Kid at the gym tries to bust my balls again by telling me I am old and out of shape.
I nod my head and say if he is measuring my physical fitness I am not where I want to be or used to be adding that I have high standards.
“Old man, if you were single today you’d be hard pressed to find a lady.”
I laugh and say he is right and watch him try to not allow me to deflate him by not taking his bait.
He takes another swipe or two at me and I tell him in any era I am confident about my ability to find a woman who wants to be my girl.
“Don’t you read, women don’t like being called girls now.”
“I don’t read, I just walk up, grab them by the hair and pull them back to my cave. It is surprisingly effective.”
“Sounds surprisingly rapey too.”
“Maybe, but if you had my experience you’d know that some women want to be your girl. Helps when they have had a little life experience, but you don’t know about that yet.”
He snaps at me that I don’t know his whole life and I ask him what he has been through that is hard.
“Been in the service? You a cop, EMT or fireman? Got a kid?”
He shakes his head and I repeat his line about just busting his balls and he takes another swipe at me.
“You probably can’t get it up any more.”
“You’re probably right, Viagara loves me. You can’t handle me, let it go.”
The last part comes with an unexpected edge and I realize I really am done with him.
Later on I share some of the story with my teenage son and tell him that sometimes agreeing with the insults is a way to defuse the situation.
“Doesn’t always work but sometimes you can flip things on their head by smiling and agreeing. If they don’t get a reaction they get bored.”
He nods his head and asks if he managed to get to me.
“I thought about it and I don’t think so. I got pissed off with myself, with having to adjust my workout. Sometimes this aging thing is tough and I get frustrated that I can’t do what I have always done, but I don’t let that stop me or linger.
You didn’t ask, but I fear losing my mental edge far more than physical. I don’t like or want either, but as long as I retain my mental faculties I can figure things out.”
I don’t ask anyone to hit the local hardware store with me because I have professional and personal reasons to be there and don’t want to be rushed.
This trip involves moving down every aisle in the store and includes a 10 minute conversation with a guy who is converting the lights in his house to LED.
I give him a quick lesson on bases, color temperature and thoughts about which and what to put throughout his house.
He tells me I ought to wear my apron and I say it is easier to move through while playing civilian.
Midway through my visit an associate asks if he can help me and I tell him I need to pick up a new door sweep and can he tell me where they are at.
He laughs and says I am there to my left and I laugh too, “guess I ought to open my eyes.”
It leads to a brief conversation in which he tells me he is a retired Lt. Colonel, Marines and I say I am a civilian from LA hoping to be retired one day.
We share a few more stories, shake hands and I take a few items to the self check out line so that I can take care of some maintenance stuff around the house.
A few hours later I sit on my couch and silently thank my dad for teaching me how to do a few things feeling the satisfaction you only get from using your hands.
Later I’ll show my son what I did, explain how I did it and tell him he got lucky.
“Because I should have made you do it with me, it is a better way to learn but I needed to work a few things out and decided I wanted to do it myself.”
He nods his head, says he understands and I know he gets this piece of me.
There is a lot going on and most of it is stuff I keep to myself because there are few I trust with this and fewer who are willing to listen.
He hears me mutter ‘I am a rock, I am an island’ and I smile and tell him song lyrics.
“You know the beauty of life is living it. You can ease on down the road, but only if you’re willing to walk.
Don’t be afraid to take a risk or make changes.”
I posted a picture of my folks and I on Facebook the other day because mom’s hair reminded me a bit of the queen’s.
But one of the things I noticed is my dad’s hand holding me up and remembering how big they used to look.
I’m about a year in the photo which is what made me think of it because the size of his hand compared to my small body is striking.
It is a far cry from the photo above in which our hands are about equal in size.
Dad’s hands were how I measured my growth, far more than my desire to match and exceed his height.
I thought about his hands a bit while working on a project tonight.
He had a softer touch than I did and for years he would remind me to be gentler so I didn’t over tighten screws or break this widget or that.
I think I have gotten pretty good about that.
The kid at the gym approaches me but this time he is much softer in his approach.
He asks me a question and I tell him when you love that girl you’ll know.
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah, when you really do, you know.”
“So what do I do about that?”
“Well, that is a question that the very lucky among us get to ask.”
“Do you have an answer?”