Mar 22, 2010

Say What?

This post is more about the geezer half of my life, rather than the motorcycling 10% or the grudging 40%.

Passing 60 is like getting passed by a bicyclist on a mountain road; not only are you clearly too conservative to be driving on public roads (and, maybe, golf courses) but you are too unaware of your wimpiness to hide it. Everything starts failing at once: eyes, ears, nose, taste buds, muscle tone, reflexes, and all the stuff I forgot to mention because memory also goes.

There is a type of old biker that, particularly, has to be in incredible danger because not only does this sort of nut ride practically everywhere with his wife on the passenger seat but the crazy moron is also helmet-wired for conversation. Anyone who ever tried to talk to a grandparent about anything semi-complicated knows where this is going.

I get a taste of this every time my wife comes into my office to watch the Colbert Report. Every other thing Steven says gets punctuated by my wife asking, "What did he say?" If his buddy, "Jimmy," puts up a graphic with words smaller than full-screen height and width, my wife asks, "What does that say?"

Like most Boomer babes, my wife refuses to wear glasses, wouldn't be caught dead wearing a hearing aid, and can't see anything smaller than a coffee cup or hear anything quieter than a shotgun blast. When I come into a room when she's been watching television by herself, it sounds like Oprah or Ellen singing along with Led Zeppelin live. If the reverse is true, she asks, "Why are you watching a movie with the sound turned off?"

Now, put that sort of relationship on a motorcycle. You're in a stream of freeway traffic on a 900 pound cruiser or touring bike and she's constantly whacking you on the back of the head, shouting into your headset, "What did that sign say? What's that noise? Did that kid give me the finger? Where do you want to eat? What? Where do you want to eat? I can't hear you." And so it goes until you finally smash the bike into the back of a bus while trying to reply to your wife in sign language, since words are useless.

In one of my favorite lyrics, Bob Dylan once sang, "You ask why I don't live here. I say, 'Man, I don't believe you don't leave.'" When I bump into an older couple on the road, wired up like space monkeys, in one of the many hilarious coordinated costumes that paired-up motorcyclists wear, and wondering why my wife isn't along for the ride, all I am hearing while they yammer at me is Bob Dylan's "On the Road Again." Which is where I want to be the moment they start talking to me. and will be as soon as I finish eating, get off of the damn ferry, or get my tank filled and escape to the solitude of the road.

Way back in March of 2001, I wrote a rant called A Failure to Communicate about a friend who was turning insistent on the "radio-in-the-helmet thing." I eventually went straight with him and asked, "Why do I want to talk to you, while I'm riding my motorcycle?" He thought that was a personal insult. People who knew me better knew that comment applied to anyone and everyone. Staying rubber-side down, away from idiot cagers, and on top of my own tendency to daydream myself into a ditch takes all of the limited geezer concentration I own. Your mileage may vary, but I doubt it.


Anonymous said...

The aspect of aging that most troubles me is that so many things make no sense to me. People simply accept that their children wil be, and of right ought to be, rasied by strangers, in a situation in which money stands in for love. In face of continual revelation of executive malfeasance, they continue to be partisan about the flavor of malfeasance they support. If not, they continue to vote for evil (that is, the lesser of two evils). They enthuse over wars today, only to clamor for their end tomorrow. The 20-30% of urban populations getting by on poverty-level income is cheerfully explained as "shiftless and lazy". Musta bin a lotta, lotta laziness in 1932. Many feel they are saving the planet by eschewing paper products in the house, only to fly to Tibet for "eco-tourism". Truth is not a testable hypothesis - it's how you feel about things.


Anonymous said...

Oh, this was *funny*. I actually laughed out loud about your wife & the hearing thing. Sounds just like me. So nice to know I'm not the only one! ;^)

Anonymous said...


You nailed this one. I am with you; I don't want to talk to you while we ride either. Plenty of stops along the way to carve out conversations.


Anonymous said...

A friend had a major decision to make - something too important, he felt, to be decided as most things are - on the moment. So he made a chart of all aspects of the decision, with a weighting for each, and then scored each point according to which possibility it favored, and by how much.

"I added it all up and worked out the answer. And I didn't agree with it", he said.

At that point I felt he'd never looked upon himself as a kind of parliament, with many individuals, parties, shifting coalitions operating within it. But that's what we seem to be.


Anonymous said...

After a few successful mariages (I consider ten years a successful relationship no matter what happens) I now choose singlehood in all things and cannot fathom why anyone over sixty would stay married, much less have to be henpecked inside your own helmet. I can't stand people who drive with a passenger even in a car when I am on the highway because they are more often busy looking over and talking (same as cell phone craziness) and don't pay attention that they have hogged the passing lane for the last thirty miles, forcing other drivers to get around them the best way they can and not always the safest.

When you are single after sixty you adapt to so many things that you are barely held back by any of the lost faculties because they are only noticed when you go to read vitamin bottle labels. You have nobody to baby you (usually PITA anyway) and you are too busy doing for yourself to pity your current aches or pains. Sorry, I can't relate to your complaints since mine are still about others' dumbness, more like a younger fool does, instead of self criticism -- I am what I am thanks to being happily alone. I Like your blog, and get the RSS on my MyYahoo.

T.W. Day said...

I don't know about ten years being "successful." Unless you are childless, seems like you need to stick around as a family until the kids are grown to be a successful mate and parent. I've never understood serial-failure marriage folks. Seems like one failure ought to be enough of a lesson. Why anyone would keep at it until their assets are used up is beyond me. I'm still on my first, but if this one ends I won't be trying it again.

Our fathers, my wife and I, are and were (in order) very dependent males. They were both "greatest generation" characters, participated in both the Great Depression and WWII and my wife's father stuck out the military until he retired at 50 in 1965. Both men married twice after being widowed. Both men were incredibly dependent on both of their wives. Both men desperately needed someone to take care of them in their old age.

My wife and I are pretty independent. We've had periods of aloneness and enjoy those periods as much as our togetherness. By 60, if you can't get along with yourself you probably never will.