Monday, February 18, 2008

My Day as an Old Guy

Did you notice something about last week's Republican happenings? Just a week or so after losing, Mitt Romney, a strong second, endorsed John McCain as though they were old pals after all. Given that there seemed to be some animosity between the two, it leaves you wondering if there's a Party rule that says Republicans must do it this way. Heaven forbid Mitt should ever be accused of breaking rules.

Though I can feel it creeping into my life, I am trying hard not to be "old". I like to think I can spot geezers not only from their appearance, but from their list of preferences, complaints, and even their favorite athletes. The wife and I have permission to note it whenever we say things that even hint of something our elders might blurt out.
So I hesitated when a good older friend, Mac, asked if I could supply the tenor (high) notes for his barbershop quartet performing around town on Valentine's Day in order to generate some funds for the chorus from which the quartet is taken. I went along because I lacked a good excuse to avoid it, and started learning the songs that were already second nature to the other three, Mac and two Dons, all in their (gulp) seventies.
Others will have to judge our level of performance, but musically, barbershop harmony is risky. It is never accompanied, and carries the risk of breaking down completely if one part is off. I like to think we achieved ...competence.
The big day arrived. I put on a borrowed outfit. Pink shirt, red bow tie, garters worn on the sleeves and a vest embroidered in a silver and blue pattern. We must have looked like a gay 1920's hit squad. I tried not to make eye contact until we began singing.
We hopped out of Mac's Lincoln in some odd places. The hospital (twice), a floral shop, two newspaper offices (yes, our picture got in), a care center or two, a handful of private homes and even a class of first graders and a barbershop(!). I think we were least expected at the local welfare office, a place where security is a high priority. Who knows what the waitress at the Chinese restaurant where we stopped for lunch thought of us. All "customers" got two songs, and a few heard three. Mac fearlessly fronted for us, introducing us as "The Banana Bunch - Music with A Peel!" I was told we had a profitable day.
It's true what they say about being old - it's no place for sissies. One of the Dons revealed that he had begun giving himself insulin shots a year ago, and that he has crossed the thousand shot milestone. The other Don is also diabetic, but Mac, now 78, has survived five separate cancer surgeries, the last one earlier this month! It makes me ashamed that I have ever griped about a little gout, or about my days of more than one tennis match in a day being gone.
There are worse things than getting old, though most of my observations are still, gratefully, second hand. As I write, I'm skipping the chorus practice to which I've been invited now many times. I think my musical ambition now is to sing as part of a Temptations tribute group. Good luck with that. But in the meantime I can say we helped a few people be a little happier and even brought a tear or two using whatever talent remains. But I'm not yet ready for a steady dose of "Wait Till the Sun Shines, Nellie".


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