Gods Of Old!

gods

Although old is a relative term, generally, old people never get anything and (some would say) deserve even less.  Children annoy them, teenagers avoid them and adults talk to them in that voice we reserve for pets.  Their stories are long, their habits are confusing and they play way too much “Remember When.”  However, old people have it over everybody else on the planet because they have their own set of gods!  These gods and goddesses, like the pantheon of Valhalla or Olympus, govern all aspects of “older” life.  They appear to us slowly as we tack on the years.  They slyly watch as we slowly trade in our tequila for iced tea, push-up bras for baggy sweatshirts, stiletto heels for comfortable shoes and muscle cars for minivans.  And by the time we’ve replaced vodka shots with a glass of wine and clubbing with crossword puzzles, they have our fate firmly in their hands.  These gods should not be ignored because we’re all going to have to deal with them one day.

Cutonya – The goddess of beautiful grandchildren.  With one glance, she turns any grandchild into the cutest, funniest, most talented little kid on the planet.

Kwikus – This is the god who manipulates the calendar so that days, weeks and seasons magically disappear, and suddenly it’s Christmas– again.

Noxia — This is the god who finds joints and muscles we never knew we had and torments them with annoying little aches and pains.  This is punishment for all the times we were mean, thoughtless and rude when we were younger.  Get used to it!

Poof — The goddess of the unexpected fart.

Scritch – The god of the inappropriate itch.

Folus — The god of aggressive nose hair.

Wat – The god of selective hearing.  This god saves us from all the stuff we didn’t really want to hear in the first place.

Notagin — This is the most helpful of the gods.  He’s the one who protects us from all evil.  He keeps track of our experiences and steers us away from making the same stupid mistakes we made when we were kids.  We should never overlook Notagin, because old people who do, end up giving all their money to Nigerian princes or greedy grandchildren who have no honour.

Myosotia – Sometimes called the Goddess What’s-Her-Name, she takes proper names and puts them just out of reach.  She also hides small objects like keys in the very place we left them.  Oddly enough, Myosotia doesn’t bother with memories that are 20, 30 and even 40 years old — which remain crystal clear.

Metamorpho – This god transforms professional people like doctors, lawyers, accountants, police officers and even judges and politicians into children – who get younger and younger every year.

Kilomornow and his twin sister Saggeth – These two tricksters love practical jokes like shrinking clothes that hang in the closet, adding extra numbers to bathroom scales, distorting mirrors and moving body parts just a little lower to the ground.

But mostly, old people’s lives are governed by the Queen of the Gods:

Idonkare – The most powerful goddess of all, Idonkare spends her time lounging around with her indolent lover, Sowat, playing backgammon and eating nachos, yet her power is so awesome that merely invoking her name brings harmony and comfort to the universe.  For example:

“Looks like you lawn is gettin’ a little long there, Herb.”
“Idonkare!”

Or:

“It’s the trendiest restaurant in town and I’ve got reservations!”
“Idonkare!”

And, of course:

“Grandma, nobody wears a Hawaiian shirt and Lederhosen!”
“Idonkare!”

Have You Heard “the Voice?”

the voice

It’s been a number of years since I first heard “the voice,” but I remember it quite clearly.  I was going through a grocery store checkout and the little popsicle at the cash register said, “And, how are you today?”  She drew out the “oo” vowel and leaned slightly forward as she said it.  It was at that precise moment I realized I wasn’t a young man anymore.  And I have to admit it annoyed me.

For those of you who are unfamiliar (read “under 50”) “the voice” is the inflection adults add to their speech when they’re talking to children, dogs, foreigners, hospital patients and old people like – uh – me.  It’s a strange combination of empathy and authority.  It suggests that the speaker thinks you might not understand the words, but wants to reassure you that they are in charge and there’s nothing to worry about.  And despite its condescending tone, it’s actually full of goodwill.

Over the years, I’ve gotten used to “the voice,” but, honestly, it still grates on me.  I can’t help it; I just don’t like being talked to on the same level as “Who’s a good boy, then?”  This is especially true when the speaker is a 20-something somebody whose major accomplishment in life is a totally cool Instagram profile.  I know these folks are full of good intentions, but treating grey hair as if it’s a terminal disease is hard to take when you’re on the receiving end.  (Full disclosure: Like everybody else on this planet, I used “the voice” when I was younger and still do, on occasion.)

The problem is, after a while, “the voice” doesn’t quit.  It’s like you’re living in a gigantic daycare centre.  Pretty much everybody who doesn’t know you, uses it.  They start every conversation with a simple question so you’re not stuck for an answer.  They constantly repeat themselves as if you can’t hear, don’t understand or have no attention span.  And they over-explain everything — as though your age and your IQ are somehow connected – adversely.  It’s totally tiresome.  But, the worst thing is “the voice” tells you – in no uncertain terms – that you’re no longer a viable sexual partner and you are not now — nor ever were — a badass.

It’s been a number of years since I first heard “the voice,” but I remember it quite clearly.  I looked at the little popsicle at the cash register, saw her smile, looked into her eyes and thought, “You have no idea who you’re dealing with, little girl — and if I told you even half the story, you wouldn’t believe me.” But, all I could think of to say was, “Not bad — for an old fella!”

Dear Old People

cassette-tape

Okay, old people!  STOP IT!  Yeah, yeah, yeah!  We all know life was a gigantic hot fudge sundae back in the 70s or the 30s or whenever the hell you thought you were cool, but it’s time to give it a rest.  Every generation thinks they’re the best: take a listen to ancient Boomers yipping about the 60s as if it were an expensive suburb of Nirvana.  (It’s long past time to shoot that myth in the head, BTW.)  I’m not saying we shouldn’t be nostalgic for that magical time when we were young, beautiful, full of hormones and immortal (guilty as charged) but could we just shut up about it for five minutes? Here are a few facts old people need to remember before they start shouting their mouths off.

Nobody cares that you can rewind a cassette tape with a pencil.

Yeah, telephones were attached to the wall.  Big wow!  All that meant is every time you were talking to your friends, your mom, your dad and your dog could hear the entire conversation.

No matter how you spin it, watching a 6-year-old edited movie with a ton of advertising — on a 32 inch television set — is just not as good as watching a first-run HD film on a 60 inch big screen.  Especially when you were busting your bladder, waiting for the commercials so you could go pee without missing something.

Water from the garden hose was just water; it wasn’t 30-year-old Chablis.

The major difference between riding a bike with a helmet and riding a bike without one is – uh – I don’t know – brain damage?

The truth is, it was totally crappy to take a pile of pictures at your grandma’s 90th birthday party and find out — three days later — that half of them were out of focus.

The only reason Pong™ was cool is that’s all we had.

Carrying a camera, a Walkman™, a guide book, binoculars, a map, a pen, paper and a pocketful of coins, for pay phones and parking, when you went on vacation, was a total pain in the ass.  It’s a wonder everybody over 30 doesn’t walk with a limp.

And speaking of maps.  Cruising down the highway at 70 mph while simultaneously trying to find your exit on an uncooperative paper map the size of your dining room table was really kinda stressful.  And refolding the damn thing after you were done was even worse.

But the thing old people need to remember most about “the good old days” is:

It actually wasn’t all that much fun getting choked with cigarette smoke — in bars, restaurants, office buildings, on the streets, at the airport, in the park and (and this is true) in doctors’ offices and maternity wards.