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On old age, death, and dying

Image: PV Bella

“Old age is an excellent time for outrage. My goal is to say or do at least one outrageous thing every week.” (Maggie Kuhn)

When people ask me how I am, my stock answer is, “I’m old, crabby, ugly, tired, mean, miserable, and ornery.” It would make a great title for a Country Western song. It pays to have a consistent positive attitude. Consistency is one of the hallmarks of excellence.

A while back, a good friend asked how I was doing. I told them I was trying to grow old gracefully, but it was not working well. I live in a curmudgeonly, crotchety, cantankerous state of mind.

When I wake up in the morning, I sit on the edge of the bed, taking a deep breath to see if I am still living. I take stock of any new aches and pains in places of my body that I never knew existed. Then I shuffle off to get the elixir of life, coffee. Coffee makes me feel human again. It also imparts humanity because it is the only thing that keeps me from becoming a serial killer.

I try hard to remember I am not 25 anymore. My mind and body are constantly at war with each other. Sometimes my body says, “I do not think that is a good idea” My brain says, “Hold my whiskey.”

I spend the morning scanning the news to keep informed of all the issues I should be p***ed off about. I shower, shave, dress and go out to face the day. Eventually, supposed members of the human species- the pests and pestilence- will go out of their way to fuel my anger issues. These leftover useless wastes of protoplasm never fail to disappoint. Jean-Paul Sartre was right. “Hell is other people.” It is not literally what he meant, but it is an apt description of the mutant genetic defects that make my daily life a living Hell.

The older I get, the more I take profanity to a higher art form. If I live any longer, it may become its own genre. On some days, patience or calm is not in my vocabulary. I do not suffer fools and have no mercy for them. I am not Mr. T, pitying the fools. I use the three-strike rule.

Strike one. I will ask you not to do something- even nicely saying please- as much as that hurts.

Strike two. I will tell you in a loud voice.

Strike three. I will unleash a Hellfire of vulgarity

Strike three was fun during the height of COVID when people, masked or unmasked, came into my six-foot personal space. I do not care what others in earshot think or if their little bundles of chromosomal slime are within hearing distance.

They say these are the Golden Years. Well, I did not get a gold watch when I turned 65. I do not get “showers” from Russian hookers. I don’t own a gold-plated toilet or have gold-plated fixtures. So, what is so f**cking golden about these years? If I live another ten years, will they be called the Platinum or Diamond Years?

The language keeps changing. I am not supposed to be old. I am supposed to be a senior citizen. So, if I am a senior, when do I get my graduation ceremony, diploma, graduation party, cake, and gift envelopes full of cash?

Elder is another term. What am I a member of a tribe or church? Of a certain age? What is a certain age? Can I call myself any certain age I want?

Some refer to people refer to old people as xy years young? Am I aging backward? Will I regress to my former self, 175lbs. of romping stomping dynamite?

None of us wants to get old. Guess what, most of us are lucky enough to get old. Some never make it, they die “young” or at a “certain age.”

We treat old age as if it is some golden opportunity. It is an achieved goal, a sign of success. “I made it. I am old. Hallef**kinglujah.”

“I am prepared to meet my maker. Whether my maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter.” (Winston Churchill)

 We live until we die. But no one dies during these times of soft, meaningless language. Die, dying, and death are forbidden in our supposed modern wussified vocabulary. We pass. Are we kidney stones? We transition. Transition to what? We expire. Like subscriptions? We go to a better place. Really? Where is this better place, and why can’t we go there when we’re living?

People go to wakes. They tell the family they are sorry for their loss. Loss? The stiff is lying right there in the coffin. The loved one is not lost. Thanks to mortuary cosmetology, he/she/they/them/it looks better in death than they ever did in life. They are probably better dressed too.

I am old. I will die eventually. Until then, I will take great pride in my crazy, cantankerous, curmudgeonly persona. Being old, crabby, tired, ugly, mean, miserable, and ornery is the only way to survive in a world of human pests and pestilence with which the Great Comedian plagued my daily life in this Hell on Earth.

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