Saturday, August 22, 2009

The old woman and the water bottle

. Saturday, August 22, 2009

I decided to run down to the coffee shop this morning and visit with Jen as I have been spending most of my summer on the north side with volleyball and nana visiting.

Business is brisk on weekend mornings, as we have a great gimmick - Lexi the communal baby! People hang out in the shop just to watch Lexi run around, squeal really really loud, and answer NO to everything they say. Babies are soooo cute when they are not yours, ya hang out with them until they wear you out, then you give them back to their parents, everybody wins!

Soo I am sitting with Lexi the communal baby, who insists on slobbering all over my water bottle even though the shop has a million cups, including at least 4 of her own, and this old lady (who looked remarkably like the one depicted in the cartoon) starts going off about how stupid people are for carrying bottles everywhere like babies, how we are not going to die of thirst, how she is 74 years old ,and how generations of people got along just fine without them.

She then proceeded to comment on my unkempt hair, running outfit, running in general, colleges(I had on a U of Chi hoodie), asks about what I’m studying, which I simplified down to medicine, prompting her to go on this long triad against doctors ,how stupid they are , and how her sister is languishing in Athens, Greece as all the doctors have left the city because of the heat(don’t know, don’t wanna know, it would probably cost me IQ points)

Now I am use to people, usually guys, striking up inane conversations with me, but old people are the worst, but it’s never about the water bottle, or the doctors, or whatever the inane bitch of the day is, anymore than The Old Man and The Sea is about the marlin.

For the record, I hate Hemmingway; to me he’s an idiot savant who articulated the essence of redneck existence that he exemplified and tried to make it sound noble. I’m pretty sure he figured out that mentality is a load of rubbish, which is why he chose to go out the way he did, BUT his writing does illustrate the thinking patterns of those who share those values.

According to them, life is suppose to be this long hard road you are to drag your rugged cross down, and gosh darn it not only are young people refusing to drag crosses like the generations that came before them, they are *running* down a paved road with water bottles that spare them from the thirst(trials and tribulations) they had to endure.

But it’s more than that, we are Santiago’s boy - the living, breathing personification of life in all her glory, only instead of being servants, we are the center of attention and admiration, instead of revering them for their exemplary adherence to traditional values and their perseverance, we do not comprehend the meaning of their sacrifices, and go on to ignore, ridicule and pity them.

I do not wish to imply that the above is applicable to all elderly people, it is not, but I believe that it does include a substantial percentage of them, and I have no idea how to fix it.

It must be horrible to be staring mortality in the face knowing that the things you thought were so important no longer matter and never really did, to admit to yourself that you may have been conned into carrying some cross for somebody else’s benefit, but that the one-true-path you have been dragging it on without question, never veering left or right, turns out to be a meandering trail though a brier patch that dead ends in oblivion.