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Living in Overtime

Gloria Steinem is about 83, just 3 years older than I am. I plagiarize her excellent statement: “Most people my age are dead.” It is true, and it feels a bit strange. I can think back to many times and many things that are perhaps unknown by many people.

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It is peculiar for me to realize that most of the girls I dated in high school are dead and gone. My first wife died recently, at 77. Men with whom I grew up, some with whom I had business dealings, most are gone. The worst thing about it, about social media, is that I’ve learned that I wasn’t as well liked as I thought I was.

I thought a lot about why some friends since high school would not remember me fondly. The only thing it could be was jealousy. I regarded myself as the same as any of them. Our neighbourhoods were just blocks apart in various directions, and we were a group of teenage boys and girls, most from the same high school.

In spite of the neighbourhood proximity, it seems my family was somewhat wealthier than others. I was really not aware of it at the time. If I think back and picture some moments, I see what they saw. After a dance, 2 or 3 couples would get into somebody’s father’s borrowed car and head for the coffee house. I would get into my car, which was a new Corvette, and meet up at the coffee house. I didn’t see that I had any advantage or superiority, but they seem to have cloaked me with it.

The few friends I retained, who saw me for who I am without envy, are still friends today. Well, two of them are. The other passed away some years ago. This brings me back to living in overtime. Some old folks forsake the opportunity to explore the world through the Internet. It saddens me, because there is a great deal of pleasure in seeing what’s going on through a faster method than television. The inter-active aspect keeps one busy.

The best thing for a writer to have is a good supply of experiences on which to feed one’s creativity. I can remember horses on the streets of the city, pulling wagons with bread, or milk, cream and butter, or blocks of ice for the ice box. There was the coal man, too. He would carry heavy sacks of coal on a leather-padded shoulder. One after the other, he’d carry them up the driveway and empty each sack through a basement window where a coal chute slid the black rocks into the coal bin.

One of my parents, usually my mother, would go down to the basement from time to time to shovel coal into the old furnace. Sometimes they would clean out the clinkers, the terrible rocks of razor sharp points and edges. The geniuses at my grammar school, which was virtually a 19th century institution, thought it would be good to take clinkers, points and edges and all, and spread them evenly over the schoolyard. You can easily imagine what happened to a kid’s knee and pants when playing tag and falling.

The life and comfort of my great-granddaughter is assured. Wiser heads have prevailed, and safety and comfort of our upcoming generations is a priority. I just enjoy being old, and watching and learning from the varied societies that surround me. I don’t fear death. Never have. Meanwhile, I’m having as much fun as I can until overtime is over the limit.

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