The getting-older thing

Published 4:34 pm Tuesday, April 21, 2009

I’m not sure I’m doing this “getting older” thing very well. I’m pondering the question: What goes first, the body or the mind?

Very quickly, I say it’s the body, but could that simply be my mind playing tricks on my body? For instance, my mind tells me that I’m just as good as I ever was, but my body tells another story.

Sometimes the changes seem to happen over night. I remember when I was about to turn 40 my eyesight was excellent. On the eve of my 40th birthday, I could read the small print of the newspaper with no problem. The very next day at my surprise 40th birthday party someone yelled, “Make a wish and blow out the candles.”

Email newsletter signup

I had turned into Mr. Magoo and asked them to speak a little louder and get next to the candles so that I might hear in which direction to blow!

Someone suggested that since I had just turned 40, it might be a good idea to get a set of those reading glasses. You know just a little help for the small print. I felt my way into the department store and bought some 2.50 magnifying glasses.

That helped for a week or so. Then I decided to do the right thing and get an eye exam. The optometrist put up the eye chart and said “Read the fourth line.”

“Where is the chart?” I asked. He immediately prescribed bifocals.

“I don’t see how you’ve gotten around,” he said.

“Everything was OK until I turned forty,” I said.

“Oh, I see,” he said. Well that’s better than I can do. The eyes were the first to go.

Next was the hair. I don’t know whether it was my first marriage or something else, but one day my hair went from the color it had been for all my life to white. Once again, it seemed to occur overnight. I thought about all those stories I had heard about soldiers in foxholes whose lives were traumatically affected. How their hair turned white overnight.

My boss said, “What’s happened to your hair?” I thought I would try the old soldier story.

“You remember that last business trip you sent me on?” I began. “You told me if I didn’t get that sale, you were going kill me. Well, I didn’t get that sale!”

At first I ignored it. I would look in the mirror and would convince myself that my hair had not changed colors. It still looked the same. Then I remembered to put on my glasses.

It was about that time that everyone, particularly young people, began to call me Mister Lynn. I had never been called Mister, but somewhere in the night when I least expected it, I crossed the age line.

I have come to accept it more now, but there are still times that I am stubborn about this “getting old” thing. Like last week on vacation.

I have always loved to wear blue jeans. That’s what I call them. Some might call them by the brand name, like Levis. Some might call them by the type of material, like denim. I have heard them called dungarees, but, for my money, it’s always been blue jeans.

Donna Sue and I were approaching one of those outlet malls that dot the interstates. I figured, since we were on vacation, how could we pass up an outlet mall? I can assure you that Donna Sue was in full agreement.

I wanted to check out the Levi store and get a pair of blue jeans. I have always looked pretty good in a pair of rugged blue jeans and it was time to strut my stuff, whatever that means. I walked into the store.

One of those modern day youths greeted me. “Can I help you?”

“Yeah,” I said. “I’d like to get a pair of blue jeans.”

“What kind?” he asked. Since it was a Levi store, I thought of saying a pair of Brett Favre Wranglers, but I decided to go easy on the kid.

“Just a pair of regular blue jeans,” I said. “How many kinds can there be?”

He began to go through a whole lot of numbers like 501, 505, 511, 527, 550, 560.

“Whoa, Nellie,” I said. “I just want a regular pair of blue jeans just like I used to wear.”

He looked me up and down and asked another question. “What kind of fit would you like?”

I laughed and said, “a good one!” He didn’t laugh. I was thinking the slim cut that I used to wear, but didn’t say that.

“Well,” young Slim said, “we have the relaxed fit or the comfort fit. They have plenty of give and take in the upper portions of the jeans.”

I know code words when I hear them. He was talking about my physique; or lack thereof. When anyone says relaxed or comfort fit, they are not suggesting any slim fitting garments. Of course I took offense.

“I kind of like the style that you’re wearing,” I said with my hackles raised. “Show me those.”

“Are you sure you don’t want to consider a more mature fit?”

Code words again. A mature fit? Who does this young fellow think he is talking to? Why, I was wearing blue jeans before he was a twinkle in his daddy’s eyes. I may have seen a few revolutions around the sun, but that doesn’t mean I can’t wear a regular pair of blue jeans.

He took me to the regular fit Levi bin and I bought a pair.

“Would you like to try them on?” Slim said, hardly holding in his laughter.

“I don’t think so,” I said. “I’ve been buying this size for a long time. Perfection never changes!”

Donna Sue is still wondering why I won’t put on the blue jeans I bought. I’m not sure about this “getting old” thing.