Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Ageing sucks.

Not that any of you reading this hadn't come to this conclusion already, but I reiterate: ageing sucks. I've been particularly lucky, in that a combination of good genes and a credit line at Neiman Marcus has allowed me to maintain the visage of, well, less than middle age. But the signs are there- if I tried to pluck out all of the white hairs, I'd have bald spots. The knee that I dislocated in dance class in college (and if there's anything gayer than a dance-related injury, I can't think what it is at the moment) audibly clicks when I climb the stairs. It takes a lot more exercise and a lot more diet than it used to to maintain what I like to think of as a trim figure (shut up, you!). The looks from other guys are fewer and far between, and worst of all, the people at the grocery store now are firmly in the "sir" zone. Since I am not in the habit of going to Gelson's in chaps and a harness, a plain "thank you" will do, in case any checkers are reading.

I know that this is an inevitable thing: "Death Becomes Her" aside, there's no magic potion that reverses ageing (but if there is......). I also know that it's completely possible to remain engaged, happy, vivacious and active into years twice mine; as a matter of fact I will be seeing a friend of mine this weekend who is literally more than twice my age and embodies all of the above traits: a woman who met the love of her life in her 50's and at 92 is still full of vinegar and life and wonder.

On the other end of the scale, I met a couple of young boys who are staying with friends of mine. Barely 20, and really sweet: running around the country on their endless summer (really, isn't school in session now?) working where they can and generally bumming around. I spent some time with them the other day, they're lovely in that not-quite-fully-baked way that children on the edge of adulthood who are from certain families are. Nothing in life has conspired to whack them across the chops with a rolled up newspaper yet, so they look at every new thing and new person with the wide-eyed wonderment of a puppy.

I guess I am just noting that the part of me that was the puppy has been officially over. I'm not ready yet for Canine Senior, but I'm way past Puppy Chow.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

If I only had a heart........

Many of you know that I don't have the closest relationship with my siblings. I have one sister who stayed back in Massachusetts, who seems perfectly keen on never speaking to either my brother or me again. I figure that whatever reason she has for this is her reason, and I don't press- if there's some wrong that I did, since I don't know what it is, an apology would sound pretty false. My brother and I have a more cordial relationship, but we aren't excactly close. I call him or he calls me every six months or so, and we usually chat desultorally about stuff until the conversation just sort of peters out. I've always told myself that there's the family that you are born to, and then there's the family you make. I have the family that I made, and frankly, I'd rather spend holidays with them. Not to say that I never want to see my brother face to face (or, god willing, face-lift to face); we're just comfortable where we are. So it was with more of a sense of duty ("Will I look like a complete asshole if I don't make that phone call when this hurricane I vaguely heard about hits near them? Uhhhh, Yup!") that I picked up the phone and hit speed dial. Bob was there, he and his wife were fine, they were not going to evacuate. The State of Mississippi said they needn't, apparently, and since Bob volunteers for the fire department in Bay St. Louis, he also felt he'd be needed. Bob is like that- he was that way as a kid, too. He wanted to be the one to charge into the disaster and help. I was the one who wanted to charge into Bergdorf Goodman, and well, charge. After about a half an hours talk about gadgets, cars, and other stuff, he signed off with his usual "love you, Bro"

When I woke up the next day and went into work and saw the reports of the damage, I experienced something that I have never experienced before and hope never to do so again: complete blind panic. Despite the fact that my brother and I had never best buddies, and had a realtionship that was pretty much covered by twice yearly phone calls and Christmas cards, I was totally pole-axed by the idea that he and his wife could have been washed away in the storm surge. Adding hellish gloss to this was the fact that technology managed to not only fail (no phones land or cell) to alleviate my dread, but to exacerbate it (live, clickable satellite photos showing the devasted coast of Missisippi). For days I plodded through my tasks at work, staring at that stupid screen, hating everybody who was asking me to give up an atom of my precious time to focus on anything but my needs (well, more than usual, anyhoo) Hating all of the pundits from FEMA who were sitting on their asses and turning away aid. Hating (even and yet more) our President, who did his Crawford version of Nero, strumming his guitar and eating birthday cake while New Orleans flooded. I didn't want to tell anybody about it, since I honestly felt that I would burst into tears at the mention; when one of my co-workers got it out of me I almost did. Lucklily, that last day (Friday) came news from a ham radio operator that my brother and his wife were safe. I've never wanted to do pretty much anything with a ham radio operator, but if I hit the lotto, dude, I am totally buying you a car. I've even spoken to my brother, at the Ramada Inn they are in. Lost everything, but they're alive, and insured.

There's a scene in the movie "The Women" where Joan Crawford tells Norma Shearer that Joan won't be able to break up Norma's marriage without her help. (Paraphrasing)"Not because he isn't crazy about me, he let's that old-fashioned sentiment put the indian sign on him"

It certainly put the indian sign on me real good......

On the funny side, my brother always painted Bay St Louis as being the back of the Bayou- Bob always wanted to appear as down-to-earth as he could get. Having been nearly wiped off the map, I've learned a lot about the town: it's Nan-freaking-tucket with a drawl. Loads of cute shops and antebellum manses (sadly, now heavily damaged). I used to think about it practically hearing the theme from "Deliverance" in my head. As one of my friends said, "Tom, I met your Mother, and apples just don't fall that far from the tree...."

Love you, but you're busted, Bro