May 20, 2006

A Retired Man's Period of Adjustment
An Essay

Here it is ten o'clock in the morning, and I am sitting around in my robe trying to figure out what to do today. I remember when I was preparing to retire, one of the things high on my list of what I would NOT do, was sit around at ten o'clock in the morning trying to figure out what to do. I would schedule my time and involve myself in matters of the mind and body. I would read a book a week, and join discussion groups to figure out what I had just read. I would keep my body in trim. I would not become one of those overweight, gone to seed, ex-whatever's.

Welcome to my world, here I sit at mid morning, sporting a three-day growth of beard wearing a robe that no longer covers my inflated, unchisled, camouflaged abs, pondering my next move. This is not to imply that even in my good days were my abs chiseled, but this is ridiculous.

Well, after running my hands through my as yet unshowered, unshampooed, too long since I've been to the barber hair, I have decided to rededicate myself to a life of worth, to perform works for the betterment of mankind AND womankind. Now here I have to pause a little trying to figure out just what that might be. But anyway, you get the idea. I am Man, I am not ready to be dumped in the surplus store of redundant old men. I am going to put myself through a regimen for mind and body and come out a new and more vital elder statesman, ready to offer my vast knowledge of the ways of the world and how to navigate its intricate, dangerous paths to all who seek my wisdom.

As I am sitting on the side of my bed, feeling noble and wise, my grandson appears at my door, and asks if I would play in the sandbox with him? A trip of many miles must start somewhere and if the sandbox with my grandson is not the destination I was thinking of, it seems somehow to be just what I want to do.

After an hour of mentally losing about fifty-six well worn years, and indulging myself in the world of the six year old, which surprisingly was not too hard to do, I reemerged into my sixty-two year old body and mind still unshaven, unwashed and unshampooed. At my lovely wife's subtle hint, a finger pointed toward the bathroom, I marched dirty but happier to enter the world of the clean and socially acceptable.

The youthful highly muscled man in the commercial flexes his muscles and tells me that my flabbiness and general lack of fitness can be remedied. The only reason, he adds, that I don't have women strolling by and casting sexy glances my way and saying, "Nice Buns", and smiling knowingly, is because I do not use the Bowflexor. With this machine, you lie down on a bench and pull the bowflexor down and then add more weight to make it a challenge. I think about this for a few moments and the vision comes to me of not only feeling, but hearing my muscles and tendons and whatever other stringy stuff we have in our bodies going twang, twang, twang, as if in an echo chamber, and I never rise off that bench again. I think I will settle for a leisurely walk around the block with my wife. She never tells me I have nice buns. Oh well. A diet. That's it, a diet.

When the road to wellness leads through a gym with all the sweat and aches and pain, my mind, steel trap that it is, thinks maybe I should lose the weight first, then tone up what's left. Yes, that the ticket. A diet. Through the years, I have been on many kinds of diets. Carbo diets, protein diets, a cabbage soup diet, guaranteed to make those pounds drop off as you watch. Me, not liking to go through pain alone, always asks my good wife to accompany me down that mined road. Her being the good wife, usually does.

The cabbage soup diet consisted of eating several portions of this obnoxious mixture several times a day. I remember calling my wife from work and telling her I was in maximum crankiness from the darn cabbage soup, thus ended the cabbage soup fiasco, although I did not need any bran in my diet for about a week. So today for breakfast I had a cup of tea and a piece of toast. Lunch, one hotdog and a diet Pepsi. Snack at three o'clock, a piece of cake and a cup of coffee. At five I thought I would have one cheese-it and maybe a glass of water. I did it. One cheese-it followed by six pretzels, seven more cheese-its and four jalapeno flavored pretzel pieces, several soda crackers with butter and more water. Things might not be going too well.

The computer, the conduit of the information age, something that does not take much physical strength to operate or the brain of Einstein to use turns out to be the primary source of my mind enhancement program. While searching for historical essays, I happen to fall into the dancing baby web site. I spend half a day watching him dance to the macarena, a couple rock tunes, and a waltz or two. His footwork and rhythm amaze me. The next thing I want to know more about is the law. Just as I am ready to click on the Supreme Court site, I see a link to lawyer jokes, so I figure I will loosen up a bit with a few jokes about a very deserving group. After about thirty minutes with the law (jokes), it's time to take a break.

Well I have been on my mind and body rehab program for several months now. I haven't lost much weight and my mind is no sharper than it was and I still love to play with my grandsons. I sleep well, I love my wife and she tolerates me, and I look forward to each day. I try to read more and I hate to admit it, but I like some of the stuff on television. We listen on occasion to our local orchestra play some beautiful music, and we explore our surroundings with pleasure. So if on occasion I happen to forget my razor and find myself at ten o'clock in the morning still in my robe, I will not misread this as sloth, but as a contented man that is sometimes a slow starter.

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