Wednesday, February 19, 2014

What a Long Time Ago that IQ Tests Seemed Funny

“The pains and insults are bearable. My conversation may be full of holes and pauses, but I’ve learned to dispatch a private Apache scout ahead into the next sentence, the one coming up, to see if there are any vacant names or verbs in the landscape up there. If he sends back a warning, I’ll pause meaningfully, duh, until something else comes to mind.

“On the other hand, I’ve not yet forgotten Keats or Dick Cheney or what’s waiting for me at the dry cleaner’s today. As of right now, I’m not Christopher Hitchens or Tony Judt or Nora Ephron; I’m not dead and not yet mindless in a reliable upstate facility. Decline and disaster impend, but my thoughts don’t linger there. It shouldn’t surprise me if at this time next week I’m surrounded by family, gathered on short notice—they’re sad and shocked but also a little pissed off to be here—to help decide, after what’s happened, what’s to be done with me now. It must be this hovering knowledge, that two-ton safe swaying on a frayed rope just over my head, that makes everyone so glad to see me again. “How great you’re looking! Wow, tell me your secret!” they kindly cry when they happen upon me crossing the street or exiting a dinghy or departing an X-ray room, while the little balloon over their heads reads, ‘Holy shit—he’s still vertical!’.” 
            -    Roger Angell,  “This Old Man – Life in the nineties” 
Today, I don’t think much of my chances for being classified as fit for employment as office paperclip sorter guy, or that angry tattooed young woman at the coffee shop who passively aggressively whispers names when she calls out orders at the place where all the old deaf people stop on their way home from spin class at the Y. I might be barely fit for minding mice at crossroads as Flann O’Brien would say. I think it might be a good idea to fly my kite in a thunderstorm today, I’m feeling so dumb.
Why, you ask? Or would, if your mother had taught you any manners.

Had houseguests for three nights. They are a young man and young woman of some obscenely young adult age that amazes me. They have energy; they’re engaged, they’re always moving. They don’t seem to need naps for days on end.  They expect the meal schedule and content to bear some resemblance to a traditional routine and balanced nutritional intake. (My sister/their mother who cooks dinner is to blame for this, not me). They don’t recognize popcorn and bourbon as a balanced meal. They don’t make old people noises when standing up and sitting down. (Not sure if I count that as a plus, frankly.)

Their mother taught them good manners. They’re funny. I’d say they were cool but I’m not sure if the kids consider that an insult these days. They’re nice to be related to, and I don't get to see family often enough. They have the genetic propensity for a wicked senses of humor easily mistaken by outlaws for mild disrespect for one another.  Again, that last is possibly not a plus. But it made for an enjoyable weekend.

Then, it also turns out they’re the kind of people you would like to know even if you weren’t related. They are intelligent and informed. They converse on wide-ranging topics and with the kind of coherence I don’t otherwise hear much these days -  from people of any age.

But they left Monday. I was sorry to see them go. Really, guys.  But when they pulled out of the driveway, I didn’t even stop to update my status on FB or to roll up the sleeping bags. I tossed some stuff into the washing machine to assuage my conscience enough to let me take a nice long nap next to my kitty. So, like I said, it’s hard for me to say how sorry I was to see guys you go. But I seriously need some horizontal time.

No comments: