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Coming of Age

23 Jul

One day, oh, 14 or 15 years ago, it was really a typical day in the very strange household I “headed.”  The kids were up – four of the six that were there – along with my true wife and extra one and it was going to be a great Saturday.  Grabbed a cup of coffee, grabbed wife #1 and kissed her – and grabbed a handful of her backside; snuck up on #2 and did the same thing.  As I went to my desk to read my email, my daughter was looking at me with a really weird look, shaking her head with a wry grin on her face.

“What’s wrong with you?” I asked, typing in my password.

“Oh, nothing – congratulations, you’re a dirty old man!” she replied, unable to keep the full smile from her face.

Somehow, the jibe didn’t offend me; in fact, I felt as if I had finally reached a milestone in my life.

As the kids made their way out of the house, they said things like, “Be back later, Dom!” and went on their way.

Wife #1 asks, “Dom?  Who’s Dom?” – wife #2 has her face scrunched up into a mask of confusion.

“Oh, that’s me,” I said, turning to face them.

“Uh, they know your name isn’t Dom,” wife #2 says, rolling her green eyes.

“Oh – that short for Dirty Old Man,” I said – how I managed not to laugh remains a mystery.  “Our daughter says I’ve graduated.”

I laughed, wife #1 smiled and shook her head; wife #2 kept rolling her eyes but she was smiling as well and the day went on.

Thing is, my daughter was right about me and I’ve been a DOM ever since.  As you might imagine, it’s not in the sense that I’m roaming the streets ogling women, accosting them with lecherous stares, waggling eyebrows, and flashing them every chance I get… well, wait a minute, I do that to Linda a lot, come to think of it.  But, really, I’m not THAT kind of dirty old man, you know, the kind mothers warn their daughters about.  Oh, wait, yeah, that’s me, too – damn!  Okay, I’m not the bad type of dirty old man – how’s that?  Better?  Good – I really don’t want you to get the wrong impression about me.

I’ve worn this odd badge of honor for quite a while now – and it feels good.  Even people I’ve associated with have called me a dirty old man, mostly because of my ability to openly and shamelessly talk about things sexual.  To hear them say, “Wow, you really are a dirty old man!” wasn’t the insult it might have been for a lot of other men my age – it really did feel as if I had finally come into my own – and before I turned 40, too!

Today, at 54, I realized that I’m still the honorable dirty old man, with sex on my mind a lot and all with good intentions.  And I laughed softly to myself as the thought crossed my mind – then I opened WordPress and started telling you about it.  It’s probably not as funny as it was years ago but the feeling is pretty much the same; not exactly burning like a bonfire but more like a nicely banked fire, still very hot but just… nice.  I’ve been aware of this feeling since I got “promoted” – I shudder to think what I was before I did – and no matter what’s been going on with me, I’ve always felt the heat within me, never too hot, never too cool… just nice.

Remembering my “graduation” brings a flood of memories to mind, things I’m relieved to know I can recall; after my stroke, I realized I had some memory issues.  Oh, my mind is pretty much intact – depending on who you’re talking to – but there are huge gaps in my long term memory and my short term memory skips like a scratched record from time to time.  Even remembering the day of my graduation to Dirty Old Man took way longer than it should have; it popped into my head and it took me almost ten minutes to retrieve the full memory.  For me, this is very unsettling and it’s not like the “normal” memory loss the experts say people over 40 start to experience.  There are some things I just can’t remember; I know something took place – at least I think it did – but when I go shuffling through my memories, well, some of the folders are either missing or corrupted as well as the files that were in them, to use a computer analogy.

Like being a dirty old man, not sure if I’m liking getting old all that much.  I look in the mirror every morning and see the same face I’ve always seen… but not really.  The eyes are the same; I can look at an older picture of myself and, oh, yeah, I can recognize those eyes and I know that the lights are on and somebody’s home – which is good.  The face is mostly unwrinkled and unblemished; the most glaring reminder that I’m getting older is that shiny spot on the top of my head that keeps getting bigger and wider every time I happen to see it.  And the grey in my mustache and goatee – when I wear it – really kinda drives home the “old” part of being a dirty old man.

I miss my hair.  Today, I keep my head shaved; for one, I think I look so cool with a shaved head; for the other, well, I hope that it makes the shiny spot less obvious – but I don’t think it’s working.  Back in the day, I used to have a huge Angela Davis-type Afro; I had so much hair that I had to keep it braided more than I had my hair out.  My daughter learned how to braid and used to practice on me and, yeah, there were a lot of times I’d wind up with beads in my hair and, actually, it didn’t look bad although I’d often feel silly, especially when I’d look in the mirror and see that I had pink beads in my hair, my daughter’s favorite color.

