Sunday, March 8, 2009

Nursing Home Blues in New Orleans

Po Boy Views
Phil LaMancusa
They say that age aint nothin’ but a number, but I’m not sure that I agree and possibly ‘They’ don’t know what the f**k ‘They’re’ talking about. I agree that age is something that becomes less apparent to a person when adult beverages are being consumed; that is, by the person consuming the adult beverages and of course by other adult beverage consumers in the vicinity. Nothing is more fun than being drunk around a bunch of other drunks, unless you’re not drinking. That's when it's no fun at all.
Recall, if you will, your tipsy Auntie Rose as she did the shimmy-shake (as she recalled it) and how embarrassed you were to be in the same room with her. She was experiencing a time warp and if you had been inside of her, you would have seen a young, very attractive, young girl and not the aging woman that was the product of years and years of hard domestic labor.
But, I digress. Let's start here: There is a certain temperament of person that reads obituaries and they’re usually preoccupied with death. There is also a certain temperament about the person who appears in the obituaries: they’re dead, and if they lived long enough they were old when they died and that in part is the fascination that obituary readers have. The subconscious question in an obit reader is: ‘how long do I have left?’
We ask: who were they? (the deceased) “How come he died so young, or was he very old? Is the body still warm? Is it already cold?”
Do you care what an older person sees when they look out from their eyes? Maybe not, but you’ve read this far.
I can truthfully tell you that they do not see themselves as others see them. The person inside the sixty-plus-year old body is usually no older than twenty-five, except to the person looking at them and if the person looking is a lot younger… that sixty-plus-year old looks more like Methuselah. And if; by the way, Methuselah has not been taking care of themselves their body does not feel, or work, like the twenty-five year old that they imagine themselves to be. There is the stigma of being Peter Pan in an old man’s body. If the stigmatism is worse for men than for women, I couldn’t tell you. All I CAN tell you is this: it sucks getting old.
There’s a song by John Prine that recommends that when you see an older person, look into their eyes and say “hello in there ”. When you get older, you'll find that very few young people will say “hello in there”. So, I say to the youth of today, ‘screw that!’ You’re gonna get old soon enough and if old people feel bad about you not connecting with them, then they just need to suck it up. And don’t feel bad about it, they were the same way about old people when they were young, with few exceptions. Besides, they probably know all the words to that song “Don’t ever hit your Granny with a shovel”, if you get my drift.
When you get older, you’ll find out some stuff about those 'younger persons', which is who you are now. Generally younger people will feel funny about you, and in truth they WILL periodically abide you and sometimes even suffer you. They will be attracted by you, but not to you. There are lessons about getting older that are only learned with age, if you should live that long. So I’ve put together the:
Ten Commandments for Geezers
1. You’re not getting any younger, don’t pretend to be and don’t be ashamed of it. Stop coloring your pubic hairs, it’s too late for that.
2. There are no do-overs, be wise about your everyday actions. Just try not to wear stained clothing, and to trim your nose hairs, it looks weird.
3. Be happy with who you are; you aint got much else, except the fact that you don’t have to work any more and they do.
4. You’d better take better care of yourself, if you haven’t done that good a job of it so far, it might not be too late. Then again it may be too late (but it can’t hurt).
5. Don’t dwell on your age or your past, dwell on how you’re going to go about feeling good about who you are at this moment, when you’re probably about to pass gas.
6. Keep busy, there’s still a lot to do and see, taste, feel and experience. It’s time to spend your retirement money. Eat cake and leave no crumbs
7. Try not to piss anybody off, and by all accounts, you’ve done enough of that already. Don’t judge: they’re just like you are/were.
8. Don’t expect sympathy, understanding or patience from anyone around you, especially from those young shits.
9. Get out more; volunteer to monitor a Happy Hour at the local VFW or some other seedy joint. It’s five o’clock somewhere.
10. Don’t take any more advice, especially from me. It’s all rot.
It does seem a crime that we should age; but, age we do, whether we like it or not. The days of James Dean’s “die young and leave a good looking corpse” have long ago proven to be simply.... lame. What we want now is to live longer, love better, run faster, jump higher, enjoy our bodies and eat/drink whatever the fuck we want!
As the country folk are fond of saying: “you’ll never get out of this world alive”. Which means: keep reading the obituaries, and when one day you find your picture in those pages… curse your friends for not letting you know sooner and catch the first flight outa here; you might cheat death yet.
One can only hope and let me know if you do. You’ve got my number.

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