Friday, May 14, 2010

What a Drag It Is Getting Old

Sometimes I feel old. Sometimes I feel like I'm 28. I don't really know why 28 is the age I project but I do. But the fact of the matter is, I'm 43 now. I have all the aches and pains associated with being that age.

On the day I turned 40 (and I'm not exaggerating here) I could no longer read the birthdate on a driver's license while wearing contacts. Bad news if you're in the bar business. I was relegated to using reading glasses. I didn't like it much. Made me feel old.

My hair gets more and more gray and it seems I never notice it until I get a haircut. What was once a dark brown changed to half brown/half gray, and I fear is now well past 50-50 and working its way toward the silver that was my Grandfather's hair. Except that his never fell out. At least I know I've earned my gray hairs. Having twins, running a bar, being married to a woman... all of this earns the gray.

From the Weaver side of the family, I got this male pattern baldness that leaves the back and sides nice and thick, while the hairline recedes. But this recession is not graceful, no. There's a thatch of hair right on top that poofs up an demands attention. Right behind that is a line of shiny, shiny scalp. To top it all off, I've got a wicked scar which is becoming more visible as time goes on. Drunken horseshoe game... 'nuff said.

I've always heard the oldtimers talk about their knees aching when it was going to rain, and I never knew whether to believe them or not, but now, I know. I blew up an ankle playing soccer in college and it is in a constant state of swelling. I can tell you two days before it's going to rain. The winter is worse, though.

For years I played volleyball four or five nights a week. Being a big guy, my knees took a pounding. I have no cartilage left. When I walk up stairs it sounds like they're covered in Rice Krispies. In the winter, they ache any time there's a front moving in. Doesn't matter if it's a warm front or a cold front, my knees ache.

My hands hurt and I don't know why. I could understand if I'd come up through the Golden Gloves, or worked the docks as a longshoreman, but this can't be anything but an old journalism injury from back in the days when cutting and pasting required an X-acto knife and hot wax. I know I'm stretching with it being a journalism injury, but it's really all I've got to explain why my hands hurt. Plus, it's kind of funny.
I've noticed too, that physical lamentations aren't the only thing I can associate with getting older. Never one to be secretive about how I feel (please read "Why I'm an Asshole" if you need a refresher), I now have zero tolerance for stupidity. There is no leeway here. If you're an idiot, I'll tell you that you're an idiot, why you're an idiot and exactly what you should do to remedy the situation. Usually that begins with getting the hell away from me.

There's no end to the myriad of ways people can piss me off these days. From the poker table ("Why did you play that? Ya moron!") to the highway (Slow drivers piss me off. Fast drivers piss me off.) to stupid changes (Don't get me started on red light cameras) to the political climate ("Nothing good ever came from a Republican. I only pull one lever when I vote.") I'm Archie Bunker without the bigotry.

I'm more interested in the Weather Channel these days. I notice I've been alive for more events depicted on the History Channel. I'm getting more disenchanted with TV. Do we really need to know about the real lives of housewives anywhere in the country? Especially bitchy, rich housewives?

I hate listening to the radio now because I usually can't stand new music and Van Halen is now on the oldies station. And not the cool station that plays older stuff... the oldies station that used to play songs from the 50s and 60s but changed format because their audience was diminishing. I did recently come across a station in KC that calls itself "Gen X Radio," which is great, but I get a lot of odd looks from kids when I'm blasting "Evenflow" and an ad for Flow Max immediately follows.

Yes, it sucks getting older. The little aches and pains are to be expected. I just wish my ankles wouldn't crack so loud when I get up to pee in the middle of the night. It's not so bad at 1:15 and 3:05, but at 4:30 I'm afraid it will wake the boys.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Mother's Day Diatribe

I write, so I'm kind of anti-Hallmark most of the time. I think it has something to do with the fact that I keep applying for jobs there and I never get interviewed. I've heard it's a cult anyway.

So today is Mother's Day and I'm trying to write a poem for my Mom. There's really not a Hallmark card that I would say represents my Mom very well because she's not like the Moms described in the lacy, gauzy cards. I thought I'd write a few different styles because it would be funny.

There once was a woman named Shirley

I'll stop there. There aren't many words that rhyme with Shirley. A limerick is supposed to be funny, and "burly" lends itself to being funny, but Mom has lost some weight over the past year, so it doesn't really fit. Besides, I don't really want to write anything that would make her mad. First of all, I don't want to embarrass her and secondly, I don't want to get my ass kicked.

