Today I have become an official and bona fide Old Man–no more pretense of youth. Somehow in today’s mangling of the English language, the word “older” has come to mean “less old than old.” So maybe for a few years I could get away with being “older.”
But no–I am now old, and I mean to make the most of it. And having long watched The Last of the Summer Wine and Waiting for God, these classic British sitcoms have taught me exactly what to do, to make that second childhood as much fun as the first. Maybe more fun: I don’t have to go to school, and no one can make me eat cauliflower.
Yes, I know old age is not all fricasseed frogs and eel stew. For one thing, by now most of the people I have known and loved have gone before me, and almost all of the places that I’ve known and loved have been torn down, wiped out, paved over as if they never were. Like maybe I just dreamed them.
I don’t expect ever to retire. Writers don’t. Anyway, it took me so flaming long to reach the point of actually being a writer, I still feel like I’ve only just gotten started.
Who knows? The way things are going with my country, I may yet get arrested for failing to “celebrate” a same-sex parody of marriage, or the unspeakable crime of Climate Change Denial (which is so insulting to those smart people who know what’s best for us!), or praying.
Near the end of his life, the philosopher and former lawgiver, Solon, saw his home city of Athens fall to a dictatorship. So Solon opposed the dictator, loudly and energetically: which made his friends worry about his future. “Don’t you know that dictator is a dangerous man?” they asked. “What gives you the courage to oppose him?”
“Old age,” answered Solon.
May it be so for all of us–because it may be a long, long time before the younger folks can wipe the sleepers from their eyes.