My Golden Buckeye Card arrived in the mail the other day, and it’s not because I have some type of disability. It’s because I turned 60 on Valentine’s Day. It was a sweetheart of a gift.
At one time I would have considered 60 almost ancient. I no longer feel that way, but considering that the average life expectancy of a male in the United States is 78.54 years, well, I guess I’m in the oldest quadrant of the population. That is good and a bit perplexing.
It’s is good because considering some of my youthful shenanigans, I’m lucky to have made it this far. It is perplexing because I keep wondering how I got this far so fast. It is also perplexing because considering the average life expectancy, I have less than one-fourth of my life yet to go. Some say that means I should slow down, take it easy. What that math tells me is exactly the opposite.
On the other hand, there are signs that my wheels are turning a little more slowly. For instance, my 50th birthday party was doozie, thanks to a cousin and many friends. This year my wife and I met our three sons and their wives or significant others, plus two newborns, for dinner in the Cincinnati area. It was not far from one son’s home, so afterward we went there for an hour or so, then made our way back home.
Because my sons are good at pulling little tricks on me, I halfway expected they might have one up their sleeves last weekend. But they behaved — maybe because they didn’t want to startle an old man.
They are good at things like hiding in the most unsuspecting of places and trying to scare me (sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t), throwing cold water over the top of the shower door when I’m trying to bathe, and things that.
My wife and I are lucky that despite them being 41, 30 and 27 (and I guess we better throw in the 17-year-old grandson that lives with us) they still go on family vacations with us. And that is when they come up with some of their most dastardly deeds.
Take last year when we were on vacation in Gatlinburg staying at a nice chalet. It was rainy for a while one day and since there was not a lot we could do, the boys decided we should play a game. It went like this: One person with a bag of marshmallows stood 15 or so feet away from a person kneeling on the ground with a bowl on the floor in front of them. When the person threw a marshmallow, the object was for the person on the ground to bump it into the bowl with their forehead.
After I watched a couple people try it, I chalked it up as youngsters’ foolishness and headed for the bathroom. As I was standing in the bathroom though, I changed my mind. I came strutting out and announced I was ready to take a turn at the marshmallow gagme.
So I knelt the floor and waited for the marshmallow. I missed the target on the first try and asked for another chance, sure I would hit the target on the second try. I took a deep breath and focused. The marshmallow came my way and it connected perfectly with my forehead. Only it wasn’t a marshmallow. It was a raw egg. And it was obvious as the rest of the family cackled and rolled off their chairs that the game was over, and I had been had.
What could I do but laugh along as egg dripped down my face?
Then there was a time we were in Virginia Beach. I’ve told this before, but it kind of makes the point.
The grandson was pretty young at the time, so I was staying in the more shallow water, playing with him in area where I felt it was safe to leave my glasses on. My boys kept telling me to take my glasses off, but then I can’t see all sights, so I ignored them. I was fine for a long time, but then while I was on my knees with my back turned to the ocean a large wave swept over my head. My glasses were gone in an instant.
The water was clear enough that day that I could see the bottom in chest-deep water, so I started looking for my glasses. Over the course of about 45 minutes I found a state-of-the-art iPod and a few other things I can’t remember, and for the first 15 minutes or so my two youngest sons helped me look. They finally gave up, telling I should join them, but I was too stubborn for that, so I kept looking.
Eventually I grew tired of the hunt, too, and we headed to our room overlooking the beach. It was not good when I stepped out onto the room’s balcony because once again I could not clearly see anything more than a few feet way. And isn’t that the reason you have a beachfront room in the first place?
After a while one of the sons told me try his glasses, but they did not help much. A while later it was time for supper. The family said I could not drive because I could not see. After several minutes of driving we arrived at our chosen restaurant. We waited a while more in line, then were seated, the waitress brought our menus (I can see fine up close) and I began contemplating my choices.
By this time it had been two or three hours since the wave took my glasses. After I decided on my selection, I looked up from the menu and the youngest son was wearing my glasses. What the ….. I thought.
As it turned out, when the wave washed my glasses away, the same son was probably 20 yards or so away. He said he took two or three steps after the wave hit me and stepped on something. When he reached down to pick it up, somehow it was my glasses.
Since the boys told me I should taken them off, I guess they decided to have a little fun with me.
When I looked up from my menu and saw my son wearing my glasses, he had the biggest, most ornery grin spreading across his face that you can image. What could I do but laugh along?
Jeff Gilliland is the editor of The Times-Gazette. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 937-402-2522.