Drops of wisdom fall
We catch them in our bucket
Makes life easier 

Haiku are supposed to be non-sequitor. Check. They follow a certain syntax. 5-7-5... Check. But like limericks, as a rule haiku suck unless they're funny, and to be funny, they have be dirty. Again, I don't want to get my ass kicked.

Traditional verse 
Mom, you have always been there for us 
Although I didn't always like what you said
Sometimes she'd yell and scream and cuss
And get so mad her face would turn red

But it was out of love.

... And then I just sort of lost it because it was funny and I couldn't get back on track. The poem wasn't that good anyway. Trying to write a poem about my Mom is difficult at best. My mom is not a poetry inspiring person. My Mom isn't really the type to accept frilly praises easily. I think she gets embarrassed when people get all gushy about her. Because I don't think she really thinks she's doing anything out of the ordinary.

The Visual
Usually the visual is all wrong. Usually there's a picture of flowers against a perfectly lit window on an antique table. My Mom isn't like that. Don't get me wrong... she decorates her house, but the grandkids would tear up the flowers and antique tables aren't real sturdy and dependable. My Mom is though.

The perfect card would have to have a visual that says something you can count on in when times are difficult. She's a big Cardinals fan. I should look for a card with Hall of Fame relief pitcher Bruce Sutter on it. He'd come in in the 8th when the starter got in a jam; runners on first and third, one out. He'd get a double play ball to end the inning. Then he'd mow down three hitters in the 9th notching a win.

Not exactly common in Mother's Day card offerings.

The Gift
My Mom is hard to shop for. Really hard. She just says "Nothing" when you ask what she wants and when she needs something, she just goes out and gets it. She'd be happy with a day with her kids and grandkids. Unfortunately my family and I can't be in Wichita with her today.

Maybe I'm just making the whole process too difficult.

Just say it
My Mom is awesome. She kicked my ass when I needed it. She was there to loan me money, give advice, listen when I got my heart ripped out, and would drop everything to be here when I needed her help. I call her almost every day, even if it's just to talk about why LaRussa's screwing up by hitting the pitcher in the eight spot. Our relationship has seen some rocky times, but I'm glad to have my Mom's blood in me. She's funny, loyal, smart, stubborn, dependable and tough. I haven't always been the best son I could be, but I think she's been the best Mom I could hope for.

And for that, I am eternally grateful.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

I'm Gonna Live Forever

I've been thinking a lot about my Dad today. Not for any particular reason, but probably because I miss talking to him. I could sure use some of his counsel right about now. He had a way of putting things into perspective.

My Dad was a simple man. He always wished for the same thing on his birthday. "Health, wealth, good friends, and time to enjoy them." He liked hanging with his family. He liked being outside. He liked dogs and kids. He liked old trucks and the 57 Chevy. He told the same jokes and the same stories over and over again, although the stories sometimes involved different characters and had different endings. (My Dad was full of shit, but in a good way.)

He liked fire. He would make little fires on our back patio in a cast iron dutch oven. My Mom always was a little bit afraid he'd burn down the house. After he died, we built a fire in his smoker that stayed burning for five days. We'd gather around, drink beer and tell stories about him. I think that Dad would think that it was a right proper send off.

My brothers and I have very different personalities. I think if you ask anyone who has known us through the years and knew my Dad, they'd tell us all, "You're a lot like your father."

I can't think of a greater compliment.

We played "Live Forever" at his funeral right after I delivered the eulogy. Some say it's about religion, and that may be true; I can't say what was going through Mr. Shaver's head when he wrote it. But to me, it's about passing the right information to the next generation, and in that, leaving behind a legacy.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Thinking of You

I find myself thinking of you
when I have a moment's peace
I want to share it with you
because those moments are
few and far between these days

I find myself thinking of you
at times during the day
fleeting thoughts of your
kind eyes, your gentle laugh
and I miss you seeing you

I find myself thinking of you
even when we are home
and you are sleeping the sleep
of a tired Mom and teacher
who earns her rest every day

I find myself thinking of you
all the time, angel darlin
when we plan to have time of our own
and we can do the things
we often don't get to do.

I find myself thinking of you
when I am puzzled by life,
I don't know where I'm going,
or I don't know what to do
but I know without doubt
I'll find myself thinking of you.