I didn’t recognize the face in the mirror. It sorta looks like me. Five in the morning is not the best time to look into the mirror but at my age, it’s better than seeing myself in the harsh sunlight. The face wasn’t “the brown-eyed handsome man” that Chuck Berry sang about sixty-one years ago. This face is cut by crevasses covered by a wild beard. The brown eyes sit above “steamer trunks,” not bags. What hair there is, is now more silver than brown…as is a beard that was once redder than white. My eyes are still brown and, in my mind, behind those eyes, somewhere, is a young, “brown-eyed handsome man.”
I’m looking down the barrel at another birthday. Can you tell? One month from today. Another year older. The grim reaper another year closer. Can it be another year already? As I look back…into the mirror and the old gentleman looking back at me, I realize a time versus age graph would show a steeper line after the age of fifty than before. Time flies when you are having fun…and growing old. Yes, I know there is another alternative.
Looking back into the mirror I realize, “that old geezer wants to get at me.” He wants to be me…or rather, he wants me to be him. I refuse to invite him to do so.
I have always been a people watcher…particularly attractive female people, a kink in my sterling armor. Recently I’ve begun to look at older people I know, OLD people my age. I always think, “I don’t look that old do I?” I even asked my best friend Hawk, “Do we look that old?” He said no…but then he’s just a year younger than me. Would he lie?
I hear a tap, tap, tap. Is it the hot water line that needs to be tightened or the old man in the mirror? He wants me to invite him in. No, no, no! I’m going to keep dancing badly until I die…even if it is dancing from the seat of a chair. Maybe I won’t be able to run, but then I’ll walk, or I’ll crawl or do invisible snow angels in the middle of the floor…. Too many people die because they are afraid to live. I will not invite that old coot in.
I awoke to the groans my father made, so many years ago…except they are coming from me. Snap, crackle, pop go my joints as I try to get out of bed. Once I get moving I do okay. Is that the lesson from my ruminations this morning?
The “brown eyed handsome man” in my head thinks he can still do anything. I’m listening to him. I’m going to keep doing my thing…just a bit more slowly. Like a wind-up toy, the spring will wind down or break sometimes, but sometime could be a long way off.
I just learned that a friend’s cancer has returned and invaded his esophagus. He has battled cancer for years, battled it with a joyous heart and a cheerful and exuberant attitude. I hope and pray he is able to beat it but the cards are stacked against him. He has never let the old man in…for eighty-five years.
A piano player, he always reminded me of Hoagy Carmichael’s Cricket in “To Have and Have Not.” I’ll bet Charlie will be playing the piano, cracking jokes, dancing or doing snow angels on the floor until they carry him out. I’ll miss him when he goes but I won’t mourn for him because he kept the old man out of his life. Maybe I can get him to play “Am I Blue” one more time.
Yessir! I’m going to be like Charlie. I will never let that old man I see in the mirror in.
Video credit: YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9C1vJ2Z8aI0
Photo credit: Hoagy Carmichael and Lauren Bacall https://indianapublicmedia.org/afterglow/rainbow-hits-ground-hoagy-carmichael-hollywood/
Don Miller’s writer’s page can be found at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM
Don Miller, writing as Kena Christenson, may be found at https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B07B6BDD19