Sixteen Candles…And Counting (Bust Out The Fire Extinguisher, Granma!)

I used to love all those “coming of age” movies;  Molly Ringwald, Anna Chlumsky, the whole Breakfast Club.  But for some reason I haven’t seen many lately. Is it possible they are not being made anymore, or is the more likely explanation that they no longer appeal to me so they aren’t “in my radar”?  And anyway who said those movies have to be about some cute/dorky/pre-pubescent angst-ridden pre-teen.   They have it all wrong.  I have had many of those ‘coming of age’ experiences my whole life. Let me tell you what the real one is…the first time you use your Medicare card at the doctors. Especially if you happen to be standing next to an obvious octogenarian. Especially if you think you don’t look your age.

I turned 65 this year, a blessing in disguise because I finally have insurance and can now see a doctor without selling a grandchild first. Kidneys aren’t an option at this age. However, you haven’t ‘come of age‘ until you pull out a card that by it’s very ownership states that you are without question never going to be asked for proof of age again in your life.  You will never have to show ID to get into an adults only club, or to buy cigarettes.  Never will I talk one of my older (!) friends into getting me a bottle of vodka because I’m not old enough…sigh.  In all reality I haven’t had to do this for decades, but this makes it so…final. So as I sat looking at ancient magazines and waiting for the doctor I looked around at the other patients.  I tried to imagine them as young Molly Ringwalds, and Harrison Fords and just couldn’t.  I was seeing The Graduate but from Mrs. Robinsons point of view!

The one thing that all those movies had in common was the hero or heroine suddenly realizes how drastically and irrevocably their life has changed. No going back now Chris Chambers.  Now the reality hits you; no matter how much you diet, exercise, floss or botox you will never again be that ingenue`. This is the moment where life hits you square between the eyes like this and says “Yes, by god, you are old!” Never mind that most of my friends are younger than me; they are catching up quickly. And it doesn’t matter that I ride a honkin’ big Harley; I only ride in nice weather…so yes the age is showing, sadly.  So to all of you who have not yet reached that decrepit magical age that is Medicare, you have one more coming of age to look forward to…

And as I sit here wondering how my life had got so far, so fast and where did all the time go; I realize I always played it safe, played by the rules and respected my elders.  The words of Ben Braddock (The Graduate) came to mind, “It’s like I was playing some kind of game, but the rules don’t make any sense to me. They’re being made up by all the wrong people. I mean no one makes them up. They seem to make themselves up.”  And there and then I decided that in this the third act of my life, I was going to raise a little more hell, be a little bit irreverent and generally go out kicking if at all possible.  Maybe I will get another tattoo…I just hope my family takes it with grace and understanding, knowing me well enough to see that I am only rebelling and not going senile.  No my dear grandchild you don’t need to have me committed.  I have no wish to re-enact “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest”.


It’s 2 AM…Last Call…

….So, yeah I have been getting pestered lately about not having a new post. What can I say, the Muse has deserted me , fled in the night.  Hoping to kick start the process I wandered into the local bar/slash biker hang out looking for inspiration, or at least entertainment. This place is really a dive-you know the kind. Kept dark so you can’t see the roaches skittering between the tables, acting as tiny busboys on the cheesy vinyl table-tops. Food…well if you are brave enough one of the bartenders will slap together a greasy sandwich and toss it your way.  Or there are always the tidbits in the bowls at the bar.  But do you really know what those crunchy things are that you are biting into?

The patrons of the establishment are right out of “central casting” (“send over 8 extras to work in the bar scene”) down to the writer in the corner gathering material. The men were all casting a hungry eye toward any female that walked through the door.  Each was clad in jeans that hadn’t seen a Maytag in months…baggy in the rear and dragging at the heels.  That was where the uniformity ended…the shirts were a mash-up of tight t-shirts with adverts for their favorite defunct band or patterns that were popular in the 80’s straining at the buttons over the waist.  Greasy hair of an indeterminate color and unshaven, scruffy faces finished their look. Yep, real keepers, everyone of them!  Most were working on a pretty good buzz; easy enough to spot as soon as they tried out their pick-up lines with the women, words slurring and volume loud.

The women! Ah, what can I say but that they were a perfect match for these guys. eHarmony couldn’t have done better. Aging nymphs, wrinkled and bleached, apparently without a single mirror in their home, or at least one that told the truth. As they prowled through the door they were scanning the scene for a leading man. Alas, there are none, only two-bit character actors fooled into thinking they might catch the ingenue`when in reality they, if lucky, will win the consolation prize of the chain-smoking withered cougar. And both will fool themselves for one night, waking with regret in the morning.

Overseeing and orchestrating this whole play were the two bartenders, one guy, gay but still in the closet, so of course all the women flirted with him totally unaware of the futility of their efforts. One gal, long past her prime, but still sharp and able to talk rings around the stool jockeys.  She could insult them, putting them in their place and they would still tip her!  She had a couple years of community college, just enough to make her look like she was “uptown” and these jokers didn’t know the difference.  Together this dynamic duo slogged through the night making boiler-makers for the guys and whiskey sours for the women, hoping that tips at nights end would see them through one more week.

And I, silently watching from a darkened booth, scribbling bits of observation as I gloweringly rebuffed glances that happened my way. What story would I glean from this? What made these people any different from the freshly scrubbed wholesome couples at Olive Garden? After a few Mojito’s (said to be Hemingways favorite) I realized that I was never going to pen The Old Man And The Sea sitting here. I also realized that these people were not, in fact, any different from all the other swarms of people trying to connect in the wee small hours of the morning. Everyone was looking for human contact, a way to validate their existence on earth.  So with that thought amplified to importance by the alcohol in my brain I bid adieu to the last act and exited by stage left.

As I walked back up the street littered with glass from broken street lights, I realized I still hadn’t come up with a story.  What excuse could I give other than lack of inspiration? And then I remembered my friend Harry had said….”Why don’t you try fiction?”




***Those of you who know me have already realized this as a total work of fiction.