Saturday, April 6, 2013

He's Old Now

April 6, 2013




You can't help getting older, but you don't have to get old.

(George Burns)

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Hello Val

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About 35 years ago I was directing a production of "The Fantasticks" for a high school in New Hampshire. There is a line in the show which is spoken by the boy about his girl friend. "She makes me young again." The student playing the part kept on saying "She makes me feel young again." That was cute, but not as funny as the correct line, especially coming from the mouth of a high school boy. After several futile attempts to get him to remember to speak the line properly, I told the following true story.



While I lived in New Hampshire I very much enjoyed hiking in the White Mountains. One group is called the Moat Range, North, Middle and South Moat mountains. I was hiking up Middle Moat one day in early Autumn. I had my shirt off, tucked into my belt, and had my back pack on my shoulders. I was feeling good.



The timber line for the mountain is very near the base, so it's mainly hiking up rocky slopes. Up ahead I saws two people coming down. It's not unusual to see others on those mountains. As they approached I saw that they were two teenage girls. We nodded to each other as they passed. One was talking to the other about a boy she knew and I heard her say "Well, I still see him, but he's old now, he's almost twenty."



I resisted the temptation to turn around and give her a lecture on oldness.



After I had told the story I asked the actor his age. When he said he was 18 I said "Oh, my God, you're almost 20. You're old. You past your prime. You're all rusted out. It's all down hill from here. You're old." We all got a laugh over it and I then asked him "What does she do for you?" He replied "She makes med young again." He never messed up the line after that.



I was 4 years old when my father died. He was 52. I grew up thinking 52 was old until I crossed that line myself. Now, more than 20 years later, I'm what's known as a "Senior Citizen" which is a euphemistic term for an old man, aged, past my prime, rusted out, headed down hill. The only problem is I don't feel old. There are parts of me that don't work as well as I would like, but some of those parts weren't working so well anyway.



The hardest part of my senior citizenship is isolation, loneliness. I don't like where I live, hove no local friends I can visit, and I don't have things to do. I spent my working life as an actor. Theatre is collaborative art form. There were always interesting people around working with me. The atmosphere was vital, creative and shimmering with ideas. So how did I end up living next to a parking lot, in a town with no conveniences near me, no friends to visit, in a place where I can't have the life I used to have and want again? Don't ask.



I guess it's time to take off my shirt, put my back pack on my shoulders and start climbing. Who knows, I may meet a couple of chatty teenage girls along the way. That sure would liven up my senioristic self.

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Dana Bate

Vagabond Journeys

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Never Give Up

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3 comments:

Geo. said...

Eloquent and enjoyable memoir, DB. I read it aloud to Norma and she quite liked it.

Jon said...

I can completely relate to this. I remember when I was a young teen and thought 25 was ancient. When I was 25 I thought 30 was ancient.....and so it goes, on and on. I'm growing old but I still feel young.

Much like you, I am presently living in a place that I hate, completely isolated from friend and relatives. My life is so different from what it used to be.

bakelite buffoon said...

Thanks. You made me young again :)