Savannah Morning News column
May 10, 2015
Don’t keep chocolate in the house. If you do, hide it; if you’re lucky, you’ll forget where you hid it.
Don’t keep a scale, either. The news will never be good.
Make your peace with photographs of yourself. You will never like the ones other people like (and send you) because, well, you don’t think they look like you (or how you think you should look).
Before you go out check your shirt for toothpaste dribblings.
When someone is telling a story, just listen. Try not to do the math. It’s not important they were in fourth grade when Kennedy was killed and all along, without thinking about it, you figured you were kind of the same age. Try to refrain from saying, “I have t-shirts older than you,” a line I stole from the late Doug Wyatt, a wag and a fine writer from the Savannah Morning News.
As I complete another trip around the sun and add another year to my age these are a few of the things I’ve learned. Learn the proper way to floss. Apparently, two years into my seventh decade, I have been doing it wrong all this time. How can this be? Go back and forth, side to side. Learn the proper way to use your electric toothbrush. Easy, not too much pressure, don’t forget the gums and the tongue.
Learn how to divert a conversation. Rehearse in your mind a retort to what’s being said. If there are blanks in the noun area, turn the dialogue around and head quick as a bunny for another subject where you’re on solid ground.
When a three-year-old says, “Let’s run,” go with it. Even if you’re on the sidewalk. Even if the sidewalk is uneven and all you can picture is both of you tumbling over and ending up with a bloody nose. Mostly likely it won’t happen.
Try not to point out how much shorter you are even though most of the world seems to tower over you. It’s easier to squeeze through crowds that way.
Steel yourself before going into a doctor’s office that feels more like the office of a cable company or an insurance company or a giant corporation. Put away your checkbook. You can’t pay until they “negotiate.” Don’t expect the doctor to talk to you for long, to ask if you’re eating right and getting exercise, or to say, “You look pretty good!” Get a grip on those expectations. Be happy you can leave without hearing arterial stent or beta blocker or balloon angioplasty. I know they save lives, but still.
When you go to the ballpark don’t give the man who is checking your bag for water bottles (or worse) any grief. He’s only doing his job. “There might be vodka in there or gin,” he says. Horrors. Don’t start bitching and moaning to him about the team leaving Savannah when he tells you there aren’t enough workout facilities for the ballplayers.
Don’t go too far adrift with this stranger checking your bag. It’s not his fault that only boys get to play football in the park, that police departments used to sponsor sports leagues, that major league baseball is for the rich. Just because you’re thinking these things doesn’t mean you have to announce them.
Look for that silver lining. Like the woman who was behind you in line to buy tickets to see the Sand Gnats who offered you her Kroger card so you could get in for a dollar. Or the woman in the expensive seats behind home plate who offered you a seat in the front row. Or the $9 you and a friend spent at the game, $2 for both of you to get in, $1 for some water, $4 for two hotdogs. Cherish those numbers. They are rare.
Be grateful you rode your bike to the game and you got to see the full moon on your ride home and you made it home without running into any potholes, unfinished city work, or those noxious sweet gum balls, just waiting to trip up your tires.
Choose anything over the screen. A downtown nighttime Matt Hebermehl installation? Go!
Listen to the birds and not the news. It is not new, all these deaths and shootings and war dead. For better but most likely for worst they’ve always been around. It’s just that now we have more people reporting on them. (Can you say all the time?)
Finally, a tip from Sophia Loren, that aging beauty.
“Never groan when you get up or sit down on the couch,” she says.