Stepping Around The ‘72 Pole'


My readers have been clamoring for me to write a little piece about the events of my past year.

I told both of them they would get more entertainment by watching a few haircuts down at Sam's or just standing in the "Nine Items Only" line at Wal-Mart.

I got to thinking about it, though, and decided to see how much about 2007 I can remember and just how relevant it turned out to be.

"Age" seems to have been the dominant topic of the year. In some way or another, the subject just kept popping up.

Last August, I two-stepped my way around the seventy-two pole on the way to seventy-three. It seemed no more difficult or noteworthy than any other loop I have made, but even though the music still plays lively on the inside, apparently the exterior can no longer hide the truth.

Folks older than me are calling me "Sir."

Strangers with white hair and wrinkled faces are including me in their "Old Folks" stories.

Young girls approach carelessly.

At dinner, during the Christmas holidays, my nine-year-old grandson looked up at me and asked, "Grand-Daddy, how old are you?" "Seventy-two," I proudly answered, thinking he might come back with, "That doesn't seem possible." Instead, he thought for a moment and then said, "Gee, you are the oldest person I know."

If that doesn't put it in perspective, nothing will.

I want to shout, "but wait, there's more!"

The urge is strong to say to the world, "You ain't seen nothing yet."

But the words increasingly fall on the backs of the last few patrons exiting the theater.

It's time to learn some new tricks, I think. "Out with the old, and in with the new" is no longer a cliché.

The year 2007 had a message loud and clear for me -- Your first fifteen minutes are up.

So, I now must take inventory and see what is left to fight with or build upon, as I belatedly take up character roles.

Another very strong message also came through.

We are made of clay, not steel.

My own body finally acknowledged this point, and I had surgery to correct some irritable and rather painful areas in my lower back. I figured about six weeks of down time and I would appear as the new Lee Majors.

The hardest part would be mustering up some sympathy for my golf buddies as a new, unfettered swing emerged, and I would attain my rightful place atop the winnings list.

"What's that? Naw, the Care package is in the mail. You're two down, Sweetie."

Alas, it never came to pass. My doctor explained it this way, "Even if I could transplant talent, you are too far down the waiting list."

I hope he is happy with the Medicare payments.

On a much more serious note, a very good friend passed away within what seemed like mere weeks last year.

One day he was looking like a matinee idol and joking around. Then, he was gone. He wasn't a big man, but he left some very large shoes to fill.

2007 mostly slid by during the night like one of those great ocean liners which seem small and compact at a distance, but so formidable up close.

I was presented some interesting challenges, and I think I handled most without embarrassing those around me.

I believe I improved incrementally in my never ending quest to be a better husband and father. In short, 2007 was a rather quiet, unremarkable year, and yet profound in some unexpected way, I grew, and I came to accept mortality.

You never want to leave the stage.

You want to "amount to something" as my daddy used to say. As long as the band is playing, you give 'em the soft shoe or maybe a few tap steps, and you live with the faint applause.

One day, you wonder if just a little more hard work and dedication could have taken you to the top.

All the hard work and practice in the world would not have made me into Fred Astaire or Tiger Woods, I know, but now the question is even less relevant. I have to factor in Time.

I've been to some tops, once or twice, and I've learned what many learn.

You spend all your efforts getting there, only to find you are inexperienced at staying there. Anyway, it's not about that anymore.

The year 2007 has shown me that sometimes you do get second chances, but rarely at the same goal.

I have some new goals now. Ask me this time next year what they are.

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