I’m writing them for two reasons: to help put my experiences in perspective and to purge myself of any residual compost.
Since it is good therapy, you are invited to join me, post your link in comments and I’ll be sure to drop by.
Let it begin:
When I was a kid there was always an Old Fart going on and on about the happenings “back in the day.” The young person, me, would hang their head because once an O.F. started it was near impossible to stop the diatribe. The other day the O.F. turned out to be me. That wasn’t the worst part; the worst part was realizing my Old Fart status way too late; long after I walked to my car, I thought back on the glazed eyes I left in my wake. Why would I do that to anyone?
Weddings were when my grandfather would strike–I’d be enjoying the happy atmosphere, drinking a little, dancing, rejoicing–it was so festive all guards would be down. He’d wrap a friendly arm around me, have me sit awhile, and tell me about when he was young. Best intentions dancing in his wise sparkling eyes, his goal to prevent my pain or heartache, or encourage prosperity—whatever. I’d listen, forcing my attention on his concern and love for me while wishing, hoping, praying someone would save me. No one came and I swore I saw some snicker as they quickly walked by.
Knowing that trapped feeling and without thinking about my listeners, I shared in the dentist office–a kid was waiting with the receptionist at her counter, my victims didn’t have a chance as I commented that at my age I was running out of teeth. The young boy’s gaze landed hard on my mouth, his little wheels turning as he counted the teeth he could see. The poor little guy got a speech about when I was young–I’ll show mercy and not include the details. But that’s not all; no, I have to go into another little speech which included the receptionist. I noticed the glazed eyes as I pay my bill and wondered what was wrong with them.
It hit me when I got into my car. I stared out the window in disbelief, wanting to run back in to apologize and at the same time knowing they’d locked the door in self-defense. When I looked in the review mirror, meeting my own eyes, I didn’t think that I was old enough to tell “back in the day” stories, yet there I was in the aftermath of it all. The stories weren’t good, just advice badly disguised from an Old Fart. full of wisdom I don’t really have–Ahhhh. The shame of it all.
I don’t know when it happened, and have no excuse. One day I was living a happy young life and the next I’m dragging off my own young people to bore with… It is at moments like these I see my grandfather in a new light; the man was doing me a kindness, and I learned a lesson he may not have wanted to teach. Thanks to him I should know better than to force my on-high stories upon anyone, knowing this could save lives. I swear to be aware of my behavior from this moment on and stop–just stop; I’m doing again, aren’t I?