An Old Dog’s Tale: On getting old (and staying that way...)

Even old guys enjoy seeing pretty girls at the beach, but need to be careful not to ogle too long.

I’ve finally realized that the things we do today will become our memories in the future. So I’ve tried to think of what I’ve done lately that might someday be important.

I found a penny on the ground and, for the first time in my life — ever — I didn’t bend down to pick it up. It’s only a penny, I thought, even if someday I’ll have to go to a museum if I want to see one again.

I saw a pretty girl on the beach, and stared at her for about 30 seconds. Oops, turns out that was about 25 seconds too long. I got a dirty look.

On Monday I read a children’s book to a flock of seagulls at the beach (and they listened!). On Tuesday I shared a dog biscuit with a dog. On Wednesday I went to sit in my chair and missed (and landed my butt in a flower pot).

The stories of my life (like yours, too, I’m sure) are like leaves fallen from a tree. I can no longer have them but still they give me comfort. So why do I feel so foolish for repeating them out loud?

I’m a slave to the things I can no longer change. My first love, what was that worth at the time? What is it worth now? Today I’m an old man, holed up in my double-wide, watching football games and wondering when the garbage truck will come. But this is what occupies my mind the most: Once upon a time I was so good looking! (I guess we all were when we were young, so never mind what I just said). The touch of a woman’s lips was like nectar to me (I remember that at least). My every step was an adventure. I bared my teeth to the world and lit a fire in my mind and I could do anything.

My life (just like yours) is custom made. And that makes me a little sad. Do I still matter? Does anyone miss me?

I wonder if anyone I’ve ever loved still loves me. I wonder if my father made it to Heaven (I know my mother did). I wonder if the doctor who delivered our daughter still remembers her. I think about all the people ever in my life and wonder how they are.

So, how’s it going, world? Are you happy in the past or in the present? Or does the future spur you on? The future, that’s what drives our young people (the way it did for us). Yet for every time I wanted to hitchhike to the stars or bicycle to the Gates of Paradise, now I’m wondering what to cook for dinner... Do I have enough toilet paper or should I go to the store... I’m getting low on fabric softener... Gas for the lawn mower... Warmer socks.

Why didn’t I at least try to do more (back when I could). Why didn’t I walk out the door and march to the beat of that different drummer everyone keeps talking about? (Or maybe you did. Maybe your dreams and your life turned out the same. Maybe someday your tombstone will be the biggest of them all.)

Give your love to your husband. “You’re handsome, not as strong as you used to be and probably not as smart, but I don’t care. I love you so much I can’t hardly stand it. I am supremely, overwhelmingly and completely happy. You have become the greatest part of what I am.”

Give your love to your wife. “You’re prettier than ever before. Maybe it’s in a different way but it’s still magic. My love is quiet but it’s strong; my love is not so physical (anymore), but it rocks me to my toes. I will fight for you until I die. Once we shared our first kiss and someday our last breath. For the rest of my days I will live in peace and serenity ... And it’s all because of you.

“You have walked beside me on every lonely road. We have lain together in each other’s arms beneath the moonlight.

“So now the swords are sleeping. That’s why we don’t have to mind looking silly having an entire conversation about who makes the best mustard or where to hang the bird feeder.

“This is the life that was meant to be. This is the dream.”

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