The Key To Surviving Old Age
There are many things people do to make sure their golden years are taken care of. Money saved, a roof overhead, and family and friends around to make the sunset years as pleasant as possible.
Listen to me, I sound like a centenarian being shuffled off toward the light. I’m fifty-nine-years-old, closer to retirement than death (fingers crossed). That’s why, what happened a few weeks ago, took me by surprise.
Fortunately, I have some very good friends from high school. It’s amazing to realize that there are people on this planet, outside of family, that have known me for over forty years. Thankfully, there is always someone (usually not me) who will initiate the ‘hey, let’s get together this weekend’ text string.
A few weeks ago, I received that exact text (thanks, Jan), and after a few back-and-forth messages, a time and place was agreed upon.
Anyone who is not from New Jersey doesn’t realize how horrible it is to drive in this state. There might be wide open areas (we are the Garden State, after all) but the majority is bumper-to-bumper. In Jersey, the middle finger is registered as a legitimate turn signal, and God forbid you take someone’s parking space; here it is a legal justification for murder. So anytime I venture out, the back of my mind is already processing what I need to do to get there, and what I am going to do when I arrive. Maybe not when I was younger and didn’t give a fuck; it is something that comes with age.
So, for this particular afternoon gathering, we picked a place in the middle. Close for some, and not too far for others. For me, it was all back roads, which was great.
The part that bothered me was, what I will do when I get there? The town we picked was Milltown, which is a quaint little place. Not so much Bedford Falls (‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ in case you didn’t get the reference) or New York City, but just a nice little town with houses and businesses living side by side on streets with parking meters and street parking.
Street parking sucks. Street parking means parallel parking. No one wants to parallel park once you leave high school.
So I agonized (I did) as I drove toward our gathering, wondering where I was going to park. Not only that, but just how close I was going to be able to park in relation to where we were going to meet. This is what went through my head. How old am I? Should a grown man worry this much about parking?
Imagine my relief when I saw the bar/restaurant that Jan picked (thanks, Jan) for our lunch/dinner/brunch/happy hour had a full open parking lot!
Once inside, settled, and with a beer in front of me, I thought I have hung out with these people for decades, been through trauma and bar fights and indiscretions without a second thought, but now I worried if I had a good parking spot.
This sports bar was huge, with us tucked away in the back, away from “the crowd”. I mentioned how nice this place was, and odd I never knew it existed. In our younger days, we frequented a bar in Milltown, just down the street, which served Weiss beer. Weiss beer is a wheat beer with a higher alcohol content. The owner of that bar, a short, stern woman, threatened you with expulsion if you tried to order more than three beers.
“I know why,” one friend replied, “because we would drive passed this bar to get to the other one, because this was the bar where all the old people went”.
Funny how things we took no notice of in our youth, become obstacles, both large and small, as we grow older. Maybe it’s a form of self-preservation. Who knows what mundane activity will be the next hurdle to overcome.
With that said, don’t even get me started on how walking down a flight of stairs has turned into a life or death journey.