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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Cleaning house for the aged

"I'm going to clean out my closet," I said.

G-Rob replied, "Is that a metaphor?"

After nearly eight years of friendship, this guy knows me way too well.

"Yeah, probably," I said. "But I really am going to clean out my closet."

In the south, we grow kudzu, not because we want to, but because we have no choice. Someone brought it here and now it's going to grow regardless of our wants and whims. Same goes for my closet. It became my closet and now it is going to be messy.

I took three thrash bags with me and filled one with garbage before I reached the floor. I found bills for cell phones I haven't owned in four years, flight coupons for trips I don't remember taking, and a stack of business cards that I never actually carried for fear of being arrested. It all went in the bag. Other stuff sat to the side, like the monogrammed flask (hall full, no less) and the various and sundry items surrounding my career in television and media: three IFBs, two or three reporter notebooks, and countless press passes (including, but not limited to a badge granting me access to John Edwards in 2004, two or three presidential address Secret Service badges for both Bush and Clinton, and one I actually stole from the Grosvenor Victoria Casino in London, England).

I filled the second bag with clothes to give away. Five pairs of black dress shoes, two or three pairs of pants, a few shirts, and some giveaway items that I have collected over my years for working for a client.

Finally, I headed to some drawers where I keep underclothes and such. One drawer was so full that I could barely open it. There was a time, see, when I wore a white t-shirt nearly every day under my work clothes. Because of that and the fact that I hate doing laundry (the wife has taken over the duty in the house, only because it won't get done unless she doesn't), I had more than 20 white undershirts. I stacked five of the cleaner ones to the side and prepared to throw the rest away.

As I was about to throw one in the bag, I notice black Sharpie on the collar. I took a closer look and noticed my father's name written in my mother's hand. It was a shirt I'd somehow picked up when my dad was in the hospital and rehab center during and after his three brain surgeries. I rarely consider myself much of a man, but whatever maturity I have started forming around that time in 2003. I retrieved the shirt from the throwaway pile and tucked it back in the drawer.

Cleaning or no, we all need to keep some reminders.

(Upon re-reading the above, it sort of makes it sound like my Dad died. He will tell you that he's doing just fine, thank you. He just should've died. Like three times. Instead, he's playing the best golf of his life and not doing much else that could be considered work. All in all, not so bad for a guy in his 60s.)


I see Uncle Ted every couple of months. He speaks his mind. He's like that.

He came over a couple of weeks ago and wasn't in the door 30 seconds before he broke into a chorus of, "Gray, gray, gray, gray!"

I didn't have to ask what he was talking about. I think I muttered something profane and shuffled away to look for my walker.

The aging man's lament is so trite that I dare not repeat it this year. On my birthday last year, I talked about the choice I made. This year, I'm letting the day slide by with little fanfare. I decided to let this happen when I discovered, for the first time ever, I not only look a year older, I feel a year older.

This is not to say I mind. After I get through this awkward old man's adolescence, I'm going to be well on my way to Distinguished. That should be a good time. Of course, if the books tell us anything, it's a short road between being becoming distinguished and having someone feed you your soup. In that case, my wife and kid got me some fantastic German steel knives to mark the occasion that could probably put a quick end to it all.

If no marketing genius has come up with this yet, I think there is probably a great advertising campaign for knives aimed at seniors: "We'll still be sharp when you're not!"

Labels: ,


Blogger ColoradoAdventures said...

Happy Birthday from the Brown's! Have a super day!

10:14 AM  
Blogger StB said...

Were you tempted to take a swig out of the half full flask?

10:31 AM  
Anonymous Su said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Love and miss ya,

10:54 AM  
Blogger golden said...

Don't believe that "becoming someone distinguished" crap. It's a lie. Happy Birthday BTW.

12:06 PM  
Blogger BamBam said...

All the best !

Thanks so much for the information, and the kind words. It meant a bunch to the both of us.

We'll be there !

12:53 PM  
Blogger BG said...

I'd have swigged from the flask, but it probably would have been Blue Maui left over from 1992. Is that stuff capable of turning?

Happy birthday.

2:37 PM  
Blogger pokerpeaker said...

Looking forward to meeting you too. Thanks for stopping by. We'll be there Thursday afternoon too. I can't wait! By the way I've always thought you were a terrific writer. I really need to link you but I'll take care of that after Vegas.

3:03 PM  
Blogger change100 said...

You're a Saggitarius? Why does that make no sense to me?

Happy birthday anyway. T-minus how many days to Vegas?

3:13 PM  
Blogger Joaquin "The Rooster" Ochoa said...

Happy Birthday. I only knew it was your birthday because I visited Mrs. Otis first. No pun. Hope you have a great year Otis...please have all your plans out for this year for I would hate to see you all pensive in Vegas this year. We need fall down Otis around.

3:40 PM  
Blogger The Wife said...

Age is all relative - I turned 39 two weeks ago, the grays are out in full force (yes, even I, as a woman, can't bear the thought of the maintenance that goes with coloring my hair), but I'm still debating with myself about which sexy underwear (that theoretically, no one else will see anyway) to wear in Vegas . . . its all attitude!

Happy Birthday!

The Wife

PS: If you want sympathy, you can have it - you were a doll to my hubby so you can cry on my graying shoulder, if that makes you feel better.

4:41 PM  
Anonymous Pam said...

Happy Birthday from a frequent reader. At almost 43 I've highlighted my hair for many years so I don't see the grey - although my hairstylist tells me I do have some. Not such a bad thing, I guess, since it means we've lived long enough to appreciate what we have. I hope your day was spent relaxingly with the people and things you appreciate.

11:15 PM  
Blogger Maudie said...

Happy (belated) birthday, Mr. O. You're still a pup in my book!

10:02 AM  
Blogger BigPirate said...

Happy Birthday!

2:42 PM  
Blogger Drizztdj said...

Birthday shots on Saturday chased down by some Pai Gow?

I like.

Happy b-day!

7:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

HB big guy.

And if it makes you feel any better, I bet I have clothes in my closet (even after the clean out) that are older than the average blooger. Hmm. I hope that made you feel better; I'm feeling much worse.

Amy C

1:06 PM  

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