Garland Green: What if I told you insane was working a 50-hour week for fifty years, at the end of which they tell you to piss off. Ending up in some retirement village, hoping to die rather than suffering the indignity of trying to make it to the toilet on time. Wouldn’t you consider that to be insane?
Mitch: Value this time in your life kids, because this is the time in your life when you still have your choices, and it goes by so quickly. When you’re a teenager you think you can do anything, and you do. Your twenties are a blur. Your thirties, you raise your family, you make a little money and you think to yourself, “what happened to my twenties?” Your forties, you grow a little pot belly you grow another chin. The music starts to get too loud and one of your old girlfriends from high school becomes a grandmother. Your fifties you have a minor surgery. You’ll call it a procedure, but it’s a surgery. Your sixties you have a major surgery, the music is still loud but it doesn’t matter because you can’t hear it anyway. Seventies, you and the wife retire to Fort Lauderdale, you start eating dinner at two, lunch around ten, breakfast the night before. And you spend most of your time wandering around malls looking for the ultimate in soft yogurt and muttering “how come the kids don’t call?” By your eighties, you’ve had a major stroke, and you end up babbling to some Jamaican nurse who your wife can’t stand but who you call Mama. Any questions?
To me, fair Friend, you never can be old,
For as you were when first your eye I eyed
When at last we are sure
You’ve been properly pilled,
Then a few paper forms
Must be properly filled
So that you and your heirs
May be properly billed.
Even while I protest the assembly-line production of our food, our songs, our language, and eventually our souls, I know that it was a rare home that baked good bread in the old days. Mother’s cooking was with rare exceptions poor, that good unpasteurized milk touched only by flies and bits of manure crawled with bacteria, the healthy old-time life was riddled with aches, sudden death from unknown causes, and that sweet local speech I mourn was the child of illiteracy and ignorance. It is the nature of a man as he grows older, a small bridge in time, to protest against change, particularly change for the better.
Bernstein: Old age. It’s the only disease, Mr. Thompson, that you don’t look forward to being cured of.
What Youth deemed crystal,
Age finds out was dew.
There is a trade off – as you grow older you gain wisdom but you lose spontaneity.
Things have dropped from me. I have outlived certain desires; I have lost friends, some by death… others through sheer inability to cross the street.
Meredith: This one’s from Michael. “Let’s hope the only downsizing that happens to you is that someone downsizes your age.”
Michael: Get it? ‘Cause of the downsizing. Rumors. And ’cause you’re getting old.
Meredith: I get it.
At my age, flowers scare me.
And so I set these things down before the onset of the first of a thousand small physical degradations as, in a still-distant suburb, Death strides whistling towards me.