Editor’s Note: I wrote an article about being “too old for this stuff” years back. Funny how that works. I was feeling old back then, and now I’d give up my big toe to be that young again, and, I suppose, if I live that long, someday, I’ll be viewing this age as not so bad. It’s all relative. (But, past a certain age, it all sucks.)
One problem with old people is how surly and disagreeable we can be. One after another, my elders (including my own mother), and some not so elderly (you know who you are), went from affable middle age to grouchy senior citizen. Now that I’m old myself, even my once-congenial disposition has curdled.
These days, we Medicare card holders spend too much time discussing our ailments. We gripe about the things we’re forced to do (pills, injections, blood tests), the things we can’t do (too numerous to enumerate), and the things we no longer care about doing (fill in the blank), as well as symptoms that may or may not portend the impending soil siesta.
At this point, most of the good stuff (e.g., “first times” and “best days”) has moved into the rear-view mirror, and the horizon doesn’t look all that beckoning. I’ve realized most of the left-over “bucket list” items wouldn’t be as enjoyable for an old guy, and why risk hurting myself? Meanwhile, the traditional curmudgeon activities — chasing kids off my front lawn, or going to protests waving signs, while shouting at passing cars — demand more energy than I’d care to expend.
In this election year, it’s pointless to keep my hearing aid batteries charged, because I don’t need all that noise. It’s like the music kids are listening to these days, which hurts my ears. Trump and his acolytes are skillfully fabricating what political comic Bill Maher has accurately labeled a “slow-moving, right-wing coup,” as the Democrats form a circular firing squad, jostling for position to shoot each other in the foot.
Mike Bloomberg hadn’t even entered his first debate, when liberals began calling him a racist for his past use of “stop and frisk,” as if he were a white supremacist sympathizer like our president. You’d think the mayor had done it maliciously, rather than to reduce crime. And, while the country probably isn’t ready for a gay president anyway, LGBTQ activists hinted Mayor Pete wasn’t “gay enough.” The sound and fury in my hearing aids make me think I may not be deaf enough.
The airwaves reverberate with nonsense. From the Left, I keep hearing that, if only more voters turned out, we’d win. What makes anyone think the vast plurality of nonvoters is on our side? For all I know, most of them are right-wing fanatics. There has even been talk of lowering the voting age to grow the electorate. This is a colossally bad idea: I taught college sophomores for eight years, and the average teenager couldn’t pick out the United States on a map … of the United States.
Meanwhile, the Right is “beating the dead horse” of the repeatedly debunked specter of “voter fraud.” This “GOP-speak” is aimed at justifying voter suppression — a mainstay of conservative electioneering since minorities first gained civil rights. I’m as sick of hearing about “voter fraud” as I am of the phrase “religious freedom” — conservative Christian code for their freedom to force their faith down our throats. But I’m also too old to get excited by militant secularists’ rants about “freedom from religion,” which ignites indignation when volunteer fire departments put creches on their firehouses at Christmas.
I’m equally tired of hearing how the Constitution has established the U.S. as a “Christian nation.” It hasn’t, and we aren’t; however, the Constitution never mentions “separation of church and state” either, so, while it’s an admirable principle, secularists should stop saying that it does. Of course, this doesn’t mean we should emulate the anointed and adulterated crusader in the White House, who wouldn’t know a Colossian from a Corinthian, yet somehow takes credit for making it safe to pray in school and say “Merry Christmas” again. Cultists set a low threshold for heroism.
Over the years, I’ve also grown sick of sports “heroes.” As a lifelong L.A. Lakers fan, I admired Kobe Bryant’s skills and athleticism, but he may also have been a rapist who ruined an innocent girl’s life. As was the case with Ray Lewis, Ben Rothlisberger, and other rich, popular and powerful heroes with expensive legal teams, we’ll never know the truth about their alleged crimes. And, in our sports-crazed country, even stars as loathsome as convicted dog torturer Michael Vick benefit from lucrative comebacks.
Can we also stop overusing the term “genius”? Guys whose major talent is rapidly speaking in rhyme over a rhythm track (think Kanye West or Snoop Dogg) are today’s Shakespeare and Mozart. And the number of televised award shows indicates how much our celebrity geniuses and heroes love patting themselves and each other on the back.
I’ve lived too long, read too many history books and seen one too many elections to fall for the jingoistic pride of American exceptionalism. We act like we invented freedom, and battling socialism makes us its last defenders. When the Right warns of the dangers of socialism — failing to mention we’ve been socialists since FDR, and democratic socialist countries like Norway and Denmark are consistently ranked the happiest nations on earth — I’m reminded of Danny Glover’s line from the “Lethal Weapon” movies: “I’m too old for this s**t.”
And, finally, I’m now too curmudgeonly to help fund my own state’s budget by buying lottery tickets. After a lifetime of being preached at, I still have no idea whether there’s a God, but if He exists, history shows He has a mean streak and a perverse, ironic sense of humor. It would be just like Him to let me win the lottery when I’m too old to enjoy it.
The only thing left that could make me truly happy is my youth, which, sadly, isn’t for sale for any amount of money. Oh, and, by the way, if I hear the phrase “68 years young” once more, someone’s getting hit over the head with an aluminum walker.
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