Seniors Moment


Despite my youthful appearance and demeanor, I do sometimes worry about the sands of time creeping into my life and suddenly I’m an old man.  The uncomfortable grit of time is a sneaky bugger.  Like a day at the beach, you’re having a great time until you’re walking back to the car and notice a sand-wedgie forming in your shorts.

Sure, when I see pictures of myself I sometimes think ‘who’s that old geezer wearing the same clothes as me?’.  I usually chalk that up to bad lighting and bad photography.

…and I’ve been offered the ‘seniors discount’ more than once. Ouch!

The outward signs are there, despite my denial and generally immature behavior.  Aches and pains, white hair, taking a handful of pills each morning and night.  The usual stuff.

But I’ve started to notice less obvious things lately.

I find myself walking around with my hands behind my back a lot more.  Only old folks do this.


Maybe that’s because during the Great Depression they were told to ‘look but don’t touch’. Maybe it’s about creating balance since old guys get a bit of a paunch and need to offset the forward weight.  I don’t know, since I’m new at this.

Something else old folks do that you don’t hear any more is whistling.  Old guys whistle a lot, but no one else does.   Maybe t’s a lost art, like cursive writing or dialing a phone. I heard a guy whistling all through the store the other day.  whistleIt seemed odd….and a bit annoying.  He was doing bird calls.  He was very good at it, but he wouldn’t shut up. ‘Whistle, whistle, whistle’…non stop! I wanted to choke him after the 10th bird call.

Apparently, having no patience for things is another sign of old age.

I guess the most disturbing trend are these things we call ‘seniors moment’;  when we forget what we were doing or go looking for our glasses while we’re wearing them…or forgetting your wife’s name when introducing her to your old class-mates (true story).

Even calling it ‘seniors moment’ shows that I’m aging.  I used to call it a ‘brain fart’.

Now, we all get them from time to time, right?  You do, I do, everyone does.  Start driving and get on the on-ramp to go to work when you were heading to the grocery store, or walk into a room and forget why.  Very common and very natural.  That’s just being distracted.

The problem is figuring out when it’s just a brain fart/seniors moment, or when it’s old age.  I figure the frequency of it has to be factored in, right?  If you forget where you put your keys occasionally, that’s just normal.  If you have to wear them around your neck, you might have a problem.

The severity of the forgetfulness is probably part of the equation too – If you forgot where you put your glasses, that’s normal.  If you forgot that you wear glasses…well, you might have to sell those aluminum pots.

I’m trying to keep all of this in perspective.  I haven’t forgotten where I live or that I was supposed to be wearing pants today, so that’s good.  I just wish these ‘senior moment’s’ were a bit less frequent, you know?

Meanwhile, I think I’ll stroll down to the Blockbuster and rent a Matlock video while I whistle with my hands behind my back.  And if I see a little kid along the way, I might do the ‘I’ve got your nose’ trick with my thumb.  Kids love that!





Do they call it ‘Chinese Food’ in China?

DSCF1557If you ever find yourself standing on a street corner in Shanghai, you might find these handy tips helpful – I wish I had them before I went there…

  • It’s really, really far away…like on the other side of the world far away.  You should pack some snacks for the trip….and definitely go to the washroom before you leave.
  • You will stand out.  Especially if you’re ‘Caucasian’ with white hair.  It’s like ‘Where’s Waldo’, but the total opposite.
  • Crosswalks are for dare-devils…unless your host insists that it’s okay for you to step out into traffic, ‘because the locals are terrified of killing a foreigner’.
  • If you have a language barrier, giving them the ‘thumbs up’ sign of approval doesn’t translate.  They probably think you’re asking to hitchhike.
  • Massages are very popular there – everyone goes to get massages…but if a lady approaches you on the street and asks if you want a massage, say no.  In fact, just walk away and pretend you didn’t see them.
  • People will try to sell you Rolex watches that only cost $50 here….see above.
  • $1 = 5 RMB (Chinese Dollars) and you should haggle down to less than half of any price for merchandise.  Make a ridiculous offer, and when they say ‘no‘, just walk away – they’ll come and find you.
  • You won’t find Sweet & Sour Chicken Balls on any menu, but you will find jellyfish, duck tongues, eel, snake, and other things you didn’t know you could eat.
  • When your host offers you an exotic dish that you really aren’t interested in trying, it’ll get put on your plate anyway….and you better eat it.
  • Forks and knives look like 2 sticks…it’s okay to stab your food with them.
  • Don’t drink the water unless it comes in a bottle or has been boiled….just trust me on this one.
  • Tea comes in 2 flavors; black or green. Both are safe to drink.
  • There’s a lot of people there…like more than you can count.  Even if you could, double it.
  • The roads seem the same as here, but 4 lanes means between 3 and 6 lanes of traffic there, and the lines are only vague recommendations.
  • The concept of personal space on the subway in Shanghai doesn’t exist.  Have a mint before commuting.
  • The police drive around with their emergency lights flashing, but they don’t seem to be going anywhere in particular, and no one gets out of their way.  I don’t know what would happen in a real emergency….for example, if a foreigner gets run over at a crosswalk.

For more travel tips, check out my blog; ‘No Gravy for Old Men’.

I woke up old – how did that happen?

With age, apparently, comes wisdom.  I am a textbook case of the antithesis of this little pearl of knowledge.

I admit that despite passing the half-way mark to the century of life, I have done an admirable job at stubbornly hanging on to a younger me, at least in attitude and behaviour.

But I think I’m beginning to bore from the fight, or maybe I’m just getting too old to pretend that I’m too youthful to be 50.  There have been some signs lately that make me think that it’s time to embrace the inevitable.