I eventually got a jerry curl because,well, everyone else was doing it and the style looked good on me, if not messy and more of a pain in the ass to take care of than the Afro I had.  I was in the men’s room at work one day and looked in the mirror while washing my hands… and noticed I had some hair missing up top and that at the “old” age of 35, my hairline was receding.  I was devastated and the rest of my day was in the toilet after that.  I didn’t start feeling better until I remembered that my father was quite shiny on the top of his head before he turned 35 – but I saw the handwriting on the wall and wasn’t liking what it said.  What made me feel even better was to find out later that my youngest son had a spot way bigger and shinier than mine – and he wasn’t even 25 at the time.  I saw that the premature baldness hit my father, skipped me, my oldest son, and went straight to the youngest one – and I know he ain’t happy about that.

I was cutting my hair one night – did it myself to save money- when my then six-year-old grandson came running into the bathroom and grabbed my arm – the one holding the clippers.  He jerked my arm to get my attention, I turned to look at him and saw a large swatch of hair drop to the floor.  He laughed – I looked in the mirror and wanted to cry; his eagerness to ask me a question caused me to mess up my haircut and the only way to fix it was to cut it all off.

And, no, I didn’t get mad with him, if you’re wondering.

After I cut it all off, I decided to shave the rest of it off – and it’s been like that ever since.  But I do miss my hair…

I talk to my 75 year old mother about getting older – she laughs at me a lot, something she tends to do when I get around to finding out something she already knows, like all those mysterious aches and pains that show up out of nowhere.  Used to be a time we’d talk about raising families, work, stuff like that; now we talk about the best pain relievers, which ones to stay away from, flu shots, and doctor’s visits.  She talks about “Arthur” – and I think it’s funny that her nickname for arthritis is the same as her husband’s – you’d have to meet Art to find out why this is funny as hell.  Indeed, it took me a while to realize that when she’d say, “Damned Arthur is a pain in my butt!” she might not have been talking about her husband – again, if you knew Art, you’d understand this better.

As I’ve gotten older, my sisters, who are both younger, bust my ass about how much I resemble our father, who passed away in January last year.  What I know is that before I started getting older, I looked more like my mother than my father and, before he died, I would categorically deny the resemblance – a running joke in the family.  However, I did get a wake-up call about this getting old thing when my father died because I didn’t see him lying in the casket – I saw myself, minus my ever-present mustache and, oh, yeah, I was still upright and breathing.

Like a lot of other people my age, I tell myself that I’m not getting older – just getting better – but I am getting older (and still better) and I’m not sure I like it a whole lot.  My stroke aside, I know I’m the same person I’ve always been, up to and including still being a dirty old man – I just flashed Linda a minute or so ago.  I have the same sense of humor, the same sense of determination and purpose… but what really changed other than maybe the way I look?  I think I look good for a man my age, although, yeah, the abs aren’t as flat as they used to be, I’m probably just a few pounds heavier than my doctor would like, and I’m seeing grey hair where I don’t care to see it – and I’ve been plucking those damned hairs out of my ears for the longest time!

Ah, but the fire’s still nicely banked!  It’s one of the things that I think keeps me feeling “young” and will keep me feeling that way for a long time to come (I hope).  If anything, the fire’s a little hotter – not sure if I totally understand that one.  The experts say a man reaches his peak in his 20’s and it makes me wonder who they’re talking about because they can’t possibly be talking about me.  I’m hornier now than when I was younger – and I was pretty damned horny back in the day.  Still, having come of age, it feels… comfortable.  There’s a sense of certainty being in your mid-50’s, along with a greater sense of the clock that counts down against us all – but I don’t think about that too much if I can help it.

I don’t try to recapture my glory days because as far as I’m concerned, I’m still living in that space and never left it.  I can probably still slam-dunk a basketball – and without really hurting anything in the process… I think.  As you know, I’m still trying to make deals with my body parts affected by the stroke – I’m still pissed about that one – and the negotiations are ongoing and, yeah, progress is being made – but I really wish I could get my right foot to buy into the deal and stop holding out for a better offer; that way, I could lose the slight limp I have and I’d be better able to chase Linda around our home – and catch her; not gonna go into what I’d do when I caught her but, ah, you know I’m a dirty old man…

 
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Posted by on 23 July 2010 in Life, Living and Loving

 

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