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There I was on TV

Octogenarian Ignominy

There I was on TV.  In an ad. Well, maybe not me, but someone of comparable age and same gender.  It's late at night.  And as usually happens as night melds into early morning, I find myself getting out of bed for a small journey to a small nearby room to engage in a common human activity, more common at 80 than at 18.  Behold, a beautiful green light shines at my destination, guiding me to it.  When said human activity is accomplished I leave the small nearby room only to turn around at a beckoning red light informing me that I need to replace my steps to close the lid lest another of a different gender responds to a similar impulse and goes to the green only to find it red, and maybe moist.

Ah, the wonderful world of octogenarians and the wonderful appliances modern genius has devised to ease us through the decade to 90 and beyond.

Like those delightful jar openers.  We have a drawer full of them.  When osteoarthritis makes a serving of bread and butter pickles akin to the quest for the Holy Grail, I wield my lance,  a device shaped like a fan with sharp teeth and leverage the jar open... that is, if I have already slammed the top on a tile floor.  Picture my request to a young store clerk to open for me a twist-open bottle of coke, explaining pitifully that I may be old but once I was a shot-putter.

How about those stair-mounted chair lifts?  Back in the day when I made my home communion rounds, I noted their convenience for shut-ins, so I'll not make fun of them.  But the ads promoting them, they set me off every time fuming to Barbara about the actors, the way they carry themselves and speak, oh so very cutesy, like an adorable Grandpa Kettle.  And they're the same age I am!  I have told Barbara that if she ever finds me playing the part of a cutesy old man she should shoot me. 

Then there is the unceasing barrage of mailers, to buy the latest hearing aid, or enter a senior residence.  They have been filling my mail basket since I was 55 and have consumed a forest of trees since then. Yes, yes, I do ask people more often than I would like to admit to repeat themselves.  And yes, yes, senior housing may someday be in our future; but, for Bob's sake and heaven's too, can't we be spared a decade more in our own house seeing that we never owned one until I was 70?

And those TV ad pot-bellied purveyors of reverse mortgages, who claim this provision for a loan for seniors was inspired by Ronald Reagan and the financial product doesn't cost a thing. But in Reagan's name current politicians warn about the national debt, that we are spending our grandchildren's inheritance.  Come on, Fred and The Fonz, which is it, free lunch or immoral spending?  Just because I'm in my ninth decade doesn't mean I've abandoned my mathematical skills and my instinct for smelling a scam, even if it's legal. 

The other day at the doctor's office for my annual check-up the nurse had me stand on the scale to take my weight and measure my height (each of which has considerably diminished).  The scale was a trifle wobbly.  The nurse ever so gently braced me with her hand.  I ever so gently reached around and removed that hand.  Consideration is admirable, true, true; but sometimes it can be perceived as condescension.  Like I have been heard to exclaim to those who generously seek to help me in my age, like bending over to pick up the keys I've dropped: "I may be old, but I'm not weak?"

Ah, well, it's never been easy.  Early on in my beginning as a pastor, some congregants caviled that I was too young.  Then the 1960's arrived and the Baby Boomer generation made it painfully clear that anyone over 30 was as good as dead.  Toward the end of my 49th year leading a church, a few people countered me, when I was facing mandatory retirement and trying to convince myself the church militant needed me, that for Bob Howard it was time to go.

But traffic lights on the toilet seat?  That's an insulting consideration too far!




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