For those who don’t know me personally, I ‘transitioned’ from strawberry blonde (ok, RED), to a bright white at an early age…way too early an age!  This is one of the hereditary traits my brothers and I got from our father, but we haven’t held much of a grudge about it, except for the occasional bad dye job.  There’s something about knowing you get to do the same to your offspring that takes the sting out of it.  Sorry kids!

I had a brief period when meeting new people, they thought I was naturally a blonde.  Lucky for me, there was always a good friend nearby to set them straight…”Blonde? Yeah, right!”.  Bummer.

Since then, I’ve had to deal with a barrage of ego-busting comments. The most painful are the ones offered up innocently.  Deliberate insults are expected – at least between guys.  Innocent comments really hurt.

Getting a hair cut, I was asked by a stylist much older than myself, if I was going to be getting the ‘seniors discount’.  WHAT???  Maybe she was hitting on me or something.  It didn’t work.  And she didn’t get a tip!

Several years ago, I was taking my daughter to swimming lessons at the local rec center.  While she swam, I would sit in the bleachers and watch or read a book, or do work.  At the end of the lessons, they had a ‘meet the instructor’ night.  My daughter was excited to have me come over, and told the instructor that her Dad was there to observe.

The instructor, about 17 at best, and clearly lacking any age judgement at all, responded to my daughter by saying, ‘Oh, that’s nice, since your grandfather has been bringing you all this time’.  OUCH!!

I know at least one of my brothers has faced the same type of age discrimination comments themselves.  The other ones had the bad dye jobs.

It’s really not fair, either.  Except for the hair, I bet I could pass for someone 10 years younger.  In fact, even at this ‘mature’ age, I still struggle with zits.  I mean, come on!! Grey hair and pimples?  God really does have a good sense of humor.  Me?  Not so much.

It’s been a hot summer so far, and with my fair skin, sunscreen and a good hat is the only defense against spontaneous human combustion in the blazing sun.

Ball caps are okay, but don’t cover my big ears or the back of my neck, so I went out shopping for a larger hat.  This is where I started to struggle with the demons of age vs youthfulness. This is also where I realized what a funny shaped head I have.  It’s not that big, but it’s kind of long from front to back, so hats usually look ridiculous on me, like I’m a little kid wearing an adult hat.  Because of my head shape, though, I still need a large hat or it won’t fit my football shaped skull.

I’m not really much of a country fan, so a typical cowboy style hat is out.  The kind that Chi Chi Rodrigues wore looks cool, but I’m not Chi Chi Rodruques, and I don’t have his shape of head.  Besides, I could never pull off his kind of cool.

So, now I’m looking at myself in the mirror, wearing one of those Tilly style hats with a chin strap, and the brims that buckle to the side, like some old Englishman on safari in Africa.

Standing in a store with this goofy headdress on, looking in a mirror and I’m thinking, ‘hey this is functional, practical, and it actually fits my head’.



Are you kidding me?  When did this happen?  When did I go from style-conscious to frumpy?  Did I just grow some man-boobs, and decide that as long as I’m comfortable, it doesn’t matter what I look like?

Am I going to get one of those cozy blankets with the sleeves, start wearing a fanny-pack, and cutting my hair with a ‘Flow-bee’ attached to the vacuum cleaner?

These transitions should take years – even decades to develop.  This new practical side of me just showed up one day.  No warning, no gradual metamorphosis from a butterfly to a dull ugly old caterpillar.  Just wham.

Of course, I bought the hat.  AND IT WAS ON SALE!  Woo Hoo!  My wife even snapped up one of the sides to make me look authentic.  Now I resembled that old side-kick guy on Crocodile Dundee for Pete’s sake.  All I needed was an ascot and khaki’s.  Actually, that sounds pretty good!

There I go again – totally lost my youthful edge.  I might just start shopping for some nice black knee-high socks to go with my sandals, and get those huge wrap around sun glasses that you wear right over your prescription lenses.  Now that’s a look!

Fashion isn’t even the worst of it.  Now I find myself trying to get free stuff from my neighbours, as if I’m some pensioner who went through the Great Depression or something.  ‘That’s a perfectly good shoe, hardly worn out.  Left right there on the side of the road.  I wonder what size it is?’…and I’m excited about it!

I actually got a total stranger down the street to give me a half-yard of limestone so I could do some landscaping in my backyard.  ‘Say, I see you’ve been doing some stone work’ (while leaning on the excess pile of limestone in his driveway).  “I was thinking of doing a little work myself”.  “How much does this limestone cost, anyway?”

Next thing I know, I’ve brokered a deal to take home everything he didn’t use…for FREE!

Sure, it’s great, right?  But at what point did I decide that instead of just going down to the garden center and getting my own dirt, I would strike up a conversation, hoping to get free things from people?  Young people don’t do this.  Old people do.

You know what else old people do?  Yard sales!! Oh, baby!  You could spend an entire weekend, driving at half the posted speed limit with your hazard lights on, trolling the suburban landscape looking for 10 cent treasures.  And the greatest thing about yard sale shopping?  It’s a license to park right in the middle of the street.

You could legitimately hold up an entire fire department if there’s some good finds on the lawn.  It helps if you’re driving a beige Buick.

Here’s a tip for you:  people will tell you that you should get there early, but the really wise shopper knows that they get desperate at the end of the day.  No one wants to put that junk back in the garage!  That’s the time to bargain – they’re practically giving the stuff away…and you’d still be home in time to have supper at 4 o’clock.

Oh God, someone help me….