Wednesday, February 3, 2016

"Now Where Were We?"

I recently mentioned 95 year-old Roger Angell’s compilation entitled “This Old Man” and the warming pleasure I derived from reading it.  I mean, just knowing that a guy is successfully plying his trade at ninety-five is exhilarating.  Should I reach that exalted plateau, I’d be happy to be able to find my mouth with a soupspoon.  With the glimmering realization that I’m eating. 

The highlight of the book is an essay to which I would accord immediate “classic” status, it’s “title offering” – arriving at the 91 percent juncture in my reading which is now almost exclusively on “Kindle” and that’s how they tell you where you are.  I have no idea what page it begins on.  That’s for actual book readers.

I shall provide today a sampling slice of Mr. Angell’s insightful and articulate chronicling of his current circumstances – which he composed at age ninety-three – as it rings an identifiable bell with what I am experiencing myself. 

Here’s what he says about the conversational component of reaching your tenth decade, a situation in which you are there, but at the same time

You’re not. 

You can read this now or when you are ninety-three, when it’s applicable. 

My advice:

Read it at ninety.  Just in case.

Okay, here it is.

“We elders - what kind of a handle is this, anyway, halfway between a tree and an eel - we elders have learned a thing or two, including invisibility.  Here I am in a conversation with some trusty friends – old friends but actually not all that old:  they’re in their sixties – and we’re finishing the wine and in serious converse about global warming in Nyack or Virginia Woolf the cross-dresser.  There’s a pause, and I chime in with a couple of sentences.  The others look at me politely, then resume the talk exactly at the point where they’ve just left it.  What?  Hello?  Didn’t I just say something?  Have I left the room?  Have I experienced what neurologists call a T.I.A. – a transient ischemic attack?  I didn’t expect to take over the chat but did await a word or two in response.  Not tonight, though.  (Women I know say that this began to happen to them when they passed fifty.)  When I mention the phenomenon to anyone around my age, I get back nods and smiles.  Yes, we’re invisible.  Honored, respected, even loved, but not quite worth listening to anymore.  You’ve had your turn, Pops; now it’s ours.”

Edging rapidly towards seventy-one, I am as yet not entirely ignored.  However, when I carry on too long, I detect surreptitious glances towards I-Phones. 

Word from an advance scout reveals that the situation gets worse.

1 comment:

Wendy M. Grossman said...

Well, you're not invisible to *us*. :)

I note that I am over 50, female, and yet to become invisible to anyone, AFAICT.