• Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Birthdays used to be a really big deal.
I figure itís because back when I was a kid we didnít have that many of them, a handful at best. They were special.
Now, like gum, we have enough for everybody and birthdays become just another day. Still special to a degree, but not the event they used to be. Birthdays nowadays are days you stop and go, oh yeah, itís my birthday, then move on to the next item on your checklist.
Iíve got 55 birthdays. Iím the double nickel. Thatís a lot of candles.
Iím also officially a senior. I canít officially react with outrage anymore when I get the Life Alert solicitation phone call. ďYou donít want to be alone in the event of an emergency,Ē the friendly lady on the phone would tell me. ďWhat if you fall?Ē
They donít know how many times I actually fall, or do something stupid that would require the pressing of the Life Alert button. Those Life Alert representatives and I would be on a first name basis. I can hear the conversation now.
ďDanÖ you canít keep pressing the button.Ē
ďBut itís an emergency.Ē
ďBeing lonely does not qualify as an emergency.Ē
ďIím not really lonely because I really donít like people all that much. Iím bored.Ē
ďNeither is being bored an emergency.Ē
ďBut Iíve fallen and I canít get up.Ē
ďDanÖ you fell off the couch. That doesnít qualify even as a fall really. Itís more like rolling over.Ē
Getting Life Alert would give me that false sense of careless confidence. Iíd stop paying attention to things like how many steps I have left to descend, and given my chronic ADD Iíd already be heading off for the kitchen, yet Iíd still have four or five steps still to go.
Those arenít falls so much as step-skiing.
Iíve done that a lot. You skid down a half a dozen or so steps, not really flying and not really falling with style. You just end up at the bottom not really sure how you got there.
I did that down a flight of about 20 concrete steps holding two big canvas bags of radio equipment. I didnít fall per se, but instead rode the two canvas bags down those steps like a makeshift bobsled. I felt very Olympian.
Being 55 now, Iíve become that curmudgeonly old man that everybody crosses the street to avoid because somewhere in the conversation heíll ask you to pull his finger.
Iím not quite into the whole ďPull My FingerĒ gag because there is a line drawn somewhere in the sand designating what is or isnít good taste, and while I often smudge that line to a nearly indiscernible smear, I am aware of my boundaries.
Iím old. I have white hair, and I mean really white hair. Itís been suggested on more than one occasion that I grow a beard and play Santa Claus. Imagine me playing Santa Claus. Not pretty.
I donít like crowds, remember? And here would be a crowd strung down to JC Penneyís, with kids attached, all here to see me. The humanity of it, I couldnít stand the attention.
All that smiling and being friendly Ö my face would hurt. Or it would freeze that way.
What would I look like with a smile permanently frozen on my face? Iíd look happyÖ
And we canít have that. People would think something was wrong.
And call Life Alert.

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