a kind of preparation exercise for when my next birthday finally rolls around.

Back in March 2004, I was visiting an elderly former neighbour whom I hadn't seen in years. She was born in May 1926, but told me she was 78 years old.

"Uh, hold it," I corrected. "You wouldn't be 78 yet. Your birthday is later in the spring, isn't it?"

"My dear," she replied matter-of-factly, "as soon as the New Year hits, I always put myself a year ahead."

Good advice, that. I've started doing that myself: about three months before my birthday, I clock ahead a year if anyone asks.

My former neighbour passed away earlier this year, in February, and near the end I have no doubt she was telling everyone she was 85.

Kulkuri said...

Age is a case of mind or matter, if you don't mind, it don't matter.

In recent years I've gone for long stretches thinking I was a certain age and realizing after some time that I was off a year one way or the other. I guess it's true, the memory is the first thing to go!!

John Myste said...

A character on Frasier, who was attempting to justify his odd action of hopping a train explained: "I am 80 years old. One day soon I may not be able to jump off a moving freight train."

BBC said...

Bike Shop Jim, Interesting handle.

I've gotten wise enough to not think I'm young and can keep up anymore, and it's okay. Might try those lawnmower races though.

I don't care to be that old man on the street, don't care to get that old. More interested in going out with a bang.

John Myste said...

I saved that image to my desktop. It is pure art.

Where did you happen upon it?

Demeur said...

Growing old would be so bad if it wasn't so painful. We used to be able to do stupid things and bounce back by the next day. Not so any more. And I think you know what I'm talking about.

John Myste said...

Hey, can you please tell Anonymous that I would like to watch Final Destination, and his offer is much appreciated.

Thanks, man.