Tahlequah Daily Press


March 16, 2012

Win some, lose some, and lose more as you age

TAHLEQUAH — There are a lot of aspects of getting old that I find despicable. Come to think of it, just about any aspect is despicable.

We see commercials on TV with women like Diane Keaton and Diane Lane, hawking wrinkle cream and telling us how they’re loving their lives and their looks more than they ever have. But, let’s face it: These women looked great to begin with, and they have enough money to buy off most of their aches and pains, along with their wrinkles, until they hit 80 or so. By then, it might not matter, because they might not remember what they look like or feel like, or why it should matter.

I started posting occasional tidbits on Facebook for my fellow members of the “Half-Century Club” – that is, those of my friends who have ridden the lift to 50, topped the peak, and are now on the downhill slope. Among these “Pearls of Wisdom” are an admonishment to wear a diaper if you plan to laugh too hard or sneeze too often; a reminder to look on your head before you accuse someone of stealing your glasses; and an observation that using color on your hair might cover the gray, but it won’t smooth out the kink.

I think the loss of memory and the tendency to misplace things bothers me more than wrinkles. I’ve been told by various people, when I complain about my occasional forgetfulness, that I should chalk it up to being so busy. I appreciate their generosity and respect their optimism, but at this point, I can no longer blame my chosen career path. I am, as they used to say in polite circles, “getting on.”

Normally this memory problem is confined to occasionally forgetting my thumb drive, which I’ll need at the office, at home. And like anyone else, I would forget appointments and due bills if I didn’t write them down in my planner. Of course, it doesn’t help much when you forget to look at your planner.

The other day, I had a lapse that was especially troubling when I was looking for my “pica poll.” This is a metal ruler, gradated in both inches and a unit of measure known as a “pica.” Now that everything’s done on computers, pica polls have become obsolete as a measurement tool, as have “proportion wheels” for sizing photos. But I hang onto my pica poll for sentimental reasons, and besides, it still makes a good straight-edge.

I started trying to remember the last time I had seen the poll. I decided I may have left it up front when I was measuring copy so I could pay our stringers. Then I wondered who might have “borrowed” it and failed to return it. Probably someone ELSE in the Half-Century Club, I thought – which in our office, narrows the field to about four suspects, including myself. Moments later, I realized “myself” was the guilty party when I looked down and saw the thing in my hand.

The only comfort I derive from this situation is the knowledge that my husband misplaces things more often than I do. I’ve often thought about putting a sign on the door so he’ll see it every morning. It would say: Did you remember... Your keys? Your cell phone? Your glasses? Your wallet? Any paperwork for the office?

The only problem is, sometimes he goes out another door. Also, he would view it as an attack on his dignity, and might become annoyed. So the question is, would I rather suffer a temporarily wrathful reaction to my snide signage, or be accused of forgetting to remind him to pick up his glasses, wallet, keys, phone, etc.?

Worse yet, I could face the criminal allegation of “moving stuff.” There’s always something my husband can’t find, and when he can’t find something, it’s because someone else “moved it.” Since our son, Cole, has been away at OU for a few years, if something’s been “moved,” I must be the one who moved it. He has tried on a few occasions to blame the cat, but since the animal doesn’t have opposable thumbs, the charge doesn’t stand up to scrutiny – unless the elusive item happens to be a rope with a monkey’s paw knot.

In the past few years, the accusation has evolved from “moving stuff,” which implies a deliberate act designed to inconvenience the owner of the missing object. Now, he’s employing a kinder, gentler phrase that suggests oversight or accident: “You covered it up.” This will not make sense to many of you, but you have not seen the state of our home. It is indeed likely that if something can’t be found, it’s because it has been inadvertently “covered up” by something else.

Lost keys and glasses, however, can be replaced. Lost Thunder tickets are quite another matter.

We had four Thunder tickets, and we offered two to my son and his girlfriend. We drove to Norman and picked up the youngsters, then went into the city. We stopped first at a store, and then went to a restaurant. Afterward, we headed to the Chesapeake Energy Arena, paid the $10 for parking, found a space – and couldn’t find the tickets. My son immediately fell into the crosshairs, because he was “last seen” with the tickets, which he’d been looking at before putting them on the console.

We got out of the truck, which is about as messy as our house, and began rummaging for the tickets – and it was raining. My husband, who is Italian, began the requisite yelling. “That’s it! Forget it! They’re GONE!” he hollered several times. After a 10-minute exercise in futility, my husband concluded my son had let the tickets fall to the floor and had kicked them out of the truck. So we returned to the store and trolled the parking lot; then we went back to the restaurant, where my son scanned the lot before he went inside, presumably to ask around – as if anyone who found four well-positioned Thunder tickets would happily return them.

I began to methodically go over the sequence of the evening’s events, and finally said, “None of this makes sense. Those tickets have to be in this truck somewhere.” Right then, my husband spotted the stubs, which were in one strip, folded four ways – just a teeny corner was sticking out from between my seat and the belt buckle. We had felt around there several times and even peered down there with a flashlight, but had somehow missed them.

So we went back to the arena, dropped off the youngsters, and went a few blocks to the ATM to get more money for the parking lot. By the time we got back, no one was collecting money, so we just parked and went in to catch the second half. At least the Thunder won, they had Mr. Pibb at the concession stand, and my son caught one of the T-shirts they dropped in little parachutes from the rafters.

All’s well that ends well – or at least, it was that way Saturday night. But here in a day or two, something else will turn up missing, and the vicious cycle – one known to everyone, but particularly to those over 50 – will begin anew.

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