I grew up with the notion that you had to “Respect your elders”. I try to make sure that any interaction I have with folks older than me is courteous, and that I smile and listen to what they have to say. I don’t think that “older equals wiser” but that it is your duty to show respect to people who’ve been here longer than you.
One day it will be my turn to geeze and I expect the same from future generations.
I’ve learned that many geezers have actually accumulated some knowledge along the way. Surprisingly, those who have survived planet earth for more than seventy years have not always done it by chance, but by their wits.
When we see shriveled, hunched bodies scuttling along – we seldom think about how that person got to be that way. We want them out of the way – they walk slow. We don’t want to interact – they might not hear us well and we have to repeat or speak really loud. We fear we may someday be like them, not realizing we would have achieved something to be old enough to be hunched and shriveled.
What we really should do is take a few minutes to interact. Ask them just a question or two and actually listen. That treasure dude would have never known about that big-ass diamond that the chick lost on the Titanic if we didn’t have to sit through 3 and a half hours of her, as a hundred year old senile bat, blathering on about her sexual infidelity as a young hottie.
I don’t know where this is going but I wanted to tell you this lil quip that Wally from the gym spat out last night.
For quite a while Michele and I would see this guy at the gym. About 90 pounds, soaking wet with rocks in his pocket, he gets on the treadmill at the slowest setting. Then pauses every two seconds to catch up. Then he saunters over to different pieces of equipment, stopping at each one and reading little folded pieces of paper for about five minutes before he does 30 seconds of exercise.
The smart ass in me just can’t help but make comments about this little nebbish, throwing him under the comic bus. Easy pickin’s. I know I shouldn’t, but I’m not a good person. I wonder why he comes to the gym at all. He could get as much exercise walking to the kitchen and opening a can of soup.
A month or two ago I look across the way to the girl corner (where they have the pink weights and those bouncy balls) and there’s my wife, chatting with the little dinosaur, who’s sitting on a bouncy ball.
I ended up going over and getting introduced to Wally. He used to work in the Pentagon and having lived for decades in D.C. was going on with Michele about how it used to be, the things that have changed, etc…
So now every time we see him, we spend a few minutes talking. It makes him feel better and we learn a thing or two. I get the feeling he is really really old, but he has never disclosed how old. I wonder what exactly he did in the Pentagon. He said he was a statistician. Was he maybe a spy? Did he decode Nazi secrets? Maybe he’s a trained killer. Maybe he kept statistics.
I wonder if he’s in bad shape for a 70 year old or exceptional condition for a guy over a hundred. Michele and I keep listening to references of years and trying to deduce his age.
He told us once about the first time he was rejected from getting “student price” tickets. It was at the World’s Fair. He was 24. He smiled slyly and said – “But I won’t tell you what city!”
So last night we were chit chatting about the size of Taft’s bathtub; how popular he was for being so big while everybody else was starving and how it was considered good health back then and how today it’s despised when Wally said, “That’s my memories, but it’s ancient history to you two.”
Michele -hoping to trick him into saying his birth year- said, “That was before we were born. I was born in 68 and he was in 64”, pointing at me.
“I remember when I was 64 and 68″, said Wally, “But that’s ancient history to me.”